In Memoriam: Dan Hightower, DVM, MS (1925-2004)

Dan Hightower, age 79, died September 14, 2004 in Texas. Dr. Hightower was an Associate Member of the American College of Veterinary Radiology. He will be remembered by our College as a pioneer in veterinary nuclear medicine.

Dr. Hightower was born in Eastland, Texas on October 15, 1925. He was admitted to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A & M University and graduated in 1946 at the age of 21. After graduation, he entered the US Army. He served in the US Army Veterinary Corps for 20 years and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1966. While in the US Army Veterinary Corps, he held many positions that helped him develop expertise with radioactive materials and radiation biology. He was Chief of the Department of Biophysics at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research from 1963 to 1964. He later served as Deputy Director of the Division of Nuclear Medicine at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research from 1964 to 1966. Following retirement from the US Army, Dr. Hightower jointed the Faculty at Texas A & M University in College of Veterinary Medicine as an Associate Professor. He was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1972. His early research was focused on the effect of neutron irradiation. As with other pioneers in veterinary nuclear medicine, prior experience with radionuclides and a scientific interest in physiology and metabolism lead to the diagnostic and therapeutic use of radionuclides in veterinary nuclear medicine. During the 1960s, the gamma camera and 99mTc pharmaceuticals were introduced into human nuclear medicine but the technology was too expensive for veterinary applications. During this time Dr. Hightower was using radionuclides for in vitro thyroid function assays in dogs. In 1970, Dr. Hightower published a paper on imaging of thyroid tumors in two dogs using a rectilinear scanner (JAVMA, 1970). Dr. Hightower continued to develop the nuclear medicine program at Texas A & M. Because of his role in the advancement of veterinary nuclear medicine, Dr. Hightower was made an Associate Member of the American College of Veterinary Radiology in 1981. Dr. Hightower played an active role in many professional organizations including The American Veterinary Medical Association, The Texas Veterinary Medical Association, The Society of Nuclear Medicine, and The Radiation Research Society until his retirement from Texas A & M.

Dr. Hightower was also the President of the Military Officers Association of Brazos County, and a member of the Earl Graham American Legion Post No. 159, Eastland Lodge No. 467 A.F. & A.M., Scottish Rite Valley of Houston, and Shriners in Seattle.

Dr. Hightower was buried at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.

Gregory Daniel, DVM
Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2005 46 (3), 273.