Cover photo for Clark William Distelhorst's Obituary
Clark William Distelhorst Profile Photo

Clark William Distelhorst

September 2, 1946 — July 3, 2023

Shaker Heights

Clark William Distelhorst

Clark William Distelhorst, MD, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, the Charles S. Britton II Professor of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Medicine and Pharmacology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, passed away on Monday July 3, 2023 at the age of 76.

Clark was born on September 2, 1946 in Columbus, Ohio to Norman and Alice Distelhorst, and was baptized in St. James Lutheran Church. He graduated from Hilliard High School in 1964. He attended The Ohio State University earning a BA summa cum laude in the College of Arts and Sciences in 1968 and MD summa cum laude in the College of Medicine in 1971.

Clark completed an internship in internal medicine at the Yale-New Haven Medical Center, New Haven, Connecticut in 1972. He completed his medical residency in 1973 and his fellowship in the Division of Hematology and Oncology in 1978 at Barnes Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.

Clark served as flight surgeon, rank of Captain, in the U. S. Air Force, 1973-1975. He earned Board Certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1976 and in Hematology in 1978.

Clark was appointed as assistant professor of pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1978. When appointed to the same position at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis Children's Hospital in 1981, he chose the academic path of becoming a physician-scientist to pursue both research and teaching, while also treating patients.

Clark was recruited by Nathan Berger, MD, and appointed as associate professor of medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University in 1985, where he was promoted to professor in 1992. He held the position of Charles S. Britton II Professor of Hematology and Oncology from his appointment in 1999 until his death.

Clark worked with Sir Michael Berridge at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK, in 2003, while on sabbatical, during which he was appointed Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge University. He was honored with the Stohlman Memorial Scholar Forum award from the Leukemia Society of America, 1991, elected member of the Association of American Physicians, and received the Harrington Scholar-Innovator award from the Harrington Discovery Institute, 2015, for his development of a Bcl2 therapeutic agent.

Clark, known as "Dr. D." among his colleagues and patients at University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center, where he served as attending physician, and at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he served as Associate Director for Education and Training, was consistently funded as a principal investigator by the National Institutes of Health.  He led the Cancer Biology Training Grant and the Cancer Cell Signaling program at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.   His research, published in numerous peer-reviewed papers and chapters, included major discoveries regarding the fundamental mechanisms involved in the killing of cancer cells by steroid hormones, which impacted the development of potential new therapeutic methods.  He was a member of multiple study sections and review panels for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.

Clark was actively analyzing research data for manuscripts up until his death. He enjoyed attending concerts of the Cleveland Orchestra, travel with family, and reading, especially about his spiritual hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Clark is survived by his wife, Lynne, of 47 years, sons David and Mark (Laura), daughter Karen (Carl) Carter, and four grandchildren, Alice, Hannah, and Joel Carter and Henry Distelhorst. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Richard.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Cleveland Orchestra, Ohio Cancer Research, or St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Cleveland Heights. VISITATION WILL BE HELD AT BROWN-FORWARD FUNERAL HOME, 17022 CHAGRIN BLVD, SUNDAY, JULY 16, 5-7 PM.  A Funeral Service will be at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2747 Fairmount Blvd, Monday, July 17, 11 AM, followed by interment at Lake View Cemetery.

Past Services


Sunday, July 16, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Monday, July 17, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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