Robert F. Labbe, PhD

In July 2023, we changed our name from AACC (short for the American Association for Clinical Chemistry) to the Association for Diagnostics & Laboratory Medicine (ADLM). The following page was written prior to this rebranding and contains mentions of the association’s old name. It may contain other out-of-date information as well.

1981 Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry

Robert F. Labbe will receive the 30th AACC Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry through Research. The award is sponsored by the Ames Co.

Dr. Labbe was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1922. He received the B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Portland (1947), and the M.S. (1949) and Ph.D. (1951) degrees from Oregon State College (now Oregon State University). He was awarded a postdoctoral Fellowship in Medical Sciences from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which permitted continued research and training at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University. Subsequently, Dr. Labbe held a position as assistant professor of biochemistry and pediatrics at the University of Oregon School of Medicine. In 1956, he served as visiting assistant professor in the Enzyme Institute, University of Wisconsin. Dr. Labbe joined the faculty at the University of Washington in 1957 in the departments of pediatrics and biochemistry. In 1965 he was awarded a U.S. Public Health Service Special Fellowship to carry on research in the laboratories of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Canberra, Australia. During 1966–1971 he held a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health. In 1968 he attained the rank of professor. Dr. Labbe transferred to the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University of Washington in 1974, where he became head of Clinical Chemistry in 1980.

Dr. Labbe has been a member of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) since 1968. He has held most offices in the Pacific Northwest Section, including chairman and councilor, and is now serving as legislative liaison. He was treasurer for the joint AACC/CSCC National Meeting held in Seattle in 1971. Currently he chairs the Committee on Science. Dr. Labbe is a member of numerous other scientific and professional organizations, including the American Society of Biological Chemists, the Western Society for Pediatric Research, and the Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists, where he chairs the Task Force on Research. He has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Labbe organized and chaired the first Gordon Research Conference on Pyrrole Compounds in 1966; this conference still meets biannually. Dr. Labbe has published approximately 100 papers. His research interests have ranged over many aspects of porphyrins, metalloporphyrins, and other pyrrole compounds, including the chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular pathology of many of these metabolites. His recent strong interest in nutrition has led to establishment of a Nutrition Section in the Clinical Chemistry Division and to direct involvement of the clinical nutrition laboratories with medical school teaching programs and with nutrition support services. Dr. Labbe’s wide-ranging research activities now include projects involving basic as well as clinical aspects of both pyrrole metabolism and nutrition and their interrelationships.