Claes E.G. Lundgren

Published June 27, 2022

Claes E.G. Lundgren, longtime UB faculty member and SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Physiology, died June 12. He was 91.

A world renown expert in respiratory physiology, diving and hyperbaric medicine, Lundgren was recruited to UB in 1977 to direct the university’s hyperbaric physiology program. He served as the first director of the Center for Research and Education in Special Environments (CRESE) from 1985 to 2007, remaining an active investigator until his retirement in 2008.

Lundgren’s work involved both theoretical modeling and experimental studies. He was a recognized expert in respiratory function, including ventilation, gas exchange, hypo- and hyperbaric oxygen, nitrogen uptake and clearance, air embolism, liquid breathing, anesthetic effect of gases, water immersion and diving. His work defined static lung loading in diving, set the physiologically and subjectively acceptable breathing resistance standards for diver’s breathing gear, and increased understanding of the physiology of breath hold diving.

In addition, he made significant contributions to understanding and preventing vertigo in pilots and the physiology of high G stress.

Lundgren acquired more than 100 patents on topics ranging from improved diving gear used by the Swedish Navy and devices to enhance gas transport, to pharmacological agents (e.g., Nicorette). His work was published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, among them Nature, The Lancet, Acta Physiology and Pharmacology, British Journal of Medicine, Anesthesiology, Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, and Aviation and Space Medicine. He also edited six books, including “The Lung at Depth,” and was a guest editor for the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Lundgren was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the UB Excellence in Teaching of Preclinical Medicine, the Albert Behnke award, Niagara Research Foundation Inventor of the Year, UB Exceptional Scholar Award, Pioneer of Science Award, and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award, as well as the SUNY Distinguished Professorship.

Lundgren was also the consummate professor, mentoring many MS, PhD and MD students, and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have become leaders in their fields.

A native of Stockholm, he earned an MD and PhD from the University of Lund.

His personal interests included aerobatic flying, sailing and listening to classical music and jazz.