Warren Warwick, a Pioneer in CF Care and Research

Two doctors who worked with Dr. Warren Warwick reflect on his contribution to CF care and its lasting impact.

| 4 min read
Preston W. Campbell, III, M.D.

It is with a heavy heart that I share the passing of Warren J. Warwick, M.D., who died on February 15, 2016. Dr. Warwick had a profound and lasting impact on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through his scientific expertise and his longstanding commitment to his patients.


In 1964, the Foundation asked him to gather data on every patient treated at any of the then 31 accredited care centers to identify the best treatments. From that project sprung the CF Foundation's Patient Registry, which is at the very heart of our model of care and its focus on continuous quality improvement. As a long-time care center director in Minnesota, his commitment to asking more of himself, his colleagues and his patients to improve their health and the quality of their lives set an example for all of us to emulate.

David N. Cornfield, M.D., and Carlos Milla, M.D., are distinguished pediatric pulmonologists who worked closely with Dr. Warwick. They have kindly permitted me to share some of their words, which so thoughtfully capture Warren's inspiring leadership and innumerable contributions to the CF community. 


A dedicated and treasured member of the University of Minnesota faculty from 1960 until 2011, Dr. Warwick made seminal contributions to the fields of pediatrics and cystic fibrosis. His investigative pedigree included mentorship in immunology from Dr. Robert Good and collaborations in infectious disease with Dr. Paul Quie. As a keen pulmonary physiologist, Dr. Warwick was among the first to consider a mechanical approach to bronchial drainage and conceived of the percussive vest to loosen mucus in the lungs of children and adults with CF, an invention that is in use worldwide.

Evidence of Dr. Warwick's prescience is embodied in his report, published in 1968 in Minnesota Medicine, the journal of the Minnesota State Medical Association, in which he proclaimed that the federal government and voluntary agencies should combine resources to "solve the problems of inadequate facilities and funds for care of children (with CF) … for research into pathogenesis and educational programs for physicians and paramedical professionals." His call to action has in many ways proved prophetic.

Though Warren was often thought iconoclastic, his theories [regarding CF care] were often proved over time to be correct. He articulated -- with clarity and force -- his positions on the importance of nutritionchest physiotherapy and a commitment to daily care, along with the role of big pharma in medicine and, above all, the central importance of the physician-patient, family relationship, well before these ideas gained mainstream acceptance. He was an inspired inventor and tinkerer, completely committed to making the lives of people with cystic fibrosis better. His eyes were on the horizon even while seeing exactly what was directly in front of him. 

Warren J. Warwick worked, every day of his adult life, to make life better for others. His commitment, passion and clarity will be missed.


We are proud to remember Dr. Warwick today for his many important contributions to the CF community and the tremendous difference he has made in the lives of people with CF. We continue in his footsteps and with the benefit of his outstanding and enduring example of compassion, commitment and excellence in the service of all people with CF.

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Dr. Preston Campbell served as president and chief executive officer of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation from 2015 - 2019. A leader at the CF Foundation for more than 20 years, Dr. Campbell previously served as the Foundation's executive vice president for medical affairs, overseeing the Foundation's research, drug discovery, drug development and clinical research programs, and directed clinical research, the Foundation's network of care centers, clinical training programs and the national patient registry database. He initially became interested in cystic fibrosis as a CF camp counselor while earning his medical degree from the University of Virginia Medical School.

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