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Dr. Norman Topping, Former VP/Medical Affairs

Dr. Norman H. Topping, who was vice president for medical affairs at Penn from 1952 until he took up the presidency of the University of Southern California in 1958, died on November 18 at the age of 89.

Dr. Topping, an alumnus of USC who also took his M.D. there, began his research career at the U.S. Public Health Service in the 'thirties, and was known for his work there on the vaccine that is still in use today against typhus. Later he also contributed to the development of the first effective treatment against Rocky Mountain spotted fever. He was associate director of the NIH and Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S., from 1948 until he joined Penn in 1952, to serve under Dr. Gaylord Harnwell and oversee a period of significant growth in basic research in the health schools.

As president of USC, 1958-70, and as its chancellor, 1971-80, Dr. Topping is credited with moving that large, private university from a local institution best known for undergraduate athletics to a national one with a major research and graduate program. He became emeritus chancellor in 1980.

Dr. Topping was married to the late Helen Rummens and is survived by a son, Brian, and a daughter, Linda Topping Badgley, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, November 25, 1997, Volume 44, No. 14