Dr. Lyman Jackson (“Jack”) Roberts II of Gallatin, Tennessee passed away on May 31, 2023 at the age of 79. He was born on December 10, 1943 to Lyman Jackson Roberts and Betty Jane Mills Roberts in Muscatine, IA. After graduating from Muscatine High School, he earned his undergraduate degree in Biology and Chemistry from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa (1965) and then his medical degree from the University of Iowa in Iowa City (1969). After an internship at Denver General Hospital, he served in the US Navy (1970-1973) as a flight surgeon before continuing his medical education with an internship and fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis. Jack joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University in 1977.
Jack was a highly productive and dedicated scientist in pharmacology and medicine who earned substantial international recognition and numerous high-profile awards and honors during his nearly 40-year career at Vanderbilt University. Jack had a passion for science not only for its own sake but for its use in creating better health outcomes in patients. Among Jack’s best-known work was the discovery (with his collaborator the late Jason Morrow, M.D.) of isoprostanes along with elucidating their use in diagnosing and improving human health. But, that was not his only significant contribution to medicine. Jack’s 400+ refereed publications span a wide range of topics that include contributions to treatments to improve cardiovascular health and methods to treat multiple serious diseases.
Outside of his work in medicine, Jack loved being around water. He had a passion for boating and spent countless days on the Cumberland River and connecting waterways. Jack was an excellent water skier and snow skier, as well as an extremely talented pianist. He is survived by his wife, Vicky L. Roberts, married 1996, and two sons: Jacob Lyman Roberts (age 51) and Erik Jackson Roberts (age 48). Jack is also survived by seven grandchildren and three step-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his parents and his first wife, Susanne E. Roberts (died 1994).
Jack retired from Vanderbilt in 2016 and enjoyed a slower pace of life and more time with his wife, Vicky. His curiosity remained a constant as he was happy to learn broadly about science. He continued to be curious about a wide variety of scientific topics. Jack once told his oldest son to “never try to be the smartest . . . there will always be someone smarter than you. Instead, go discover things that no one has discovered before. At the moment that you do, you get to be the only person in the world with that new knowledge and then after that you get to push human knowledge forward in a new direction.” Jack clearly believed this to be true and did so time and time again to all our benefit.
A Memory Gathering for Dr. Roberts’ family and friends will be held at 5 p.m. on June 24 at the Hendersonville Memorial Gardens, 353 E. Main Street in Hendersonville.