John I. Brewer, M.D., 93, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical School and former chair and chief of services of the department of obstetrics and gynecology for Northwestern Memorial Hospital, died Jan. 15  at St. Luke's Hospital in Boise, Idaho.
Dr. Brewer headed a research team whose work dramatically improved the survival rate of women with cancer of the placenta, a rare disease that strikes mothers between the ages of 20 and 24. Before 1962, when the only treatment option was removal of the uterus, the survival rate was a mere 10 percent. Brewer's attack on the disease began with the creation of a test to discover its presence and monitor its progress. His research team found anti-cancer drugs to be so effective against placental cancer that by 1975 the survival rate had improved to 88 percent.
Dr. Brewer, who held degrees from Bradley University, the University of Chicago and Rush Medical College, joined the Medical School in 1930 as a clinical assistant. He became a full professor in 1948 and professor emeritus in 1972. In 1989, the John and Ruth Brewer Professor of Gynecology and Cancer Research, was established in honor of Dr. Brewer and his wife.
Dr. Brewer served as president of the medical staff of Passavant Hospital. He was elected president of the American Gynecological Society in 1964 and served as chair of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals Boards of Commissioners in 1963. He edited the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 1971 to 1990 and was the author of three books and numerous articles.
He is survived by a son, John V.; three grandchildren; and two great- grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 in room 156 of Prentice Pavilion.