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David Schlossberg

David Schlossberg Died: February 28, 2019

David Schlossberg, MD was born in Trenton, NJ on April 11, 1944 the son of John and Shirley Sykes Schlossberg. He grew up in New Jersey and graduated from the Lawrenceville School. He entered Yale in September 1962 and was a member of Pierson College and an English Major. He enjoyed meeting literary guests at Master John Hersey’s residence including Lillian Hellman whose cigarettes he lit while she chain smoked. He was a member of the varsity wrestling team and one of the first Jewish members of Fence Club. He married two days before graduation and had three children; but that marriage ended in divorce in 1986.

For all four years he roomed with his Lawrenceville classmate, Dick Pershing, and was devastated when in 1968 Mike Dalby called to tell him Dick was killed in Vietnam. He stayed close to the Pershing family and dedicated one of his books to Dick. He graduated Alpha Omega Alpha, the prestigious honor society, from the Tufts University School of Medicine, did his residency in Internal Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York and a Fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Emory University.

He served two years in the Navy as Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Naval Regional Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA. He then became

Chief of Medicine at the Polyclinic Medical Center in Harrisburg, PA. In 1984 he became Chair of the Department of Medicine and Head of Infectious Diseases at Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia as well as Professor of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine. In 2000 he became Director, Medical Services at Merck & Co., Inc. Five years later he became Medical Director of the TB Control Program at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, taking care of the most complicated TB patients in the city and also training numerous ID fellows in Philadelphia.

After his death Philadelphia’s monthly citywide infectious disease management conference was dedicated to him and renamed in his honor. He published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, numerous editorials, over 50 book chapters and wrote/edited 28 textbooks in infectious diseases and related topics. He was a journal reviewer for prestigious publications such as NEJM, JAMA, CHEST and the Annals of Internal Medicine. He won numerous teaching awards and lectured throughout the US and in many other countries including yearly visiting professorships in Japan and China. He was a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Penn State/Hershey, Temple University, Medical College of Pennsylvania/Hahnemann, Jefferson Medical School, and an adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

David noted proudly in our Thirtieth Reunion class book that his three children were each pursuing their careers. He noted then: “Our family remains close and we are together frequently – a most important and rewarding part of my life.” His daughter Amy described him as very family oriented and a devoted son, sibling, father, grandfather and friend. His daughter Karen wrote: “His interests and talents were numerous and varied. He had an incredible sense of humor. He loved an eclectic collection of movies. He played bridge. He studied Talmud. He loved literature. He knew Chaim Potok and suggested to him the subject of Potok’s book The Gates of November. He achieved a black belt in Karate and then in Tae Kwon Do. He was a self-taught and enthusiastic piano player. His family was the most important thing to him. He was close with his parents and his siblings and their families, and he loved being with his children and grandchildren. He was the patriarch of the entire family. He led our Passover Seder every year and hosted breakfast at Yom Kippur. He guided and took care of all of us. We miss him all the time.”

He died on February 28, 2019 of stage 4 stomach cancer six days after returning from lecturing in Japan. He is survived by his three children, three grandchildren, and his beloved partner for decades, Yuan Mirow, a physician at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

 

Benjamin Liptzin

 
Remembrances

A remembrance by the Infectious Diseases program at Emory noted that “While at Emory, Schlossberg worked closely with Jack Shulman, MD. His first four scientific papers published from 1975 to 1977 were coauthored with Shulman and focused on clinical cases from his fellowship years at Emory. Additionally, Schlossberg co-edited a book with Shulman entitled Differential Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases published in 1996…. He was a prolific and talented writer who made major contributions in describing the clinical manifestations of infectious diseases. He was an outstanding physician, scholar, teacher, and lifelong friend to many in the Emory infectious diseases community. He and his remarkable legacy will be missed by all.”

A former student eulogized him saying “David Schlossberg was the true definition of a Renaissance man – an outstandingly versatile and well- rounded individual. He was brilliant both in and out of the medical arena. David’s scholarship encompassed areas including history, literature, and religion to name a few. He was also fluent in seven languages. David was a true academic. A scholar. A leader. While he brought with him to Episcopal the experience of having trained at prestigious institutions, David also possessed leadership, integrity, dedication, discipline, and compassion. As a world class Infectious Disease Specialist and humanitarian, he recruited a group of young physicians who learned to work together to improve the level of care given to an impoverished community. Because of David Schlossberg, Episcopal Hospital became an oasis in North Philadelphia. Equally as important, was David’s devotion to his trainees. Many young physicians came to Episcopal Hospital from all over the world. There, they were given the opportunity to excel under Dr. Schlossberg’s tutelage and many went on to complete prestigious fellowships in a variety of subspecialties. Doors were open to these young doctors that would have been closed if not for David Schlossberg. These physicians took a part of David Schlossberg and paid it forward in their own medical communities. He trained their minds. He taught them how to think critically. He taught them how to interpret the literature. He taught them how to become excellent clinicians. Therefore, directly and indirectly, David Schlossberg influenced and continues to influence the lives of patients all around the country-patients he never met. His students taught students who taught other students and, as a result, hundreds of young physicians were able to become the recipients of Schlossberg’s brilliance. This is a big part of his legacy. His passing was a major loss to the medical community, to the infectious disease community, and to humankind. He was a special individual and a true icon who is deeply missed.”