Letters

Readers respond to past issues

Robert Loeb, the Legend
Dear Editor,

Robert Loeb
Cliff Meador says it so well [P&S Journal, Fall 2007 issue]. Each of us who were inspired, motivated, and chastened by Robert Loeb remember it vividly. I came to P&S from Alabama planning to be a family physician. What happened was the Loeb influence. I was lucky! As a third-year student on medicine we were on bedside rounds (rare today) with Dr. Loeb. It was 8 Center. First bed on the right. The patient had xanthomatous deposits along tendons and a very high blood cholesterol level. Loeb asked the students “Who can tell me the biosynthetic pathway for cholesterol?” We had learned this in biochemistry from Rittenberg. I volunteered and said it starts with 1, then 2, then 4 carbons all the way to HMG to squalene to cholesterol. From then it was Shipp, but not Joe yet!
   Then in the fourth year I wanted to go to the Brigham to intern and pursue endocrinology with George Thorn. This was not to be. Loeb called me into his office and said: “Shipp, you need two more years with me and then you can go to Harvard.” Basically, he was saying “You have not learned all I can teach you.” He was right! The two years of residency in medicine at Presbyterian Hospital with increasing time and influence of Loeb changed my whole career from family medicine to academic medicine with a special interest in diabetes. I have never forgiven him for diverting me to diabetes: It is the most interesting, complex metabolic and behavioral disorder in all of medicine! But today at P&S, Dr. Goland and colleagues in the Berrie Diabetes Center have the potential to prepare P&S graduates to understand patients with diabetes and to learn how to help their patients acquire the EUP (Education, Understanding and Practice… this is original with me and has stood the 40 plus year test!) which is necessary for the effective treatment of each patient.
   Last May after our very special alumni luncheon I enjoyed a walk along the corridors of the 8th floor in Presbyterian Hospital. Loeb’s office is no more. I did find John Loeb’s office and left him a note. Soon I had an e-mail from John saying he remembered comments by his father on Joe Shipp…finally, Joe!). Then I slowly gazed at the photos of former chairs of the Department of Medicine along one wall. Regretably, since the decades of Loeb the successors have had notably short tenures. Even with all of the advances, medicine is still basic to learning to be a caring physician. I hope that Dean Lee Goldman (the new dean whom you enticed to leave us at UCSF) is successful in bringing someone to the chair in medicine who, in his or her own way, will be as effective and as long remembered as is Robert F. Loeb.
Joseph C. Shipp’52
UCSF Professor of Medicine, Emeritus

Dear Editor,
I have just read the wonderful article by Cliff Meador on Robert F. Loeb. It precisely gives the flavor of that time and Dr. Loeb, the warmth, the trepidation and the impeccable standards.
Robin W. Briehl, M.D.
Professor of Physiology & Biophysics
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Father Morrissey

Father Morrissey
Dear Editor,
I read your article celebrating the extraordinary P&S career of Father Daniel Morrissey with great pleasure and pride [P&S Journal, Spring/Summer 2007]. I served as the first student president of the AIMS Council and created its bylaws with Father Morrissey back in 1987; AIMS stood for “Assistance for Impaired Medical Students” back then. While the new council title is much better, I am so pleased to see the organization’s structure is very similar and held true to what we envisioned.
   It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years. Age and time have been very kind to Father Morrissey: He looks exactly the same and obviously has the same energy and enthusiasm he possessed when arriving at P&S a generation ago. Please extend my congratulations to “Father Dan” and personal best wishes for continuing his ability to endow another generation of P&S students with humor, peace, and perspective.
Stuart L. Goldstein’90
Associate Professor of Pediatrics,
Baylor College of Medicine
Medical Director,
Renal Dialysis Unit and Pheresis Service
Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston

Other Topics
Dear Editor,
Thank you so much for including a squib about our memoir, “A Year Without Peer: 1963-1964 in the Department of Dermatology of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center” [P&S Journal, Fall 2007 issue]. I was delighted to see that small work among five others by P&S alumni.
   The aim of our endeavor in “A Year Without Peer” was to bear testimony to a time when standards in medicine, especially at P&S and the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, were stratospheric, when teaching of medical students was perfected to a high art, and when the patient was the sole, near obsessive consideration of medical care at both that Center and of a Columbia-trained physician. Sad to say, nowhere does that come through in the lines that are written in P&S Journal about “A Year Without Peer.”
   May I suggest that you consider devoting an article about “A Year Without Peer,” akin to the one in the same last issue titled, “From Clifton to Doctor Back to Clifton Again” by Clifton Meador. He captures flavorfully aspects of the personality and the mentality of Robert F. Loeb, but his emphasis is not the same as ours. Because I as a teacher for nearly 40 years have noticed a decided slippage in standards, I sought in “A Year Without Peer” to sing a paean to standards set half a century ago at P&S and at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. In my judgment, that cannot be recalled enough for the benefit of today’s medical students and house officers, as well as for the memory of those forebears who set the bar high. 
Bernard Ackerman’62
via e-mail

Dear Editor,
[This was submitted in response to an article in P&S Journal, Fall 2005, in which Val Jones’00 talked about the care she received as a child from John Schullinger’55, now professor emeritus of clinical surgery]: Dr. Schullinger also saved my brother’s life in 1975 when he presented at age 7 to the same hospital with a perforated appendix. I never met him personally: I was only 9 at the time but he left a great impression on my parents. The name sounded familiar. It is hard to imagine how many lives you actually touch as a physician. This is an enormous contribution in the case of those of our gifted colleagues who have shared their talents at a teaching hospital over the span of a long career.
Dr. Michael S. Padial
via e-mail

Dear Editor,
Our Class of 1953 will soon be celebrating our 55th reunion in May 2008. Time really marches on! As our class chairman, I am hoping to have at least 50 percent of our class present for this “once in a lifetime” event. At our 50th reunion in May 2003, our class presented a gift to P&S. It was the Dr. Harold Brown Fellowship for Global Study. The class raised close to $400,000 for this fellowship. While we were in medical school, many of my classmates attended the world famous Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s clinic in the Belgian Congo. This was accomplished through Dr. Harold Brown, our professor of parasitology at P&S.
   At our 50th reunion, 11 classmates who had served as medical doctors in a third world country told us about their personal experiences. It was fascinating to hear about their surgical challenges as well as their medical feats. Many of these physicians showed us amazing photos of this part of their lives. After May 2008, our class will look forward to our 60th reunion in May 2013.
Stanley Edelman, M.D.
Chairman, Class of 1953
via e-mail

Send Letters to:
Editor, P&S Journal
College of Physicians and Surgeons
630 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
E-mail: psjournal@columbia.edu

 

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