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Class of 1986

Barron Lerner, the Angelica Berrie-Gold Foundation Associate Professor of Medicine at P&S and of Sociomedical Sciences at Mailman School of Public Health, has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times since 2002. His pieces, which run several times a year, usually are historical in nature (an old TB hospital on Staten Island), about medical education, or about cases from his practice. He also has had article published in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and Slate. A recent essay worth mentioning was published May 25, 2009, and recounted the informal quotas that limited the numbers of Jewish medical students and physicians in the years leading up to World War II. Specifically, Dr. Lerner recounted the information Lewis P. Rowland, M.D., emeritus professor of neurology, included in his 2009 book, “The Legacy of Tracy J. Putnam and H. Houston Merritt,” two leaders at the Neurological Institute. “Within hospital walls, some non-Jewish physicians supported the quotas and others opposed them,” Dr. Lerner wrote. “An untold story from Columbia’s Neurological Institute demonstrates an ingenious attempt by one physician to thwart what he believed was an unjust policy. …At Columbia, the department of neurology had quietly hired several [Jewish] doctors, many of whom were quite eminent.” At the Neurological Institute in the 1940s, the neurology service was divided in two: The East service contained no Jewish physicians while the West service contained 5 to 10 European Jews. The mastermind behind this compromise was Dr. Putnam. Dr. Rowland uncovered what may be the real reason Dr. Putnam was forced to resign in 1947: A New York newspaper of the era, called PM, reported that Dr. Putnam had been told to fire all of the “non-Aryan” neurologists, something he was unwilling to do. Although Dr. Putnam left, most of the Jewish neurologists stayed, but Columbia did not have a Jewish physician as head of neurology until Dr. Rowland was named chair in 1973. Read Dr. Lerner’s full essay at www.nytimes.com/2009/05/26/health/26quot.html?scp=1&sq=In%20A%20Time%20of%20quotas,%20a%20quiet%20posein%20defiance&st=cse