Pediatric luminary dies at age 70
was renowned infectious diseases expert
- Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Pediatrics
A man known for his broad-reaching contributions to the field of infectious diseases and remembered by colleagues and those he mentored for his warmth, caring and compassion, Ralph D. Feigin, M.D., FAAP, of Houston, died Aug. 14 of lung cancer at age 70. Dr. Feigin was a lifetime nonsmoker.
He touched the lives of thousands; at least 1,600 attended a procession and funeral in Houston to pay their final respects.
Dr. Feigin was looking forward to assuming the role of editor of Pediatrics on Jan. 1. He served as the journal’s associate editor for 14 years (1994-’08). He also was author or co-author of 15 books, including six editions of the Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, was co-editor of Oski’s Pediatrics: Principles and Practice and editor of UpToDate in Pediatrics, among other scholarly publications. He published more than 500 articles. His research uncovered a better understanding of diseases such as bacterial meningitis, leptospirosis, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis and measles.
Physician-in-chief of Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, and J.S. Abercrombie professor of pediatrics and Department of Pediatrics chairman at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston (1977-’08), he also served as physician in chief of pediatric services at Ben Taub General Hospital and chief, pediatric service at Methodist Hospital, Houston. He was president and chief executive officer of Baylor College of Medicine from 1996-’03.
At Baylor, he trained more than 2,000 pediatricians and pediatric specialists. Among graduates are two medical school deans, 22 associate deans, 10 pediatric department chairs and 180 pediatric section heads.
Past president (1982-’83) of the Society for Pediatric Research, the American Pediatric Society (1997-’98) and the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs (1991-’93), he was a member of numerous local and regional pediatric organizations. He also was chair of the AAP Pediatric Workforce Workgroup of the Future of Pediatric Education II and a member of the AAP Section on Infectious Diseases.
He was recipient of two AAP awards: the 1997 Medical Education Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2008 Award for Lifetime Contribution to Infectious Diseases Education (given posthumously). Before Dr. Feigin died, the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases dedicated the 2009 AAP Red Book in his name, lauding his contributions and noting that he has “forever changed the study of pediatric infectious diseases.”
Dr. Feigin also was honored with the Joseph St. Geme Jr. Leadership Award in 1984, the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society’s Distinguished Physician Award (1996), the American Pediatric Society’s 2007 John Howland Award and the 2007 Harris County Medical Society/Houston Academy of Medicine John P. McGovern Compleat Physician Award.
He became a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1969, was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Medicine in 1995. In 1998, he received a Doctor of Humane Letters from Boston University School of Medicine.
Dr. Feigin received his M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine in 1962, he completed a pediatric internship at Boston City Hospital (1962-’63) and served as a pediatric resident at the Boston City Hospital (1963-’64) and Massachusetts General Hospital (1964-’65). After completing a research assignment with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Md. (1965-’67), he became chief resident of the Children’s Service at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1967-’68.
In 1968, he accepted a position as an instructor in pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, followed by assistant professor of pediatrics in 1969, associate professor in 1972 and professor in 1974. Between 1973 and 1977, he directed the infectious diseases division in the Department of Pediatrics and was director of the bacteriology and serology laboratories at St. Louis Children’s Hospital from 1972 to 1977.
He is survived by his wife, Judith, three children and six grandchildren.