In Memoriam: AAP past president, hematology/oncology pioneer, Dr. Pearson
AAP past president, hematology/oncology pioneer, Dr. Pearson
Howard A. Pearson, M.D., FAAP, AAP past president (1992-’93) who for 14 years was medical director at Paul Newman’s
Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for children with cancer and serious blood diseases, died
Oct. 16 at age 86.
Dr. Pearson, of New Haven, Conn., helped establish the AAP Pediatric History Center
at the Drs. Harry and Ruth Bakwin Library at AAP headquarters. The first chair of
the AAP Historical Archives Committee, he helped launch the archives and oral history
program to preserve life stories of “eminent pediatricians.” His own oral history
was taken by his grandson and is available by emailing the library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To date, Dr. Pearson and other pediatric historians have recorded oral histories of
about 100 AAP members.
He also contributed reflections on the Academy’s history as co-editor of the anniversary
book Dedicated to the Health of All Children:75 Years of Caring, 1930-2005, receiving an award from the American Medical Writers Association for his efforts.
While serving as president, Dr. Pearson fast-tracked the groundbreaking policy statement
on sudden infant death syndrome that urged placing infants to sleep on their backs.
As a member of the Committee on Nutrition, he wrote the AAP policy calling for formula
to be fortified with iron to prevent iron deficiency anemia. The policy spurred the
requirement that formulas covered by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for
Women, Infants, and Children be iron-fortified.
Dr. Pearson earned his medical degree from Dartmouth-Harvard in 1954 and entered the
Navy, where he completed his pediatric residency at the Bethesda Naval Hospital under
Thomas E. Cone Jr., M.D., FAAP. After completing a pediatric hematology fellowship
in Boston, he returned to Bethesda for four years as assistant chief to Dr. Cone and
was recruited as the first pediatric hematologist/oncologist at the University of
Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville in 1962. There, he studied sickle cell
and similar diseases.
After relocating to Connecticut, he became the first full-time pediatric hematologist/oncologist
in the state. He also set up the first division of pediatric hematology/oncology at
Yale. There, he made the discovery of functional asplenia of young children with sickle
cell anemia and identified Pearson marrow-pancreas syndrome, a mitochondrial rare
disease affecting the bone marrow and pancreas that usually begins in infancy.
In 1986, he was approached by a friend of Paul Newman to help establish a camp for
children with cancer and blood disorders in Connecticut. For 14 summers, Dr. Pearson
served as the full-time camp doctor and medical director. The camp by “Lake Pearson”
continues many traditions he helped start, including storytelling with totem poles.
Later, he authored a book about The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Proceeds from book
sales are donated to the camp (http://bit.ly/2farGhL).
In 2002, Dr. Pearson received the John Howland Award, the highest honor from the American
Pediatric Society, for distinguished service to pediatrics as a whole.
“I can’t remember many days when I have gone to work reluctantly,” Dr. Pearson said
in his oral history. “I think that’s a pretty good epitaph.”
He is survived by his wife, Anne, five children, including Stephen Pearson, M.D.,
FAAP, of Yakima, Wash., 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Grumbach
Melvin M. Grumbach, M.D., FAAP, of San Francisco, died of a heart attack Oct. 4 at age 90. Recipient of the AAP
Lifetime Achievement Award in Education, he also was awarded the John Howland Medal
from the American Pediatric Society (APS) and served as president of the APS and Endocrine
As a renowned pediatric endocrinologist, he pushed the discussion of social aspects
of research interests. His work encouraged better understanding of gender assignment
for children born with ambiguous genitalia. Dr. Grumbach also studied physiologic
action of growth hormone, leading to synthetic growth hormone for short stature, discouraging
its medicalization as a disease.
On faculty at University of California San Francisco for 50 years, Dr. Grumbach chaired
the Department of Pediatrics from 1966-’86 and established its pediatric endocrinology
After earning his medical degree and completing residency at the Columbia University
College of Physicians and Surgeons, he was a captain in the U.S. Air Force Medical
Corps. He completed fellowship training under Lawson Wilkins, M.D., FAAP, at Johns
Hopkins University School of Medicine.
He is survived by three sons and five grandchildren.
Additional recent deaths:
Margaret A. Baumgardt, M.D., FAAP, of Manitowoc, Wis., died Oct. 16 after a long illness at age 59.
Marie S. Blackman, M.D., FAAP, of Pompano Beach, Fla., died July 31 at age 87.
T. Donald Eisenstein, M.D., FAAP, of Fairfield, N.J., died Oct. 9 at age 86.
Anthony C. Gholz, M.D., FAAP, of Fort Gratiot, Mich., died July 12 at age 95.
Houshang Khorram, M.D., FAAP, of Middlesboro, Ky., died Oct. 18 at age 83.
Valarian A. Madappuli, M.D., FAAP, of Waterloo, Ontario, died Aug. 21 at age 88.
Percy G. Sullivan, M.D., FAAP, of Bessemer, Ala., died Oct. 18 at age 89.