AAP past president, renowned journal editor dies at age 92
TrishaKorioth, Staff writer
AAP Past President Robert J. Haggerty, M.D., FAAP, who predicted that the pediatrician’s
role would shift to treating the “new morbidity” of behavioral, developmental and
social functioning problems, died Jan. 23 at age 92.
“Dr. Haggerty’s contribution to the care of children and the field of pediatrics cannot
be overstated,” said AAP CEO/Executive Vice President Karen Remley, M.D., M.B.A.,
M.P.H., FAAP. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have known him beyond his reputation.”
Dr. Haggerty, of Canandaigua, N.Y., was a renowned educator, researcher and mentor
who was dedicated to unifying academics and practice. His concepts reshaped pediatrics
to reflect integration of child health services, a stronger focus on partnership with
other disciplines and organizations, and an increased family, community and global
He launched Pediatrics in Review (PIR) in 1979 as part of the Academy’s Pediatrics Review and Education Program, and it
became the world’s preeminent pediatric education journal. The journal’s first editorial
office was in Dr. and Mrs. Muriel Haggerty’s New York apartment. Mrs. Haggerty was
the journal’s founding editorial assistant. One of her more visible roles was selecting
children’s artwork for the journal covers. By the time Dr. Haggerty retired in 2004
after 25 years as editor in chief, the journal had editions in six languages and an
international circulation of nearly 80,000.
“He believed that pediatric education should change to meet the needs of children,
not the other way around,” said Errol R. Alden, M.D., FAAP, former AAP executive director/CEO.
PIR Editor in Chief Joseph A. Zenel Jr., M.D., FAAP, recalled an email from Dr. Haggerty
about a “too-long” article. “You’ve lost the point. You have to be practical,” Dr.
Haggerty told him.
“He was always mentoring. He always wanted to make sure PIR was of and for general pediatricians,” Dr. Zenel said.
Wherever he went, Dr. Haggerty supported general pediatrics and the new morbidity,
which he wrote about in the 1960s and in the 1975 book Child Health and the Community. He also established programs in family care, inner-city health, and migrant and behavioral
and developmental care.
He was a driving force behind the community pediatrics specialty, the behavioral pediatrics
field (with Stanford Friedman, M.D., FAAP) and ambulatory pediatrics (with Morris
Green, M.D., FAAP).
Dr. Haggerty earned his M.D. from Cornell University Medical School, interned at Strong
Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., then served as a physician in the U.S. Air Force
during the Korean War. After a residency at Children’s Hospital, Boston, he continued
on at the hospital and was on the Harvard Medical School faculty for 10 years before
becoming pediatrics chair at University of Rochester School of Medicine and chief
of pediatrics at Strong Memorial. He later returned to Harvard to chair the Department
of Health Services.
A sought-after leader, Dr. Haggerty was founder and president of the Academic Pediatric
Association (formerly the Ambulatory Pediatric Association) and executive director
of the International Pediatric Association. He also was senior program consultant
and director of the General Pediatric Academic Development Program of the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation and president of the William T. Grant Foundation.
As AAP president (1984-’85), he worked to bring members together and build coalitions
in the U.S. and internationally. Within the Academy, he united pediatricians with
the formation of the Council on Education, Council on Practice and Research and the
Council on Government Affairs. He also helped establish the Pediatric Research in
Office Settings network that bridges practice and academic pediatrics.
His numerous honors include the Clifford Grulee Award from the Academy, the John Howland
Award from American Pediatric Society, the Gustave Lienhard Award from the Institute
of Medicine, the Alfred I. DuPont Award for Excellence in Children’s Health Care from
the Nemours Foundation and the Martha May Eliot Award from American Public Health
Dr. and Mrs. Haggerty enjoyed hosting gatherings at their home and traveling abroad.
The couple tracked their trips with pushpins on a large map, said Lawrence F. Nazarian,
M.D., FAAP, PIR editor emeritus.
“He knew the world. For all of the acknowledgement he had, he was a very humble and
gentle person,” Dr. Nazarian said.
He was predeceased by Muriel, his wife of 64 years. He is survived by four children,
10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Haggerty-Friedman Fund and Professorship
of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. For information, visit http://bit.ly/2FxhbSL.