In Memoriam: Samuel I. Rapaport, MD

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Samuel I. Rapaport, MD
1921 – 2011

Samuel I. Rapaport, MD, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Pathology at UC San Diego and a former chief of the Division of Hematology, died December 20, 2011, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was 90.

A renowned hematologist, physician-scientist and teacher, Rapaport was internationally recognized for his research on the biochemistry of blood coagulation and the mechanism of clotting in disease.

Dr. Sandy Shattil“Sam was a major figure in American and international hematology,” said Sanford Shattil, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology.

“He made seminal basic and translational contributions to our understanding of blood coagulation.”

Rapaport joined the UCSD School of Medicine faculty in 1974 as the first chief of the medicine service at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

During 22 years at UCSD, he served as a chief of the Division of Hematology and directed both clinical and research laboratories in hematology.

“Sam Rapaport was the epitome of a triple-threat physician-scientist,” said David N. Bailey, MD, Distinguished Research Professor of Pathology and Pharmacy, Emeritus Professor and former chair of the Department of Pathology, and Deputy Dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“His teaching at all levels was superb,” Bailey said. “His clinical care was legendary, often extending into late-night patient visits, and his research was world-class.”

In the Department of Pathology, Rapaport founded and directed the Special Coagulation Laboratory for the UCSD Medical Center. Its director today is Dzung T. Le, MD, PhD, associate professor of clinical pathology, whom Rapaport mentored.

Said Le, “He was like a second father to me. Indeed, his treated his patients, his students, his laboratory technicians, his administrative assistants as if they were members of his own family.

“That was why many of his patients, his former colleagues and students remained good friends long after he retired. It was my distinct honor to be a member of his laboratory and to continue his legacy at the Special Coagulation Laboratory at UCSD.”

“I interacted with Sam in the formative years when we were both in the Department of Medicine,” said Palmer Taylor, PhD, who joined the School of Medicine as an assistant professor of pharmacology in 1971. “He brought to the Department a great balance of research and clinical skills.”

“Sam was an early supporter of the development of Pharmacology as the first basic science department and later the emergence of the School of Pharmacy from the planning stages,” Taylor said.

Taylor, the founding dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, is Sandra and Monroe Trout Professor of Pharmacology and Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences.

On the national scene, Rapaport was a major influence in the development of the American Society of Hematology and served as its president in 1977. He was active in numerous academic societies and advisory groups.

Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky“Sam was the consummate scholar; he approached medicine, and life, with verve, compassion, inquisitiveness and intelligence,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP, former Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSD.

Kaushansky is Senior Vice President, Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine at Stony Brook University in New York. Also a hematologist, he served as president of the American Society of Hematology in 2008.

“He embodied all the best in the profession,” Kaushansky said. “I am saddened to know the world took a big hit with his passing.”

Shattil said, “He was a beloved member of our Hematology-Oncology Division. We will greatly miss his sage, gentle advice and his friendship.”

“He was a kind, warm human being,” said Bailey. “He will be sorely missed.”

Biography

Samuel I. Rapaport was born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1921. He received his undergraduate degree at UCLA and his MD in 1945 from the University of Southern California School of Medicine. After his residency training at the Long Beach Veterans Administration Hospital, he remained on staff as faculty supervisor of the hematology ward.

In the early 1950s, his interest in blood coagulation led to a Fulbright scholarship for a year of research in Dr. Paul Owren’s laboratory in Norway. Rapaport returned to the Long Beach VA in 1954 and founded a clinical and research coagulation laboratory. He was soon recruited to UCLA to do the same.

In 1958, he was asked to establish a hematology division at the University of Southern California. There, too, he set up clinical and research coagulation laboratories. He went on to conduct groundbreaking investigations of the mechanisms of blood coagulation in health and disease, spending the last two decades of his career at UCSD. He retired from the University in 1996 at the age of 75.

Rapaport was a past president of the American Society of Hematology, the Western Association of Physicians and the Western Society for Clinical Research. He was a member of the American College of Physicians and the National Academy of Sciences. In 2008, he was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Profiles of Dr. Rapaport

Four Internal Medicine Subspecialties Shine for UCSD Medical Center on 2009 “America’s Best Hospitals” List

Ken Kaushansky, MD, MACP“Internal medicine subspecialties stood out again this year in the high rankings for UCSD Medical Center on the ‘America’s Best Hospitals’ list from U.S. News & World Report,” said Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

“And when you add in HIV care, which is listed separately every year and in which we are always ranked in the top 10 nationally, there is much for our faculty to be proud of,” he said.

America's Best HospitalsRated among the nation’s best were four UC San Diego Department of Medicine subspecialties:

With top-50 rankings in psychiatry (20th) and urology (39th) as well, UCSD Medical Center earned top-50 ratings in a total of six specialties.

The showing makes UCSD Medical Center one of the top-rated hospitals in the country. Of more than 4800 hospitals screened for the “America’s Best Hospitals” report, only 174 received a top-50 rating in even a single medical specialty.

“Our presence in multiple rankings is proof that our combination of innovative patient care, education and research is truly enviable,” said David Brenner, M.D., Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine, in his announcement to Health Sciences staff.

With this year’s high ranking in respiratory diseases, the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine has achieved a decade of consecutive top-20 ratings.

The U.S. News rankings examined the quality of care in 16 medical subspecialties from cancer to urology.

Two medical centers in the University of California system ranked in the top 10 overall: Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles (3rd) and UCSF Medical Center (7th).

Read the full story from UC San Diego News

Med Into Grad “Makes it All Real,” Says UCSD Doctoral Researcher

From basic science laboratory to Peruvian TB clinic: Scarlet Shell, UCSD doctoral candidate in Biomedical Sciences and graduate of the Med Into Grad program.

Scarlet Shell, UCSD graduate researcher and Med Into Grad participantWhen Scarlet Shell leaves UCSD this year, she’ll have a new doctorate in biomedical sciences and an unforgettable grounding in the real world of infectious disease.

Deeply interested in tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment, she’s headed for postdoctoral research in a TB laboratory at Harvard.

And, thanks to the Med Into Grad program, she knows exactly what it’s like to diagnose and treat TB with scant resources, time-consuming tests, and trial-and-error antibiotic therapy.

Last year, UCSD’s Med Into Grad program took her to clinics and laboratories in Peru, where TB is a major health problem.

She accompanied healthcare workers to remote clinics, assisted Peruvian laboratory researchers, and met patients face to face.

“It makes it all real,” she says, “in a way that never quite happens from reading about it or hearing about it.”

Peru

Med Into Grad is a science education program that gives basic scientists a clinical experience during their doctoral training. The goal is to help medical researchers focus directly on improving patient care in their future work.

Each student is placed for three to six months in a clinical setting that matches his or her research interests.

“My Med Into Grad experience has provided a big picture view of the problem of TB and all its different facets,” Scarlet says.

“I think it’s important for setting research priorities: what questions can we ask to get the information we need to tackle this problem?”

She says the experience confirmed her decision to change her research focus and intensified her desire to find better ways to detect and treat TB.


“I was in the right place
at the right time –
or Med Into Grad was.”


Scarlet did most of her graduate studies in Dr. Richard Kolodner’s cancer research laboratory investigating DNA mismatch repair.

Dr. Kolodner is Professor of Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and head of the Cancer Genetics program at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

As time went on, Scarlet became increasingly interested in infectious disease, particularly tuberculosis and malaria.

She read extensively about TB and decided she wanted to change her research focus, but didn’t know how the transition was going to happen.

Then she heard about Med Into Grad. “I was in the right place in the right time,” she says. “Or the Med Into Grad program was.”

Last April, she left her laboratory bench on the UCSD campus for Peru. The opportunity came through Dr. Joseph Vinetz, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UCSD.

Dr. Vinetz is an expert in tropical infectious diseases including malaria and leptospirosis. In addition to his UCSD laboratory, he collaborates with Peruvian and other U.S. investigators in a lab in Iquitos, a rural city in the Peruvian Amazon rain forest.

Scarlet spent several weeks in Dr. Vinetz’s malaria laboratory in Iquitos.

She visited the local hospital with nurses and other health workers. There, she had her first up-close encounters with infectious disease patients.

“I got to see what kinds of diseases people came in for, how they were diagnosed, and how they were treated,” she said.

She went on to Lima, the capital city, where she worked in laboratories operated by collaborators of Dr. Vinetz under the auspices of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia.

The laboratories conduct basic and clinical research in improving TB diagnosis and drug sensitivity testing. The aim is to find techniques that do not require costly equipment or extensive resources, so that they can be used in underdeveloped countries.


“Being in that environment
made the barriers to treatment
really obvious.”


Until she went to Peru, her career had involved an entirely different kind of interaction – with yeast, the organism used as a model system in her laboratory studies.

Now she had the chance to see how Peruvian mothers juggled transportation and child care issues as they went through the slow and arduous process of TB testing and treatment.

“Being in that environment made the barriers to treatment really obvious,” she says.

She watched how patients and doctors wrestled with logistics. TB diagnosis takes several clinic visits, and often takes many weeks. Drug therapy has to be given several times a week for at least 6 months.

“Most people don’t have cars,” she said. “The patients face choices day by day – do I go to the clinic for my treatment, or do I go to work?”

She saw how greatly the situation would improve if there were a way to diagnose TB more rapidly, and treat it with a shorter course of medicines.

In Lima, Scarlet took part in clinical research in the laboratory and she helped analyze a large database of experimental results from a clinical study.

She worked with Dr. Carlton A. Evans, an English infectious disease researcher from Imperial College London, who spends most of his time in the field in Peru.

Last November, she presented some of the Peruvian TB research data at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Philadelphia.


On to Harvard
with “another level of motivation”


At Harvard, Scarlet will choose her research studies in light of her Med Into Grad experience. She’s considering investigations of how TB evades the immune response to persist inside the host, or why treatment takes so long.

Med Into Grad has given her “another level of motivation,” she says.

It has also given her research connections and projects to help establish her career.

She helps with data analysis for the Lima laboratory on her own time now. It’s part of her own connection with a healthcare effort that has become personally significant to her.

“I got to see how they did what they do,” she says. “It was a really cool experience to actually get to participate.

“It makes it all real. TB is a disease that causes so much death and so many problems. There is a need for better diagnosis and better treatment.”

About Med Into Grad at UCSD

“The Med Into Grad program gives a basic science student the chance to witness firsthand the opportunities where science can improve clinical medicine,” says Dr. Ken Kaushansky.

Dr. Kaushansky and Dr. Mark P. Kamps are founders and co-directors of the Med Into Grad program at UCSD.

Dr. Kaushansky is Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine. Dr. Kamps is Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in the Department of Pathology.

UCSD is one of several leading universities to offer Med Into Grad. The program is funded by a science education grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a nonprofit research institution.

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