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.
“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.
“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.”
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