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In Memoriam: Lewis Landsberg, MD '64

October 04, 2021

Lewis Landsberg, MD ’64, passed away on September 23, 2021. Revered by the legions of medical students, residents, and fellows whom he trained over the course of his 50-year career, Landsberg was a renowned clinician and researcher, a legendary teacher, and an influential role model.

“Lew contributed much to our understanding of the contribution of the sympathetic nervous system in hypertension and diabetes. He was a role model for many of us,” said Nancy J. Brown, MD, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of Medicine.

Landsberg’s ties to Yale School of Medicine ran deep. He graduated with honors in 1964 and was chief resident in medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital, a position later held by his son, Judd. During his time at Yale, he trained under the legendary Paul Beeson. As chair of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI) External Scientific Advisory Board from 2005 to 2020, he was instrumental in the center’s development. His commitment to the School of Medicine was evident through his support of critical funding opportunities and his mentorship of YCCI Scholars above and beyond his responsibilities on the board.

“During his tenure as chair of the External Advisory Board, Dr. Landsberg helped lead Yale forward in carrying out transformational clinical research and in mentoring the next generation of translational science leaders," said Brian Smith, MD, co-director of YCCI and deputy dean for research (clinical departments). "He was one of the giants of American medicine, a highly valued friend of Yale, and an alum that we are all extremely proud of.”

Landsberg was dean of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University from 1999 to 2007, after previously serving as the chair of the Department of Medicine. At the time of his retirement, the medical school named the deanship for him to honor his success at elevating the reputation of the school and the residency program. Before coming to Northwestern, Landsberg was professor of medicine at Harvard, firm chief at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, and a Yale School of Medicine faculty member for two years. In all these positions, he had a tremendous impact on his students, setting a high standard for professional integrity and demonstrating an uncanny ability to teach the finer points of clinical diagnosis. One of his trainees, Diane Krieger, MD, an endocrinologist from South Miami, Florida, said recently, “Dr. Landsberg lives in my brain. With each patient I ask myself, what would he think, what would he do?”

Trained in internal medicine with a focus on endocrinology—he began his research career at the National Institutes of Health in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Julius Axelrod—Landsberg’s biggest scientific breakthroughs came in his investigations of the effect of diet on the sympathetic nervous system. His subsequent work elucidated the connections between insulin, obesity, and hypertension. In addition to hundreds of scholarly publications, his 2016 book, On Rounds: 1000 Internal Medicine Pearls, provided a new generation of doctors and students with a comprehensive guide to the art of diagnosis. Landsberg chaired the Board of Management of the Journal of Hypertension from 1996 to 2019. In 2000, he was awarded the Franz Volhard Award by the International Society of Hypertension.

Submitted by Robert Forman on October 04, 2021