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Marjorie Rosenthal, MD, MPH

Associate Professor in Pediatrics (Gen Pediatrics)

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Marjorie Rosenthal, MD, MPH


In Memoriam: Marjorie Rosenthal, MD '95, MPH 1967–2020

Marjorie Sue Rosenthal, 53, died of colon cancer on December 1, 2020 at her home in New Haven, Conn., surrounded by the love of her daughters Maya and Elina Murarka, her family, and a large community of friends and colleagues. Margi was born on March 25, 1967 in Boston, Mass. and grew up in Newton, Mass. Margi went to Newton South High School and graduated from Harvard/Radcliffe College with a degree in social studies and received her medical degree from Yale School of Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins, received her Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellowship at UNC and Yale.

Margi was an associate professor of pediatrics at Yale and the associate director of the National Clinician Scholars Program, where she led the Program’s Community-Based Participatory Research Group, establishing ties between Yale Scholars and New Haven community-based organizations and stakeholders. Margi exemplified all the best qualities of an academic physician: as a teacher and role model, caregiver and community member, researcher and mentor. Margi devoted her research career to developing novel approaches to address health inequities for young, marginalized families.

Margi’s academic research and productivity is notable not only because of its high quality, but also for its purpose. She focused on identifying practical solutions to complicated community problems. Margi was curious, empathetic, and deeply committed to the principle of collaborative research. Margi’s success derived from the great joy she experienced from connecting people—planting the seeds of shared understanding and collaboration between stakeholders with different life experiences. Margi was recognized in 2016 with the Elm City Ivy Award. The award noted her to be “... as tireless in her commitment to improving the lives of New Haven’s children and families, as she is inspiring to a new generation of potential leaders to give back to New Haven.”

Margi has had a great impact on the New Haven community. By mentoring and inspiring a generation of clinician scholars at Yale, her impact will live on. One alumna shared that Margi “taught me to make a difference where it mattered for the community.” A current scholar encapsulated what many of her colleagues have expressed: “She took the time to really get to know me, what makes me tick. She was always available for personal and professional joys and challenges, making a remarkable investment of time, energy, patience, and compassion with everyone. Moving forward, mentoring is one of the many things in my life for which I will ask ‘what would Margi do?’”

Margi was a prolific and accomplished writer, whose lyrical and warm personal essays, op-eds, and graphic essays powerfully described her experiences as a mother, daughter, pediatrician, widow, and person living with metastatic cancer. She published medical essays in JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, and JAMA Oncology, and non-medical essays, including three essays in the NY Times in the last year. At the time of her death, she was completing her memoir. Although she wrote frequently about the central tragedies of her life—the early death of her husband Amal and her diagnosis of metastatic colon cancer—she wrote, as she lived, with authenticity, kindness, and fearlessness. While Margi experienced much tragedy, her writings and life were marked by joy and love.

Margi spent many of her summers on the shores of Ossipee, NH, at Camp Nellie Huckins, she loved to read, to travel (always sharing with everyone her 3 rules for vacationing), and to swim in lakes and oceans. Margi had a large circle of people for whom she was their best friend. She was a loyal and fierce friend to people from all periods of her life. She was a firm believer in building community—or “front-porching.” She was a devoted and loving family member who made every family event special, who showed up for every occasion and for every person—for both joy and pain. At the center of Margi’s life were her daughters, Maya and Elina—whom Margi loved and was proud of beyond measure.

In addition to her daughters, Margi is survived by her mother Cynthia “Shae” Rosenthal, her siblings Debbie (Jason) Bronfeld, and Jimmy (Helene) Rosenthal, her partner Brian McCabe, her in-laws Shyam and Saroj Murarka, her nieces and nephews, a large loving extended family, and a community of devoted and adoring friends, neighbors, and colleagues. She was predeceased by her husband Amal Murarka in 2003, and her dad Paul in 2015. In the seven years since her diagnosis, Margi’s strength, kindness, and joy were an inspiration and comfort to everybody she touched. In lieu of flowers, her family requests donations to several causes important to Margi: All Our Kin; Partners in Health; Camp Huckins Scholarship; Doctors without Borders; Indian Health Services, or any organization supporting health equity.

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Marjorie was a Co-Director of the National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP) and Director of the NCSP Community Research Initiative. She was a former RWJF Clinical Scholar from both Yale and the University of North Carolina. She was an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Yale University School of Medicine. Marjorie conducted research on decreasing health inequities for young, vulnerable families. Specifically, she studied ways in which non-traditional health educators (such as child care providers and peers in shared medical appointments) can help transcend barriers impacting health. She used community-based participatory research approaches and taught community-based participatory research to fellows and community members. Marjorie joined the faculty in 2005.

Education & Training

  • Fellow
    Yale University (2016)
  • MPH
    University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Health Care and Prevention (2005)
  • Fellow
    University of North Carolina (2005)
  • Resident
    Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD (1998)
  • Intern
    Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD (1996)
  • MD
    Yale University School of Medicine (1995)
  • BA
    Harvard-Radcliffe College, Social Studies (1989)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
John P. McGovern, MD AwardYale Humanities in Medicine2018
William Reichel Award for Outstanding Teaching2016
Mae Gailani Award for Uncompromising Commitment to Research and Patient CareDepartment of Pediatrics2015
Distinguished Community Service Award1993
Wilbur Downs International Health Fellow1992