Brian HoffmanBrian F. Hoffman, MD
Brian F. Hoffman, MD, the Hosack Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology and chair of the P&S Department of Pharmacology for more than 30 years, died Feb. 11, 2013. Dr. Hoffman was an important figure in the growth and development of cardiac electrophysiology in both basic and clinical science, and experiments in his lab led to the creation of a new field of invasive cardiac electrophysiology. 

In 2000 he received the P&S Distinguished Service Award, the college’s highest honor, in recognition of his leadership in cardiovascular pharmacology research and for initiating a broad program of interdisciplinary studies in cardiovascular pharmacology and physiology by enlisting colleagues in physiology, pathology, medicine, surgery, and pediatrics. Columbia also honored him in 1986 with the Stevens Triennial Prize, given for meritorious original research. 

In addition to chairing a department at Columbia, Dr. Hoffman served as the medical school’s associate dean starting in 1988, responsible for the grants and contracts office and the animal care program. He played a leading role in obtaining an NIH Medical Scientist Training Program grant for P&S and directed the program during its first six years. The program evolved into today’s combined MD/PhD program.

He co-authored the seminal book in his discipline, “The Electrophysiology of the Heart,” in 1960 with Paul F. Cranefield, his colleague at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where Dr. Hoffman served on the faculty from 1949 until 1963. He received his MD degree from Long Island College of Medicine, now SUNY Downstate.

Seymour LiebermanSeymour Lieberman, PhD
Seymour Lieberman, professor emeritus of biochemistry & molecular biophysics, died Oct. 8, 2012. He was a P&S faculty member for more than 60 years, including several years at Roosevelt Hospital. Even at the time of his death at age 95, he continued to head a research laboratory and was funded for work exploring the role of steroids in hypertension.

Past president of the American Endocrine Society, Dr. Lieberman was a noted leader in endocrinology research. He pioneered the study of the metabolism of steroid hormones with work that ranged from reproductive endocrinology, the synthesis and breakdown of steroid hormones, and the modeling of intracellular mechanisms of hormone formation and interconversion. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1977. 

Dr. Lieberman earned a PhD from Stanford and conducted research at Harvard before traveling to Basel, Switzerland, to study with Nobelist Tadeus Reichstein. After returning to the United States he worked at Sloan-Kettering Institute before joining the Columbia faculty in 1951.

Besides his prolific research career, Dr. Lieberman will be remembered at Columbia as a mentor and educator, for a distinguished weekly journal club attended by physicians and scientists from around New York City, and for his advocacy for reproduction and population control. He received the P&S Distinguished Service Award, the college’s highest honor, in 1991.

Other Faculty Deaths

William A. Bauman, MD​, clinical professor of pediatrics, died Nov. 28, 2012. See more in Alumni In Memoriam, Class of 1947.

David Birkett, MD, associate research scientist in psychiatry, died Feb. 27, 2012.

James J. Elting, MD, assistant clinical profes­sor of orthopedic surgery at Bassett, died Aug. 10, 2012.

John Wilson Espy, MD, clinical professor emeritus of ophthalmology, died Dec. 22, 2012.

Robert A. Fishman, MD, former faculty member in neurology, died Dec. 4, 2012. Dr. Fishman was a prominent neurologist who led the neurology department at the University of California San Francisco for 26 years. As president of the American Academy of Neurology in the 1970s, he championed separation of neurology from psychiatry in the American boards. His second year of residency was spent at New York Neurological Institute with H. Houston Merritt, and he returned to Columbia after the Korean War to complete his residency. He served on the P&S faculty until he was recruited to UCSF in 1966.

Frederick Allen Hensley Jr., MD, former chief of anesthesia, clinical professor of anesthesiology, and director of perioperative services at Bassett, died Jan. 14, 2013.

Joseph Jaffe, MD, professor of clinical psychiatry, died Aug. 2, 2012.

Arthur Laidlaw, MD, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at Bassett, died Nov. 19, 2012.

Robert B. Mellins, MD, professor emeritus of pediatrics, died Dec. 12, 2012. Dr. Mellins, who had been associated with Columbia since his residency in 1955, was the first director of the pediatric pulmonary division of Babies Hospital and a leader in establishing pediatric pulmonology as a subspecialty. As an asthma expert, he served on local, national, and international committees to raise the standard of asthma care.

Ethel Person, MD, former professor of clinical psychiatry, died Oct. 16, 2012. See more in Alumni In Memoriam, Class of 1967 PSY.

Edward E. Smith, PhD, the William B. Ransford Professor of Psychology (in Psychiatry), died Aug. 17, 2012.

P.R. Srinivasan, PhD, professor emeritus of biochemistry & molecular biophysics, died Oct. 23, 2012.

Bluma Swerdloff, DSW, special lecturer in psychiatry, died Aug. 8, 2012.

E. Donnall Thomas, MD, former physician in chief at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital and winner of the Nobel Prize in 1990, died Oct. 20, 2012. Dr. Thomas and others at Bassett completed the first bone marrow transplant in history in 1956 when bone marrow from a healthy twin was transfused to a twin with leukemia. He served as physician in chief at Bassett until 1963, when he moved to the University of Washington and further refined bone marrow transplantation.

James A. Wolff, MD, professor emeritus of pediatrics, died Dec. 24, 2012.