Lives of the fellows

Sherman Mussoff Mellinkoff

b.23 March 1920 d.17 July 2016
BA Stanford(1941) MD FRCP(1981)

Sherman Mellinkoff was dean of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) school of medicine for 24 years, from 1962 to 1986. He was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, the third of four children of Albert and Helen Mellinkoff (née Mussoff), Ashkenazi Jews of Russian-Polish descent. Shortly after Mellinkoff was born the family moved to Los Angeles, where his father opened his own business, Mellinkoff’s Rite-Fit Shoe Company. Mellinkoff attended Beverley Hills High School and Stanford University, where he graduated in 1941 and went on to the medical school there.

He was an intern and then assistant resident at Stanford University Hospital and, from July 1945 to July 1947, served in the US Army Medical Corps, achieving the rank of captain. He was then an assistant resident at Johns Hopkins University and subsequently held a gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. From July 1950 to July 1951, he returned to Johns Hopkins as a resident. From July 1951 to January 1953 he was an instructor in medicine there and physician in charge of the gastroenterology (outpatient) department.

In February 1953 he joined the UCLA school of medicine as an assistant professor, becoming an associate professor in 1957 and a professor of medicine in 1962, when he was also invited to become the school’s second dean.

Under his direction, the medical school flourished, growing from an inaugural class of 28 students to include 1,500 interns, residents and fellows, almost 200 master’s and doctoral candidates and 3,000 alumni. Mellinkoff recruited world-class scientists and clinicians and established renal, bone marrow, heart and liver transplant programs. Under his direction, the medical campus was expanded to include a Neuropsychiatric Institute, the Jules Stein Eye Institute, the Brain Research Institute, Reed Neurological Research Center, the Marion Davies Children’s Centre and the Doris and Louis Factor Health Sciences Building, which houses the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Centre, plus new schools of dentistry, public health and nursing.

Mellinkoff also initiated a partnership between the school of medicine and the Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science to train medical students to serve low-income patients in South Los Angeles. And he established an MD/PhD training program funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Mellinkoff was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, vice president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. He received several awards from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

He retired in 1986, took a year-long sabbatical to travel, and then returned to UCLA to teach medicine as the first recipient of a $1 million endowed professorship.

In 1944 he married June O’Connell, a nurse. They had three children. Predeceased by a daughter, Cheryl, and his wife, he was survived by two children – Albert and Sherri.

RCP editor

[UCLA Newsroom Faculty + Staff In memoriam: Dr Sherman Mellinkoff led UCLA School of Medicine as dean for record 24 years 21 July 2016 http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/in-memoriam:-dr-sherman-mellinkoff-led-ucla-school-of-medicine-as-dean-for-record-24-years – accessed 27 October 2018; Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2018; 129: cvii-cix www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6116624/ – accessed 27 October 2018]

(Volume XII, page web)

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