Obituary: Louis Gilula, professor of radiology, 71

Louis Gilula, MD, a faculty member at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis for more than 30 years, died July 2, 2014, of pancreatic cancer. A founder and longtime leader of the musculoskeletal section at the school’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR), Gilula, 71, was a professor of radiology, orthopaedics and plastic and reconstructive surgery when he retired in October 2013.

Gilula (Credit: Mickey Wynn)

Gilula was known internationally for his expertise in wrist imaging, and he authored one of the major texts on this subject. He was also a pioneer in pain management, offering patients therapeutic spine injections before they became commonplace.

“He was a giant in the field who cared deeply about patient care and teaching,” said David Rubin, MD, Gilula’s successor as director of musculoskeletal imaging. “There are radiologic landmarks known as ‘Gilula’s arcs’ that we still use today to assess wrist alignment.”

A native of Lubbock, Texas, Gilula earned his medical degree at the University of Illinois School of Medicine in 1967. After internships and residencies at San Francisco General Hospital, Dewitt Army Hospital in Fort Belvoir, Va., and Max C. Starkloff Memorial Hospital in St. Louis, he became an instructor in radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in 1973.

Gilula regularly appeared in Best Doctors in America, an annual list that identifies specialists considered by fellow physicians to be the most skilled in their fields and the most qualified to review and treat complex medical conditions.

Gilula’s honors included fellowship in the American College of Radiology. Students and residents at MIR gave him the institute’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award in 2008 and 2009 and named him Teacher of the Year in 2010.

“Dr. Gilula taught his students with infinite patience, unending enthusiasm and just enough humor and humility,” Rubin said.

Gilula is survived by his wife, Deborah; son, Ian Gilula; daughter, Tanya Gilula; sister, Joan Gilula; and brothers Norton, Stanley, Stephen and Mark Gilula.

A memorial service was held July 6 at Congregation Shaare Emeth, 11645 Ladue Road, in St. Louis.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Rik Knopf Fund for Pancreatic Cancer Research at Washington University, Campus Box 1204, 7425 Forsyth Blvd., Ste. 2200, St. Louis, MO 63105, or to the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, 12 Millstone Campus Dr., St. Louis, MO 63146.