Obituary: Gerald Medoff, former director of infectious diseases, 82

Gerald Medoff photo

Gerald Medoff, MD, professor emeritus of medicine and beloved former director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, died peacefully Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in hospice care at Evelyn’s House in Creve Coeur, Mo., following a long bout with Parkinson’s disease. He was 82.

Medoff became director of the Division of Infectious Diseases in 1972 and served in the position for two decades, during which time he led the division’s transformation into a nationally renowned clinical and research arm of the university. In 1992, he stepped down as director to become vice chair of clinical affairs in the Department of Medicine. And in 2000, he founded the Division of Hospital Medicine with Mark Thoelke, MD, professor of medicine.

Medoff was perhaps best known and admired for his insistence on compassionate care for patients from all walks of life. At the start of the AIDS epidemic, when many providers refused to care for such patients, Medoff established an AIDS clinic and fostered specific programs to ensure the best possible medical care for them and their loved ones. He formed close relationships with his patients and taught generations of medical students, residents and fellows how to listen to, examine and care for patients with compassion and respect.

He went on, at the height of the epidemic, to found the first AIDS Clinical Trials Unit at Washington University, creating resources and infrastructure to provide care and identify new methods to diagnose and treat patients with HIV.

“Dr. Medoff made significant contributions to the infectious diseases division, Department of Medicine and the School of Medicine,” said Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor of Medicine and head of the Department of Medicine. “He essentially built the division from scratch. He saw patients during the day, ran his research lab at night and recruited outstanding faculty in basic, clinical and translational research. He was an excellent role model and mentor. He cared deeply about his fellows and faculty and nurtured the division like a family.”

In 2014, the division established the annual Gerald Medoff, MD, Visiting Professorship, in honor of Medoff’s leadership, outstanding vision, dedication and commitment to excellence during his tenure as director.

He is survived by his wife, Judith Medoff; his sons Benjamin Medoff, MD, and Nathaniel Medoff; and four grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Berger Memorial Chapel, 9430 Olive Blvd., in Olivette, Mo. Visitation will begin at 2:30 p.m. and the service at 3 p.m. Internment will follow at Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery, 9125 Ladue Road, in Ladue, Mo.

Read the full obituary on the School of Medicine site.

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