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Spring 2014
BMM Current Issue
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Tribute To An Early Leader
A new scholarship honors an admired faculty member

In 1967, Leon Goldstein, PhD, P’82MD’86, P’85MD’92, was an assistant professor of physiology at Harvard Medical School. Ensconced in those ivy-covered walls, he received an offer: join Brown’s faculty as associate professor of biomedical sciences. At the time, Brown offered only a two-year Master of Medical Science degree, and there was no medical school. Goldstein understood, however, that change meant opportunity and appreciated that graduate medical education at Brown was intertwined with undergraduate learning. He decided with his wife, Barbara, to move to Rhode Island.

Goldstein, a professor emeritus of medical science, passed away on December 30, 2012. This would have marked his 45th year in the Ocean State, where he had a significant influence on biomedical education. He advocated strongly for the creation of Brown’s medical school and of the University’s section of physiology, which he chaired for more than 20 years before becoming vice chair of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology (MPPB). “He was a stimulating colleague, a productive scientist, a talented teacher, and an effective administrator,” says Professor Emeritus of MPPB Donald Jackson of the colleague he worked beside for 40 years. “I will always treasure the memory of his wit and upbeat personality.”

Through his scholarly work, Goldstein also had impact well beyond Brown. He “made seminal scientific contributions to the field of physiology at large,” says Wayne Bowen, Upjohn Professor of Pharmacology and chair of the Department of MPPB. Goldstein’s research, funded continuously since 1962, focused on renal acid excretion and cell volume regulation. His work helped advance understanding of the mechanisms that cells employ in regulating their volume under normal conditions and during osmotic stress—research that may provide clues for diabetes and cancer treatment.

Most of all, Goldstein left behind those changed by his mentorship—including, notably, his children, Jonathan ’82 MD’86 and Susanne ’85 MD’92. “He was caring and fatherly—supportive, accessible, encouraging, and respectful,” says Siribhinya Benyajati PhD’77, professor of physiology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and a former graduate student in his lab. This dedication extended well beyond the classroom. Every summer Goldstein would bring one undergraduate to Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Maine (MDIBL)—a rare treat for a young scientist.

“When he left the MDIBL for the last time in 2010, I realized we lost one of our most productive and collegial scientists,” says David H. Evans, professor emeritus of biology at the University of Florida.

The impact of Goldstein’s life reverberates, not only through his mentees and research, but also through the generosity of his family. To honor the considerable legacy of their late father and husband, the Goldsteins have established a medical student scholarship bearing his name. The gift will support students who exhibit a strong commitment to scholarship beyond the required curriculum.

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