Campus & Community

Harvey Goldman

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Faculty of Medicine — Memorial Minute

Harvey Goldman, M.D. was born on May 25, 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the city in which he spent his formative years. He received an A.B. degree in mathematics in 1953 and his M.D. in 1957, both from Temple University, where he was elected to membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. After a rotating internship at Philadelphia General Hospital, he did his residency in pathology at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. In 1964, following a two-year assignment as a pathologist at the U. S. Naval Hospital in Great Lakes, Michigan, he returned to Boston, Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School (HMS). Over the next 45 years, he developed a stellar academic career. Beginning as an Instructor, he rose through the ranks to become in 1976 Professor of Pathology at HMS and also in the Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), a separate academic track to train physician scientists. In 1989, Harvey left Beth Israel Hospital to become Chairman of Pathology at both the New England Deaconess and the New England Baptist Hospitals, positions he held until 1996 when the Beth Israel and Deaconess Hospitals merged to become the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). At BIDMC, he served as Senior Pathologist and Vice Chairman of the Department of Pathology until his death. For many years he was also a consultant in gastrointestinal pathology at several other Harvard institutions, including Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Goldman died on April 6, 2009 from complications of a hematologic disorder. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Eleonora (Nora) Galvanek, herself a distinguished Harvard pathologist; daughter Vierka; son Sasha; son Dr. Palko Goldman and his wife, Dr. Lida Nabati; and grandson Jasper.

Harvey Goldman was a “quadruple threat”: teacher and mentor, clinician, clinical researcher, and administrator, listed in the order of his preference, although he excelled in all facets of academia. He was first an outstanding teacher at HMS, at Beth Israel Hospital/BIDMC and at the national and international levels. At HMS, he not only taught for many years in the basic pathology course and the gastrointestinal pathophysiology block but also in the cardiovascular, renal, and respiratory pathophysiology courses. For 14 years he was the Pathology Coordinator for an elective Systemic Pathology Course for third- and fourth-year medical students He served as Chairman of the HST Human Pathology Course from 1971-1988, and supervised the elective Pathology Clerkship at Beth Israel Hospital for 18 years. As an administrator, he completed terms as Chairman of the Preclinical Promotion Board, the Curriculum Committee, the Pathology Education Committee, and the Faculty Teaching Activity Committee. An important mandate of the latter group was to quantify and elevate the role of teaching as a criterion for academic promotion, a role previously under-recognized at HMS. Success in these endeavors resulted in his being chosen to serve a five-year term as Faculty Dean for Medical Education (1988-1993). In this capacity, he played an important part in implementing the conversion of the preclinical curriculum from a lecture-based to a small group, tutorial-based, interactive format; i.e., the HMS New Pathway. He received multiple teaching awards from the medical students between 1970 and 2006, culminating in his being awarded the Special Faculty Prize for Sustained Excellence in Teaching in 2007. Harvey’s interests in teaching also extended to the postgraduate level, and he was a dedicated and beloved teacher of scores of pathology residents and fellows. At BIDMC, Harvey was the first recipient of the newly created Resident Teaching Award in Anatomic Pathology in 2001; in addition, he was also selected that year for the S. Robert Stone Honorary Teaching Award, a yearly prize given to an outstanding clinician-educator at the medical center.

Dr. Goldman was also a giant in teaching at the national and international levels. He was a founding member of the Gastrointestinal Pathology Society (now the Roger Haggitt Gastrointestinal Pathology Society) and served as its president (1982-1983). He was also active in the New England Society of Pathologists (President, 1992-1993), the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, and the International Academy of Pathology (North America vice-president). However, he is best remembered for his contributions to the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP), the society for which he was a tireless advocate. He served on nearly all of its committees, was Chairman of the Education Committee, a member of the governing council, led courses (his gastrointestinal mucosal biopsy course ran for over 10 years by popular demand), and was its President (1999-2000). At the time of his death, he was enthusiastically engaged in planning, with two other BIDMC faculty, a new Short Course on gastrointestinal pathology. His many contributions to USCAP were recognized by his receipt of both the F.K. Mostofi Distinguished Service Award (1995) and the Distinguished Pathologist Award (2006). His abilities as an educator were also recognized by his many invitations to serve as a visiting professor, lecturer, or course director at numerous institutions and professional society meetings throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe as well as forays to Israel, Argentina, and the Far East.

Dr. Goldman was not only a master educator but also an outstanding surgical pathologist and investigator in the field of gastrointestinal pathology. Interpretation of gastrointestinal mucosal biopsies is now so well established that it is difficult to recall that in the 1960’s, the use of flexible endoscopy, with the ability to sample esophageal, gastric, small-intestinal, and colonic mucosa, was in its infancy. Harvey was one of the pioneers in advancing study of mucosal specimens and correlating the findings with clinical and imaging data to obtain accurate diagnoses. His studies, often in collaboration with other pathologists and clinicians, resulted in major contributions in many areas including reflux esophagitis, allergic gastrointestinal disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and Barrett’s esophagus. Of particular note was his contribution to establishing criteria for the diagnosis of dysplasia in both inflammatory bowel disease and Barrett’s esophagus. In addition to publishing numerous original articles on these subjects, Harvey co-edited two editions of a major textbook on GI pathology and published a monograph on GI mucosal biopsies. His two-part paper on the usefulness of GI mucosal biopsies, published in 1982 in “Human Pathology,” remains a landmark review that is still widely referenced.

There was a personal side to Harvey that was equally, or even more, important to him than his public achievements. No matter how busy he was, Harvey was devoted to his family and always found time to share their lives. As his son Palko said, “He really made a point to get out of work at 5:30 and participate in our Little League games and our homework. But at the same time, he would have to get back to work, and I have this image of him working at the dining room table until the early hours of the morning. Lots of people sacrifice their careers for their family or the opposite. I really think my father excelled at both and sacrificed neither.” Everyone who worked with him knew he wanted you to succeed; he could be a firm but constructive critic in the preparation of lectures, abstracts, and manuscripts, always with the goal of improving the material at hand. Even during the several months of his final illness, he continued to teach residents and fellows on a daily basis, and kept in constant, supportive contact with colleagues who were ill or hospitalized. As his daughter Vierka said, “He really experienced joy in other people’s successes. A lot of people pretend to, but they’re secretly jealous, and he really wasn’t like that, which is a very rare quality.” About 35 years ago, Harvey and his wife Eleonora discovered a tiny resort on the Adriatic coast of Italy. They formed a warm and lasting bond with the Italian family who owned the “pensione” at which they stayed. Among all the foreign destinations he knew, this became the resort of choice for relaxation, and he and his wife returned for a two-week holiday every year, becoming the adopted US component of an extended Italian family.

In 1991, Harvey had a heart attack and immediately quit smoking. At his family’s suggestion, he used his former cigarette money to buy two season tickets for Red Sox games. For the rest of his life, he combined his love of baseball with his love of reading. He brought a book to every Red Sox game, and would read between innings and even during protracted innings, a fact observed by his fellow season ticket holders. His son Palko recalls that, “One night when a non-season ticket holder a few seats down remarked, ‘Look at the guy reading a book. How can you read a book at a baseball game?’ Someone responded, ‘He watches a thousand innings a year.’” Ironically, Harvey died on the date that was scheduled to be opening day of the 2009 Red Sox season.

On November 17, 2009, a symposium was held in the rotunda of the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center to celebrate Dr. Goldman’s life and achievements. Dean Jeffrey Flier reviewed Harvey’s many accomplishments in teaching, noting that “his clear, elegant, well-organized communication style, his personal warmth and his consensus-building skills translated into several educational leadership positions at HMS.” He read from the nomination for the Special Faculty Prize for Sustained Excellence in Teaching that Harvey received two years ago: “He knows GI pathology like the back of his hand and he is a motivator of medical students. Regarding his ability to teach: being in his Castle Society GI path group, he was like the Pied Piper attracting all the students from all sections. He is also interested in the personal lives and well-being of medical students, as evidenced by his frequent lunches with many students in the class. He even sent food to a student who was studying late at the Medical Education Center!” Dean Flier further noted that at the time Harvey was appointed Faculty Dean of Medical Education, an HMS publication quoted Harvey as saying: “I derive great joy from teaching pathology.” Dean Flier stated that “it brings me great joy to know that Harvey felt uplifted by his work at HMS, as we were so fortunate to be uplifted by him.”

Robert Najarian, M.D., gastrointestinal pathology fellow at BIDMC, remembered Dr. Goldman as the “ultimate educator,” noting that “humor was his hammer.” When one resident was correct on two of three diagnoses and thought that that was pretty good, Harvey responded that “2 out of 3 was excellent in baseball but awful in pathology.”

Henry Appelman, M.D., Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan and Harvey’s colleague for more than 30 years, remembered Dr Goldman as “a pioneer in gastrointestinal pathology, a superior intellect, a creative mind.” Dr. Appelman noted that Harvey, he, and a few other contemporaries were founders of the field of gastrointestinal pathology and we “had no one to teach us so we taught ourselves.” Harvey was “at or near the top of the list of the most important people in gastrointestinal pathology over the past 40 years.”

Fred Silva, Executive Vice President, USCAP, spoke warmly of his associations with Harvey over the course of more than 25 years at USCAP. Referring to the enormous influence that Harvey had in educating generations of medical students and pathologists, he concluded by applying to Harvey the inscription on the gravestone of Sir Christopher Wren: “LECTOR, SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS, CIRCUMSPICE,” which translates as “reader, if you seek his memorial – look around you.”

In recognition of Dr. Goldman’s monumental contributions to the teaching of pathology, the Department of Pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the USCAP have jointly endowed an award named for Dr. Goldman to be given to a master educator in pathology. This award will be bestowed each year at the annual meeting of the USCAP. Finally, as a lasting memorial to Harvey’s presence in pathology at BIDMC, the main departmental conference room in which he spent thousands of hours teaching residents and fellows has been named the Harvey Goldman, MD Conference Room and bears his portrait and a commemorative plaque.

Professor Harvey Goldman was a giant in the field of pathology, and he is sorely missed as a friend and colleague.

Respectfully submitted,

Harold F. Dvorak, M.D.
Stuart J. Schnitt, M.D.
Donald A. Antonioli, M.D.