Einstein/Montefiore Department of Medicine

Mourning the Loss of Dr. Herbert Tanowitz

The Einstein Montefiore community mourn the loss of our esteemed colleague, Dr. Herbert Tanowitz, professor in the departments of Pathology and Medicine (Infectious Diseases), who died unexpectedly on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.

Herbert Tanowitz, M.D.
Herbert Tanowitz, M.D.
A graveside service is planned for Thursday, July 19, at 1:30 p.m. at Mount Carmel Cemetery, 83-45 Cypress Hills Street, Glendale, NY, 11385. Shiva will be held at the home of Meredith Tanowitz and Marc Warm, 40 Spring Lane, Chappaqua, NY 10514, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. that evening.

A devoted, passionate and committed physician-scientist and mentor, Dr. Tanowitz was beloved by the many colleague and friends he made at Montefiore Einstein since his days as a medical student in the graduating class of 1967.

“Herb was a rare and unusual person and spirit,” said Dr. Louis Weiss, professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and pathology, and co-director of the Einstein Global Health Center, who has been a close friend and colleague of Dr. Tanowitz for over 40 years. “His joie de vivre will continue to guide us and provide a model for the role of an engaged scholar.”

A world-class infectious diseases researcher, Dr. Tanowitz was dedicated to science and renowned for his pioneering work in the study of parasites and, in particular, for his work on the pathogenesis of Chagas Disease due to Trypanosoma cruzi infection. His laboratory investigated the pathogenesis of Chagasic heart disease and the consequences of Trypanosoma cruzi infection on the pathophysiology of the host. In recognition of his contributions, he was elected in 2009 to the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. When he visited Brazil to present his induction lecture, Dr. Tanowitz was treated as an academic rock star by the faculty and students, who wanted to meet the famous professor and author of many of the papers that are required reading for understanding this infection, Dr. Weiss recalled.

Beyond his research, Dr. Tanowitz embodied the role of an academic physician and was beloved by his patients, for whom he provided exceptional care, as well as his fellows and students. He served as the director of the Diagnostic Parasitology Laboratory and associate director of the Parasitology Clinic at Jacobi Hospital, where he was following patients with Chagas disease who were diagnosed in the metropolitan area.

When he was not tending to his clinical work, Dr. Tanowitz also was well known to Einstein medical students as a frequent lecturer for the Parasitology, General Pathology, and Microbial Pathogenesis courses. He also served as director and principal investigator of a Fogarty International Training Grant aimed at training students and postdoctoral fellows from Brazil in research methods in infectious diseases and geographic medicine; and as senior associate editor of the American Journal of Pathology; managing editor of Frontier Bioscience; and co-founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neuroparasitology.

Dr. Tanowitz received his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and then attended Einstein. Following graduation from medical school, he returned to the Bronx in 1973, as a fellow in infectious diseases, after completing his residency in internal medicine at the then Einstein-affiliated Lincoln Hospital. But soon after, the US Navy deployed him to Quantico, Virginia, where he served two years in the medical corps at the Naval Hospital. Captain Tanowitz remained a member of the United States Navy Reserve through 2008. In 1975, he returned to Einstein as Assistant Professor of Pathology and of Medicine, and also served as an attending physician at both Jacobi Medical Center and Montefiore Medical Center.

In 2010, he received the Dominick P. Purpura Distinguished Alumnus Award and received the Walter Colli Award during the 27th annual meeting of the Brazilian Society of Protozoology, in 2011.

Despite his struggle with several health issues in recent years, Dr. Tanowitz remained active, productive, and steadfast in his optimism.

“He was as devoted, committed and passionate about his work, our field, and medicine as one could be,” said Dr. Liise-anne Pirofski, chief, division of Infectious Diseases and professor of Medicine. “We will never forget his laugh and his passion and all the ways that he made us better," she added. "He was truly one of a kind."

Dr. Tanowitz is survived by his children Pam, Meredith, and Jill, and their families.

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