Obituary: David Solomon, 90, UCLA leader in geriatrics and medicine
July 12, 2013
5 min read
Dr. David H. Solomon, who led a major expansion of the UCLA Department of Medicine, created the campus's geriatrics program to deal effectively with the unique health care needs of the elderly, and was the first board-certified endocrinologist in Los Angeles, died July 9 at his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 90.
Solomon received many awards from various medical societies in recognition of his contributions and was the author of 220 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, four books, 49 book chapters and 32 editorials, letters and popular articles.
"Dr. Solomon is a legendary figure at UCLA and nationally in internal medicine, endocrinology and geriatrics," said Dr. David Reuben, chief of the geriatrics division at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "His legacy will live on."
Solomon was born March 7, 1923, and raised in Brookline, Mass. He graduated from Brown University in 1944 and entered Harvard Medical School that year. By taking courses year-round, he was able to complete medical school in two years, graduating magna cum laude in 1946. After graduation, Solomon married his wife, Ronda Markson. He completed his internship and residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston and fulfilled his two-year military commitment in the U.S. Public Health Service at the Gerontology Research Center in Baltimore, Md.
Solomon was recruited to the new UCLA School of Medicine in 1952. He became the first board-certified endocrinologist in Los Angeles and led the development of the division of endocrinology in the new department of medicine at UCLA. In 1966, he was named chief of medicine at Harbor General Hospital, where he expanded UCLA's training program. He returned to UCLA's main campus in 1971 as executive chair of the department of medicine, holding that position until 1981.
Solomon led a major development and expansion of the department of medicine during his 10-year tenure, and in the mid-1970s, he spearheaded the effort to form one of the first organized, centrally managed clinical practice groups at an academic medical center with the creation of the Department of Medicine Practice Group.
"David Solomon's contributions to UCLA, internal medicine, geriatrics and endocrinology will live on because of the number of lives that he touched and the approach to care that he taught," said Dr. Alan M. Fogelman, executive chair of the UCLA Department of Medicine.
In 1979, Solomon recognized the need for a new medical specialty to deal effectively with the growing number of elderly individuals and their unique medical, social and health needs. The specialty of geriatric medicine was in its infancy and not widely recognized or accepted as a legitimate field of medicine. He spent the year on sabbatical at the RAND Corp. and, along with Dr. John Beck, studied the problem of an insufficient number of trained geriatricians in the United States. The result was the book "Geriatrics in the United States: Manpower Projections and Training Considerations."
Solomon stepped down as chairman of department of medicine in 1981 and began his second career — geriatrics and gerontology. He recruited Dr. Beck to UCLA to lead the Multicampus Programs in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, and together they integrated and coordinated all of the aging activities within UCLA-affiliated hospitals. Under the MPGMG, the individual fellowships in geriatric medicine at UCLA, the Veterans Administration hospitals in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging were integrated, creating the largest U.S. fellowship training program in geriatrics. Solomon served as associate director of the MPGMG from 1981 to 1989.
From 1991 to 1996, he devoted most of his energy and talents to establishing and developing the UCLA Center on Aging, now known as the UCLA Longevity Center, a campus-wide organization dedicated to helping older people live better and longer with improved quality of life through research, community education programs and patient care. He retired as the center's director in 1996. The UCLA Longevity Center continues to be a major force in the community and nationally under its current leadership.
"We continue to expand and develop programs at the UCLA Longevity Center that are inspired by Dr. Solomon's original vision and drive to meet the growing needs of an aging population," said Dr. Gary Small, the center's director and UCLA's Parlow–Solomon Professor on Aging.
Solomon also served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society from 1988 to 1993, was a member of the board of directors of the American Geriatrics Society for eight years, and is a past president of the American Thyroid Association, the Association of Professors of Medicine and the Western Association of Physicians.
He received awards in recognition of his research and educational contributions from the National Council on Aging, the Gerontological Society of America, the American Geriatrics Society, the American College of Physicians, the American Federation for Aging Research, the American Thyroid Association, the Endocrine Society, the Western Society for Clinical Investigation and the UCLA Medical Alumni Association. Solomon was also the initial recipient of the ICON Award from the UCLA Center on Aging.
In addition to his wife, Ronnie, Solomon is survived by daughters Patti (Mrs. Richard Sinaiko) and Nancy Solomon; grandsons Jeffrey and Gregory Sinaiko; daughter-in-law Marcie Sinaiko; and great-granddaughters Shayna, Samantha and Jamie Sinaiko.
As committed as he was to his career in academic medicine, Solomon was equally committed to his family. His dedication to excellence, concern for all members of society and high standards and expectations for integrity were a continual influence at home, as was his unrestrained enthusiasm for UCLA basketball.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks the public to consider making a donation to UCLA Division of Geriatrics and/or the Venice Family Clinic in Solomon's memory. For donations to the UCLA Division of Geriatrics, checks can be made payable to the UCLA Foundation (mailing address: UCLA Health Sciences Development, 10945 Le Conte Ave., Suite 3132, Los Angeles, Calif. 90095-1784) or online at www.geronet.ucla.edu/gero-giving. Please indicate "Tribute to David Solomon, MD" in the check memo line; online, please check the "Tribute" box.
For donations to the Venice Family Clinic, checks can be made payable to Venice Family Clinic, (mailing address: Venice Family Clinic, ATTN: Development, 604 Rose Ave., Venice, Calif. 90291) or online at www.venicefamilyclinic.org.