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In Memoriam: AAP past president, hematology/oncology pioneer, Dr. Pearson :

November 30, 2016

AAP past president, hematology/oncology pioneer, Dr. Pearson

Howard A. Pearson, M.D., FAAP, AAP past president (1992-’93) who for 14 years was medical director at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for children with cancer and serious blood diseases, died Oct. 16 at age 86.

Dr. Pearson, of New Haven, Conn., helped establish the AAP Pediatric History Center at the Drs. Harry and Ruth Bakwin Library at AAP headquarters. The first chair of the AAP Historical Archives Committee, he helped launch the archives and oral history program to preserve life stories of “eminent pediatricians.” His own oral history was taken by his grandson and is available by emailing the library at To date, Dr. Pearson and other pediatric historians have recorded oral histories of about 100 AAP members.

He also contributed reflections on the Academy’s history as co-editor of the anniversary book Dedicated to the Health of All Children: 75 Years of Caring, 1930-2005, receiving an award from the American Medical Writers Association for his efforts.

While serving as president, Dr. Pearson fast-tracked the groundbreaking policy statement on sudden infant death syndrome that urged placing infants to sleep on their backs. As a member of the Committee on Nutrition, he wrote the AAP policy calling for formula to be fortified with iron to prevent iron deficiency anemia. The policy spurred the requirement that formulas covered by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children be iron-fortified.

Dr. Pearson earned his medical degree from Dartmouth-Harvard in 1954 and entered the Navy, where he completed his pediatric residency at the Bethesda Naval Hospital under Thomas E. Cone Jr., M.D., FAAP. After completing a pediatric hematology fellowship in Boston, he returned to Bethesda for four years as assistant chief to Dr. Cone and was recruited as the first pediatric hematologist/oncologist at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville in 1962. There, he studied sickle cell and similar diseases.

After relocating to Connecticut, he became the first full-time pediatric hematologist/oncologist in the state. He also set up the first division of pediatric hematology/oncology at Yale. There, he made the discovery of functional asplenia of young children with sickle cell anemia and identified Pearson marrow-pancreas syndrome, a mitochondrial rare disease affecting the bone marrow and pancreas that usually begins in infancy.

In 1986, he was approached by a friend of Paul Newman to help establish a camp for children with cancer and blood disorders in Connecticut. For 14 summers, Dr. Pearson served as the full-time camp doctor and medical director. The camp by “Lake Pearson” continues many traditions he helped start, including storytelling with totem poles. Later, he authored a book about The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Proceeds from book sales are donated to the camp (

In 2002, Dr. Pearson received the John Howland Award, the highest honor from the American Pediatric Society, for distinguished service to pediatrics as a whole.

“I can’t remember many days when I have gone to work reluctantly,” Dr. Pearson said in his oral history. “I think that’s a pretty good epitaph.”

He is survived by his wife, Anne, five children, including Stephen Pearson, M.D., FAAP, of Yakima, Wash., 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.


Pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Grumbach

Melvin M. Grumbach, M.D., FAAP, of San Francisco, died of a heart attack Oct. 4 at age 90. Recipient of the AAP Lifetime Achievement Award in Education, he also was awarded the John Howland Medal from the American Pediatric Society (APS) and served as president of the APS and Endocrine Society.

As a renowned pediatric endocrinologist, he pushed the discussion of social aspects of research interests. His work encouraged better understanding of gender assignment for children born with ambiguous genitalia. Dr. Grumbach also studied physiologic action of growth hormone, leading to synthetic growth hormone for short stature, discouraging its medicalization as a disease.

On faculty at University of California San Francisco for 50 years, Dr. Grumbach chaired the Department of Pediatrics from 1966-’86 and established its pediatric endocrinology program.

After earning his medical degree and completing residency at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, he was a captain in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps. He completed fellowship training under Lawson Wilkins, M.D., FAAP, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

He is survived by three sons and five grandchildren.

Additional recent deaths:

Margaret A. Baumgardt, M.D., FAAP, of Manitowoc, Wis., died Oct. 16 after a long illness at age 59.

Marie S. Blackman, M.D., FAAP, of Pompano Beach, Fla., died July 31 at age 87.

T. Donald Eisenstein, M.D., FAAP, of Fairfield, N.J., died Oct. 9 at age 86.

Anthony C. Gholz, M.D., FAAP, of Fort Gratiot, Mich., died July 12 at age 95.

Houshang Khorram, M.D., FAAP, of Middlesboro, Ky., died Oct. 18 at age 83.

Valarian A. Madappuli, M.D., FAAP, of Waterloo, Ontario, died Aug. 21 at age 88.

Percy G. Sullivan, M.D., FAAP, of Bessemer, Ala., died Oct. 18 at age 89.

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