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AAP past president, renowned journal editor dies at age 92 :

February 22, 2018

AAP Past President Robert J. Haggerty, M.D., FAAP, who predicted that the pediatrician’s role would shift to treating the “new morbidity” of behavioral, developmental and social functioning problems, died Jan. 23 at age 92.

“Dr. Haggerty’s contribution to the care of children and the field of pediatrics cannot be overstated,” said AAP CEO/Executive Vice President Karen Remley, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., FAAP. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have known him beyond his reputation.”

Dr. Haggerty, of Canandaigua, N.Y., was a renowned educator, researcher and mentor who was dedicated to unifying academics and practice. His concepts reshaped pediatrics to reflect integration of child health services, a stronger focus on partnership with other disciplines and organizations, and an increased family, community and global role.

He launched Pediatrics in Review (PIR) in 1979 as part of the Academy’s Pediatrics Review and Education Program, and it became the world’s preeminent pediatric education journal. The journal’s first editorial office was in Dr. and Mrs. Muriel Haggerty’s New York apartment. Mrs. Haggerty was the journal’s founding editorial assistant. One of her more visible roles was selecting children’s artwork for the journal covers. By the time Dr. Haggerty retired in 2004 after 25 years as editor in chief, the journal had editions in six languages and an international circulation of nearly 80,000.

“He believed that pediatric education should change to meet the needs of children, not the other way around,” said Errol R. Alden, M.D., FAAP, former AAP executive director/CEO.

PIR Editor in Chief Joseph A. Zenel Jr., M.D., FAAP, recalled an email from Dr. Haggerty about a “too-long” article. “You’ve lost the point. You have to be practical,” Dr. Haggerty told him.

“He was always mentoring. He always wanted to make sure PIR was of and for general pediatricians,” Dr. Zenel said.

Wherever he went, Dr. Haggerty supported general pediatrics and the new morbidity, which he wrote about in the 1960s and in the 1975 book Child Health and the Community. He also established programs in family care, inner-city health, and migrant and behavioral and developmental care.

He was a driving force behind the community pediatrics specialty, the behavioral pediatrics field (with Stanford Friedman, M.D., FAAP) and ambulatory pediatrics (with Morris Green, M.D., FAAP).

Dr. Haggerty earned his M.D. from Cornell University Medical School, interned at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., then served as a physician in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. After a residency at Children’s Hospital, Boston, he continued on at the hospital and was on the Harvard Medical School faculty for 10 years before becoming pediatrics chair at University of Rochester School of Medicine and chief of pediatrics at Strong Memorial. He later returned to Harvard to chair the Department of Health Services.

A sought-after leader, Dr. Haggerty was founder and president of the Academic Pediatric Association (formerly the Ambulatory Pediatric Association) and executive director of the International Pediatric Association. He also was senior program consultant and director of the General Pediatric Academic Development Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and president of the William T. Grant Foundation.

As AAP president (1984-’85), he worked to bring members together and build coalitions in the U.S. and internationally. Within the Academy, he united pediatricians with the formation of the Council on Education, Council on Practice and Research and the Council on Government Affairs. He also helped establish the Pediatric Research in Office Settings network that bridges practice and academic pediatrics.

His numerous honors include the Clifford Grulee Award from the Academy, the John Howland Award from American Pediatric Society, the Gustave Lienhard Award from the Institute of Medicine, the Alfred I. DuPont Award for Excellence in Children’s Health Care from the Nemours Foundation and the Martha May Eliot Award from American Public Health Association.

Dr. and Mrs. Haggerty enjoyed hosting gatherings at their home and traveling abroad. The couple tracked their trips with pushpins on a large map, said Lawrence F. Nazarian, M.D., FAAP, PIR editor emeritus.

“He knew the world. For all of the acknowledgement he had, he was a very humble and gentle person,” Dr. Nazarian said.

He was predeceased by Muriel, his wife of 64 years. He is survived by four children, 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Haggerty-Friedman Fund and Professorship of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. For information, visit

Read more about Dr. Haggerty’s life in a 1998 oral history,

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