W. Eichna, M.D., 94, Medical Educator and Innovator
Herman Rosen, M.D.
Ludwig W. Eichna, former Professor and Chairman of the Department
of Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, was
memorialized at a recent ceremony at Downstate Medical Center.
In a program chaired by Alan Josephson, M.D., various prominent
physicians from NYU School of Medicine and Downstate recounted
episodes from Dr. Eichna’s career. Dr. Eichna was on the faculty
of NYU Medical School for twenty years until 1960, when he came
to Downstate as Professor and Chairman of Medicine. Saul Farber,
M.D., former Dean and Chairman of Medicine at NYU reviewed Eichna’s
contributions in the field of cardiovascular disease and physiology.
He spoke of Eichna’s tireless efforts on the wards of Bellevue
Hospital. Dr. Arthur Fox, NYU Professor and cardiologist mentioned
Eichna’s pioneering work in cardiac catheterization and heart
failure. When Dr. Eichna came to Downstate he recruited Drs. Hugh
Carroll and Paul Dreizen to come with him to Downstate. They went
on to develop academic prominence at Downstate. Each spoke, pointing
out Dr. Eichna’s pivotal role in their academic career. Also on
the program were Drs. Eli Friedman and Raymond Damadian. Dr. Eichna
rose to the highest ranks in academic medicine, serving as President
of the Association of Professors of Medicine 1969-70. He was elected
President of the Association of American Physicians in 1971; his
presidential address “Verities in Chaos” is still quoted and is
on the web. When Dr. Eichna retired as Chairman of Medicine in
1974, he went on to another unique career. He entered Downstate
as a medical student, completed the course of study and was awarded
a second M.D. degree in 1979. Although he participated in classes
and clerkships as a medical student, his former students and colleagues
who were now his “teachers” could not help feeling intimidated.
Eichna published his perspectives as a medical student in the
New England Journal of Medicine in 1980. This extraordinary
teacher, dedicated physician and researcher had a major impact
on American medicine and will always be remembered.#
Herman Rosen is Clinical Professor of Medicine at Weill Medical
College of Cornell University.
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