Obituary - David Solomon

August 8, 2013

“A legendary figure at UCLA” who proved a pioneer in geriatric medicine has died.

David Solomon was born on 7 March 1923 and brought up in Brookline, Massachusetts. After graduating from Brown University in 1944, he went on to Harvard Medical School, where he opted to take courses all year round and so completed his studies in two years. An internship and residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston was followed by two years’ national service at the Gerontology Research Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Although gerontology was to be the central focus of his career, Dr Solomon initially worked in other fields when he joined the new School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1952. He would remain at UCLA until retirement.

The first board-certified endocrinologist in Los Angeles, Dr Solomon developed the Division of Endocrinology at UCLA and was then appointed chief of medicine at Harbor General Hospital in 1966. He later returned to the main campus from 1971 to 1981 as executive chair of the department of medicine, where he set up one of the first centrally managed clinical practice groups at an academic medical centre.

It was during his 10-year tenure there that Dr Solomon began to reflect deeply on the need to establish geriatric medicine as a serious specialism able to address the particular challenges of an ageing population. A sabbatical at the RAND Corporation led to his contributing to a major book, Geriatrics in the United States: Manpower Projections and Training Considerations, in 1980. In the following year, he embarked on what amounted to a second career, bringing together all the programmes on ageing in UCLA-affiliated hospitals to form the Multicampus Programs in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology.

After serving as associate director of the MPGMG from 1981 to 1989, Dr Solomon devoted the period from 1991 to 1996 to building up what is now known as the UCLA Longevity Center. He was editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (1988-93) and part of the five-author team responsible for A Consumer’s Guide to Aging (1992), aimed at the “innovators, pioneers, trailblazers, trendsetters, and even trendbusters” among older Americans.

“Dr Solomon is a legendary figure at UCLA and nationally in internal medicine, endocrinology and geriatrics,” said David Reuben, chief of geriatrics at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

Dr Solomon died on 9 July and is survived by his wife Ronnie, two daughters, two grandsons and three great-granddaughters.

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