Obituary: Dr. Marcel Krauthammer, UCLA/VA Pulmonologist, Critical Care Specialist and Gifted Teacher

Dr. Marcel Krauthammer

Dr. Marcel Krauthammer (Northridge), a pulmonologist and adjunct professor of medicine for 23 years at UCLA and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System has died from brain cancer. He was 59.

Serving as director of the medical intensive care unit at the VA Medical Center at Sepulveda for 17 years, Krauthammer treated the most critically ill patients suffering from conditions such as AIDS, renal failure, heart attack and acute respiratory failure.

A gifted teacher, Krauthammer received many awards for his commitment to excellence in teaching, patient care and academics. He was awarded the Golden Apple Award three times from the UCLA-San Fernando Valley Medical Program house staff, an annual honor given to the most outstanding teacher from the training program. He also received several faculty awards including Teacher of the Year in 1996 and the Clinical Faculty Teaching Award in 1980.

"Marcel's dedication to lifelong learning made him an excellent teacher and role model for students, faculty and staff. His enthusiasm and energy were awe-inspiring," said Dr. Michael S. Golub, senate emeritus professor and former chair, UCLA-San Fernando Valley Medical Program and former chief of medicine at the Sepulveda VA.

Krauthammer truly enjoyed his students and specialized in reading X-rays of the chest and lungs. He would present "mystery" X-rays and students in class as well as colleagues at regional conferences, would try and identify the condition or disease. His extensive chest X-ray collection recently was donated to the UCLA Department of Radiology and continues to be used for teaching purposes.

"Marcel was relentless in his pursuit of knowledge and in tracking down solutions to medical problems. He passed this motivation on to everyone he taught," said Dr. Irwin Ziment, senate emeritus professor and former chief of medicine at Valleycare Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, who knew Krauthammer for 25 years.

Krauthammer's life also reflected a commitment to his patients. During his years in the medical intensive care unit, he also studied medical ethics in order to better guide patients and their families through critical end-of-life decisions. He also served several years as an expert on the VA's Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.

Active in professional organizations, Krauthammer served as president of the Trudeau Society of Greater Los Angeles, which is associated with the American Lung Association and composed of academic and private pulmonologists. He received the David Salkin Award presented to a member who best embodies the principles, goals and spirit of this group.

Krauthammer was a member of the American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society and the Society of Critical Care Medicine. He also chaired pulmonary care symposiums and research conferences in Southern California.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he completed his undergraduate work in Canada and received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York in 1971.  He started his medical career at UCLA and the VA as a staff physician in 1977 and retired in 2000. He died Jan 17.

Diagnosed in 1988 with a rare esthesioneuroblastoma, Krauthammer continued to teach and work despite numerous treatments and two-dozen surgeries. Throughout his struggle, he maintained his interest and enthusiasm for medicine, sports and religion. His dedication and courage will be remembered by his family, friends, colleagues and patients.

"One of the most determined people I've ever known, Marcel played to win. The only battle he lost was with cancer. He will be sorely missed," Ziment said.

Krauthammer is survived by his devoted wife, Joy Krauthammer; his daughter and son‑in-law, Aviva and Brett Freedman; his mother, Thea Krauthammer; and his brother, Dr. Charles Krauthammer.

 

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