Allan G. Rosenfield, MD

Allan G. Rosenfield, MD

Allan G. Rosenfield, MD (Oct 12, 2008)

Dr. Allan Rosenfield, Dean Emeritus and DeLamar Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, died on October 12, 2008. Dr. Rosenfield dedicated his career to fighting for the health and well-being of the world’s most vulnerable populations with an unwavering commitment to sexual and reproductive health. Dr. Rosenfield is inter-nationally recognized for his innovative public health work, especially strategies to address maternal mortality and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He led the movement to focus on the pregnant women herself, rather than as a means for ensuring child health; and he was among the first to call for methods of decreasing mother-to-child transmission of HIV that would also provide ongoing treatment for mothers. After graduating from Columbia University College of Physicians and 71 Surgeons, he returned to Boston for an internship and one year of general surgical residency. After two years in the U.S. Air Force, he entered the obstetrics and gynecology residency program at what is now Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The path that led him to be called “doctor to millions” started when he was stationed in South Korea and an interest in underserved populations was sparked. He found work abroad and took teaching assignment in a new medical school in Nigeria, taking his new wife Claire. Dr. Rosenfield worked in Nigeria as an obstetrician and, later, as Population Council Representative in Thailand, where he helped revolutionize the delivery of family planning services. He joined Columbia University in 1975 as the founding director of the Center for Population and Family Health and director for ambulatory care for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He served as acting chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for two years. Dr. Rosenfield became Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health in 1986. He was the longest serving dean of any school of public health in the nation. Public health started as a program in the medical school, but Dean Rosenfield contributed in significant ways to the program becoming a full-fledged Faculty of Public Health. In 1999, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave the Mailman School $50 million to create the Averting Maternal Death and Disability Program, to support motherhood initiatives in more than 50 countries. He received numerous honors and awards, including from the Government of Thailand, the international Federation of Ob/Gyn, APHA’s Martha May Elliott and Charles Shultz Awards, NY Academy of Medicine Steve Smith Award, PPF of America Margaret Sanger Award, Doctors of the World Health and Human Rights Leadership Award, and many others. Dr. Rosenfield was an extraordinary physician and friend. He will forever occupy a singular place in the lives he touched and those fortunate enough to have known him cherish the memories.

Submitted by Dr. Mary E. D'Alton

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