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Dr. Louis Weinstein, a Harvard Medical School (HMS) professor who devoted his lifetime to the modern medical field of infectious diseases, died last Thursday at a nursing home in Newton, Massachusetts.
He was 92.
"He was a pioneer in the first generation of infectious disease specialists," said John T. Harrington, dean of Tufts Medical School and a former colleague of the Weinstein's. "He's a very great man with an extraordinarily prolific career."
Weinstein was the founder of the infectious disease service at New England Medical Center, where he was led the operation while also teaching at the Tufts Medical school.
Weinstein was a visiting professor at HMS from his retirement from the infectious disease service in 1975 until 1993.
At a time when there were few antibiotics and vaccines, Weinstein established the study of infectious diseases as a significant field through his research and teaching.
Weinstein was influential in promoting the initial use of penicillin and encouraging doctors to prescribe antibiotics.
He received a lifetime achievement award from the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1996.
Even after formal retirement at age 65, he became a senior physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and then worked at HMS.
"His hobby was his work," said Ethel Raport Weinstein, his wife of 65 years.
She remembers when her husband rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night to operate on a homeless person.
"He was a compassionate and caring man," she said. "He didn't care about how much money patients had."
In addition to being compassionate and caring, Harrington said, Weinstein was "absolutely brilliant." Weinstein would ask the best questions during meetings, teach a class with no notes, and make the most accurate diagnoses of patients, Harrington said.
In one memorable case, Weinstein predicted that a critically ill patient with both liver and kidney failure would get better within a month, Harrington remembered. To the amazement of Dr. Harrington and other doctors, this diagnosis proved to be correct.
Weinstein was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on February 26, 1908. He paid his way through school playing the jazz violin.
After receiving his masters and doctorate in microbiology at Yale University, Weinstein earned a medical degree from Boston University.
He has written more than 400 articles in professional journals.
In honor of his accomplishments, the Infectious Diseases Society of America created "The Louis Weinstein Award" in 1992 for the best clinical article published in its magazine.
"In spite of all the prizes and awards, he was a very humble person," Mrs. Weinstein said.
In addition to his wife, the doctor is survived by a son, Allen J. Weinstein, a lawyer; his daughter, Carol Boileau, a lawyer; and three grandchildren.
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