Arthur Rubenstein was born in December 1937 in Germiston. He was educated at King Edward VII School in Johannesburg from where he was accepted at Wits Medical School with several other matriculants from his school.
Arthur was one of the eight students out of 115 who obtained four first class passes in his first-year subjects and was recognised as extremely bright by his peers and teachers. As a Student he served as vice president of the Student Medical Council, was on the clinics committee. He graduated MB BCh in 1960. (Seen above on the steps of the Great Hall at graduation with his parents)
In this picture of the medical school clinics committee we see: Back row: Mervyn Damelin, B Noll, Ivan Samson, F Widreich, Arthur Rubenstein. Front row: Gerald Lampert, Avroy Fanaroff (Vice Chair) Denise Hack (Chair, whom Arthur later married) and D Levitt
Arthur served his internships at the Johannesburg General Hospital in 1961 with a rotation in Medicine (with Professor Guy Elliott) and in Surgery (with Professor DJ du Plessis). (His reminiscences of his teachers will feature in another Newsletter and section of the website).
Research scholar and fellow
From 1962 to 1963, he was a Senior Research Bursar of the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research under the direction of Professor H Steyn. Between 1963 and 1967 he was Tutorial Registrar in Medicine to the Professorial Unit, Johannesburg General Hospital and part-time Lecturer in Physiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of South Africa. During this time, he carried out research on diabetic patients and their blood sugar control, as well as abnormalities in their lipid metabolism.
From 1965 to 1966, he located to the United Kingdom on a Smith and Nephew Scholarship. He joined the endocrine group led by Russell Fraser, Professor of Clinical Endocrinology in the Department of Medicine, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London.
In 1967 he went to the USA as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Fellow in the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago.
Professor and Dean
He was a faculty member in the University of Chicago until 1997, achieving the rank of Professor (Lowell T Coggeshall Distinguished Service Professor of Medical Sciences) and serving as Chairman of the Department of Medicine (1981 to 1997).
Arthur then served for four years as Dean of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and as the Gustave L Levy Distinguished Professor from 1997 to 2001. There he became known for recruiting and retaining outstanding staff, developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic planning process and for significant increases in federally funded research.
In 2001, Arthur was appointed the Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System (UPHS) and Dean of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine (2001 to 2011). Together, these entities make up Penn Medicine, dedicated to medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care.
Arthur, next to his wife Denise (née Hack) with son Jeffrey and the President of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr Amy Gutmann.
As the first medical school to be founded in the USA, in 1765, Penn School of Medicine is consistently ranked among the top five medical schools in the USA. It has one of the top academic health systems, which consists of several hospitals, a hospice, home care, and numerous multispecialty satellite facilities.
However, at the time of his appointment in 2001, the Health System was in dire financial straits; faculty and staff morale was at an all-time low and the possibility of selling the Health System to a for-profit entity was seriously being considered. Arthur was presented with the challenging task of dealing with a $300-$500M deficit. He subsequently led a team that improved the finances and stabilized the enterprise.
Over the next decade, Penn Medicine thrived and now has become one of the leading integrated academic health centers in the USA (and arguably the world). New facilities were built (for patient care, research and education), outstanding members of faculty staff were recruited and excellent students chose to come to Penn to participate in its many programmes (including MD, Masters and PhD degrees and in various subjects such as Translational Medicine, Bioethics, Public Health and others).
Arthur, wife Denise and son Jeffrey at the unveiling of his portrait when he retired as Executive Vice President (EVP) and Dean in 2011
When Rubenstein stepped down as Dean and EVP, he continued as Professor of Medicine, in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Academic Advisory Council
Arthur Rubenstein later joined Dr Phil Pizzo (former Dean at Stanford Medical School), and Dr Thomas Lawley (former Dean at Emory Medical School) to form the Academic Advisory Council (AAC) that has an affiliation with Merritt Hawkins, a physician recruitment firm, and has been engaged in three activities. One of these includes institutional reviews and planning that helps to address either challenges or issues being faced by medical schools or academic health centres or which addresses everything from organisational and governance issues to strategic and long-range planning.
In this role the AAC has usually been engaged by a university president or senior leader and the resulting review includes a deep environmental scan based on document reviews as well as interview/meetings with wide range of stakeholders and constituencies. This leads to a report which provides assessment and recommendations. The AAC has also, on occasion, taken on the role of serving as an executive coaching team to the institutional leader. Further, the AAC also works on searches for high-level institutional leaders.
Awards and Prizes
Arthur is the recipient of many awards and prizes. Among his honours are the David Rumbough Scientific Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (1977); the Banting Medal from the American Diabetes Association (1983); and the John Phillips Memorial Award from the American College of Physicians (1995).
Denise and Arthur (above) at the investiture of a named professorship in his honor to Professor Celeste Simon
In 2001, Arthur was honored by Wits, his alma mater, when the degree of Doctor of Science in Medicine (Honoris causa) was conferred on him. He is a Fellow of the College of Medicine of South Africa and of the Royal College of Physicians of London and Master of the American College of Physicians.
Publications and leadership positions
Arthur has authored more than 350 publications and has held editorial advisory positions with numerous respected journals, including service on the editorial boards of the Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications, and Medicine.
He has served in numerous professional leadership positions. These include President of the Association of Professors of Medicine; President of the Association of American Physicians; President of the Central Society for Clinical Research; Chairman of the American Board of Internal Medicine; Chairman of the Board of the Association of Academic Health Centers; and Chair of the National Diabetes Advisory Board. He has been a member of a study section, and of the Advisory Council, of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. He has been a member of the National Academy of Medicine since 1985 and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Arthur writes: I thought I would add a short update about my beautiful family:
I married Dr Denise Hack from Pretoria. We have two sons and their families: Jeffrey and Mishaela – children: Ayelet, Maya, Adam and Noah. Errol and Sarah – Children: 3-year-old twins, Jacob and Nathan.
Jeffrey is a Professor of Talmud – Jewish Studies at New York University; Mishaela is an Endocrinologist at Columbia University. Ayelet is a junior at Penn, and Maya has just been admitted to Princeton. The boys are sports fanatics and are attending Jewish Day Schools. They live a mile or so from us in Englewood, New Jersey.
Errol is a teacher at a school for disadvantaged children and Sarah taught in the head start program. They live in Minneapolis.
Jeffrey and his family together with Denise, myself and Errol (above)
Errol and Sarah and their twin boys, Jacob and Nathan.
This biography sent August 2020 by Arthur H. Rubenstein, MB BCh
Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-5160