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April 11-13, 2019
Internal Medicine Meeting 2019
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The Chapter Centennial Legacy Award celebrates ACP's centennial
by recognizing one seminal chapter member whose service to the
chapter had a significant impact on the chapter's viability. This
individual should exemplify ACP's core values including:
The California Northern Chapter nominates Dr. Ralph O.
Wallerstein, M.D. and Dwight L. Wilbur,
MD as the Centennial Award recipients.
Ralph O. Wallerstein was a truly remarkable physician, who
throughout his career maintained a busy private practice as a
hematologist and internist, was a renowned teacher, and also
possessed extraordinary leadership skills that led him to become
successively President of the American Society of Hematology,
Chairman of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and President
of the American College of Physicians. He also served on the
Residency Review Committee for Internal Medicine.
Under an accelerated program in place during World War II, Ralph
graduated from UC Berkeley in 1943, and from U.C. San Francisco
School of Medicine in 1945. He interned at the San Francisco
General Hospital and then spent two years in the United States Army
Medical Corps, stationed in Japan. After completing his military
service obligations, he moved to Boston, where he was a resident on
the Harvard service for a few months, and then became a fellow in
the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory under Doctor William B. Castle.
The Thorndike was then one of the best sites for training young
physicians, and Ralph's experience there certainly influenced the
rest of his career.
After two years in Boston, he returned to San Francisco, where
he joined his father in clinical practice. He specialized in
Internal Medicine and Hematology. He was Chief of Hematology at the
San Francisco General Hospital for nearly 30 years, and
hematologist to the Children's Hospital, where he became Chief of
Staff from 1968-72. For many years he was a consultant in
Hematology to the Letterman Army Hospital and the Veteran's
In addition to his private practice, Ralph joined the faculty of
the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. He
was an excellent teacher, and had a particular interest in
morphology. He was appointed Clinical Professor in Medicine and
Laboratory Medicine in 1969. In those days, in addition to his
practice and teaching, he was involved in clinical research. He
carried out one of the early studies implicating the antibiotic,
chloramphenicol, as a cause of aplastic anemia, and was one of the
first to detect abnormal red cell precursors - vacuolated
erythroblasts - in the bone marrow of patients with
chloramphenicol-induced aplastic anemia.
The growth of specialization in internal medicine that occurred
in the years after World War II led to interest in establishing new
specialties, with important ancillary features, such as specialty
societies and board certification. Hematology was one of these
"new" specialties, and in 1958, the American Society of Hematology
was founded. Ralph joined shortly after, and was an active,
enthusiastic member. His participation was such that he was elected
President for 1978-1979.
Further, in the 1970's the American Board of Internal Medicine
began to prepare for certification of physicians with special
competence in Hematology, and Ralph was asked to participate in
this developing program. He was appointed to the Board in 1971, and
served as Chairman of the Subspecialty Committee on Hematology that
was responsible for preparing the certifying examinations. He
continued to serve on the Board and was elected Chairman for 1982
Ralph also became active in the American College of Physicians
in the 1970's, serving first as Governor of his district from 1977
to 1981, then as a member of the Board of Regents, and finally as
President from 1988 to 1989.
In addition to the above, Ralph has been recognized with many
honors, including election to the Institute of Medicine, and Master
of the American College of Physicians. Upon retirement he was
appointed Emeritus Professor at the University of California San
Francisco. He served as Hematology consultant to Letterman Army
Hospital and the VA Hospitals receiving the Outstanding Civilian
Service Medal from the Dept. of the Army in 1981. He was chosen
Physician of the Year, Children's Hospital in 1989. He was named
Alumnus of the Year at UCSF, and recipient of the Charlotte Baer
Award for Outstanding Teaching. His general knowledge extended well
beyond Medicine and Hematology. Of particular use to the Committee
was his encyclopedic knowledge of food and wine. We developed
discriminating examinations, and we dined well.
In the 1980's he served on the Residency Review Commit-tee for
Internal Medicine, that had responsibility for reviewing all
residencies in General Internal Medicine and fellowships in the
medical subspecialties. This was an important and busy committee,
and Ralph's medical knowledge, and, in addition, his organizational
skills and commitment to quality were impressive.
Dr. Wallerstein was also on the board of directors of the Fromm
Institute for Lifelong Learning, was devoted to the arts, and was a
talented photographer. Images taken during his travels after
retirement were shown at local galleries and published in medical
Dr. Dwight Locke Wilbur, a prominent San Francisco
gastroenterologist was past president of the American Medical
Association, the American College of Physicians and the American
Gastroenterological Association. who helped overcome the
organization's aversion to Medicare as ''socialized medicine,''
In the 1960's, when Dr. Wilbur rose to leadership in the A.M.A.,
his profession, like the rest of the nation, was deeply divided
over crucial issues. Medical insurance for the country's elderly
was one of them, and he was considered a moderate in the A.M.A.'s
determined struggle against Government encroachment in medical
care. Medicare, the basic Federal health insurance program for
everyone over 65, was enacted in Social Security amendments in 1965
in the Johnson Administration. The A.M.A., supported by private
insurers and hospitals, pursued its own alternative, called
Eldercare, as a comprehensive plan for the elderly needy. Upon his
inauguration as president of the A.M.A. in June 1968 for a one-year
term, Dr. Wilbur broke with his predecessor, Dr. Milford O. Rouse
of Dallas, and endorsed the notion that adequate health care was a
right of all citizens. Although he personally favored the private
approach wherever possible, he had resigned himself to the Social
Security-based program as a new fact of life, and the organization
reluctantly went along.
Like his father, he was an outdoorsman and rugged individualist.
He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford in 1923 and received his
M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1926 and was elected to
AOA. He completed his internal medicine training at Penn and GI at
the Mayo Clinic and stayed on at the Mayo Clinic to teach for
several years. During World War II, he served as chief of medicine
at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Oakland.
A specialist in gastroenterology, Wilbur wrote more than 200
medical articles and edited the Journal of the California Medical
Association for more than 20 years. He served as a member of the
medical task force of the Hoover Commission and on President
Johnson's National Advisory Committee on Health Manpower that
predicted the number of physicians would be adequate but there
would be major problems with specialty and geographic distribution.
He served as president of the California Medical Association,
American Medical Association, American Gastroenterological
Association from 1954-55 and president of the American College of
Physicians in 1959. He held teaching positions at the Stanford
School of Medicine throughout his career of more than 50 years,
rising to clinical professor in 1949, and retired from private
practice in 1983. He founded both the San Francisco and the
California Societies of Internal Medicine.
He held office in various other professional organizations and
served in clinical and teaching assignments in and beyond