UCSD Medical School's Harold Simon Honored

Dr. Harold J. Simon, a founding father of the UCSD School of Medicine and world leader in international medicine, has been honored with the recent establishment of an endowed chair in his name.

An anonymous donor gave a large sum of money to see the creation of a new position in the medical school and ensure that the name of that position will honor the lifetime achievements of Simon. The chair is in recognition of Simon’s role in the design of health care systems serving developing nations and his leadership in developing cultural awareness among UCSD medical students.

Simon said he was gracious to have the chair position named in his honor.

“”A lot of people who don’t deserve things like this get it,”” Simon said. “”A lot of people who do deserve it get it. I don’t know if I have done anything extraordinary, but I’m very grateful for the honor.””

The gift and honor are intended to serve two functions. Primarily, the chair is to honor Simon’s work. It will also allow the Medical School to recruit new talent to the UCSD School of Medicine.

“”Simon has been an international leader in Europe and most of the Western world,”” said Robert M. Kaplan, chairman of the Department of Family and Preventative Care. “”He has been an important shaper in the UCSD School of Medicine and it is very nice that someone wants to honor him in this way.””

Kaplan also saw the open position as a chance for the medical school to do something different. Simon has been at the school of medicine since before any students had arrived. He came to UCSD in 1966, after being recruited from Stanford University. He was the medical school’s first dean of admissions, education and student affairs. He established much of the curriculum and criteria for admission.

Simon created a class for the second-year medical students called “”Fundamentals of Medical Spanish.””

This class allows for future doctors to work side-by-side with Spanish speaking doctors. The students learn basic Spanish to converse in the medical world. The class is extremely popular and is the first of its kind in the country.

Simon is currently co-teaching an undergraduate seminar titled “”Elements of International Health.””

Colleague and Associate Professor Richard Kronick said he was elated upon hearing of Simon’s honor.

“”Simon has had a distinguished career,”” Kronick said. “”We are very pleased that we received a contribution in his name. He helped grow the UCSD Medical School into the distinguished institution that it is today.””

Kronick is the chair of the search committee for the endowed chair. He and others have been bringing in a team of experts to educate themselves on the field and to create a suitable job description. Kronick also evoked Simon’s work in the faculty and staff health care package.

“”He has worked to keep the benefits high and the costs low,”” Kronick said.

Simon also expressed excitement at the election of a new chair.

“”I hope to work with the new chair,”” Simon said.

The naming of the endowed chair comes as a change in the status quo.

“”Chairs are often named for the donor who gives the money,”” said Director of Health Sciences Communications Leslie Franz. “”In this case, the honor goes to another individual. It shows the amount of esteem held for the work of Simon.””

Simon has worked on issues such as infectious diseases, physical and psychological trauma experienced by refugees, population growth, malnutrition and health care resources.

Simon has written eight books and over 130 articles in scientific journals. He is a fellow in many international societies, including the American College of Physicians, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Society of Medicine, the American College of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and the American Public Health Association.

Simon was born in Karlsruhe, Germany and came to the United States in 1938. He got his premedical undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley and received his doctorate at Harvard Medical School. He joined the faculty of Stanford University School of Medicine in 1959 before coming to San Diego in 1966.