In Memoriam: Leon Morgenstern, MD

Leon Morgenstern, MD (1919-2012)

Dr. Morgenstern joined the Medical Staff at Cedars of Lebanon in 1953, eventually rising to become the Chair of the Department of Surgery in 1960. During the next 28 years, he presided over the Department of Surgery during a time of sweeping change, not only as Cedars of Lebanon and Mt. Sinai merged to form the new Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but also as the Medical Center became recognized as a surgical leader – locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. He personally conducted generative research on splenic surgery that revolutionized his field.

An accomplished medical historian and humanist, after retiring from the practice of surgery in 1990, Dr. Morgenstern spent the next 15 years first establishing and then directing Cedars-Sinai’s Center for Healthcare Ethics. During his tenure, he established the Ethics Noon Conference lecture series, Cedars-Sinai’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, and guided the creation of the original mural, Jewish Contributions to Medicine: A work of art and history, located in Cedars-Sinai’s Harvey Morse Auditorium.

Upon stepping down as the Center’s Director in 2005, Dr. Morgenstern became the Center’s Senior Advisor. He continued to participate in Center activities – including active review of ethics consultations, teaching, and publishing about the history and ethics of medicine and surgery – until the time of his death in December 2012.