Jerold M. Lowenstein, M.D.
[Originally published in the Foundation’s newsletter Physician Advisor, February 2009]
Physicians as Legacy Supporters
- Graduate, MIT and Columbia University Medical School
- Retired (2001) chair, CPMC Department of Nuclear Medicine; UCSF clinical professor of medicine
- Recipient of the Fellows’ Medal, the highest honor of the California Academy of Sciences; both Dr. Lowenstein and his wife, Adrienne L. Zihlman, professor of anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, are fellows at the Academy
- Legacy Society member since 2008, with a bequest to CPMC in his living trust
Favorite achievement: I created a new field of anthropology: molecular evolution. My wife is an anthropologist, and I traveled with her to many conferences where I heard conflicting arguments regarding which fossils were related to humans. It occurred to me that if I studied the proteins in fossils, I would be able to determine whether they were more like humans or apes In my lab, I discovered I could detect tiny amounts of protein molecules in fossils. I’ve continued showing how fossils are related to living creatures, studying just about every kind of animal you can imagine.
Fondest memory as a physician scientist: The truth is, I’ve had a wonderful life, a life of adventure. In 1981, I was invited to speak at the Royal Society of London. I explained my discovery of the potential to identify species in small skeletal fragments: protein radioimmunoassay. Then, I was the only one looking for molecules in fossils. Ten years later I was invited back, and everyone was doing it.
Leisure activities: I live in San Francisco and love to walk and explore the city. I’ve also had quite a career of writing. For years I wrote a regular column for Pacific Discovery, now called California Wild, the natural history magazine of the California Academy of Sciences. For most of my life I wanted to write a novel and have recently finished my first and started work on my second.
Staying in touch: I’m semiretired …still teach a science course for The Fromm Institute at USF. Also, I feel quite a connection with CPMC and am still actively involved. Recently I attended a presentation for retired physicians and enjoyed hearing Dr. Martin Brotman.
Reason for supporting CPMC: About a year ago, I became extremely ill for the first time in my life. After years of treating patients at CPMC, I was a patient. I had a rare opportunity to see the medical center from a different perspective. I couldn’t have asked for better care; every member of the staff was warm and empathetic. I feel fortunate to have been a doctor at CPMC and very fortunate to have been a patient there. After my recovery, I wanted to support the mission of the hospital so that others can enjoy excellent care.