American Society of Hematology

Samuel I. Rapaport, MD (1921-2011)

Donald I. Feinstein, MD, MACP
L. Vijaya Rao, PhD
Bjarne Osterud, PhD

Published on: March 01, 2012

Samuel I. Rapaport, MD, 19th president of the American Society of Hematology, died on December 20, 2011, just after his 90th birthday. In 1958, Dr. Rapaport became the first head of the Division of Hematology at the University of Southern California. He remained in that position until 1974 when he moved to the University of California at San Diego, retiring in 1996. Whether in his role as an investigator, clinician, mentor, or leader, Dr. Rapaport’s goal was excellence.

Dr. Rapaport was born in Los Angeles to Hyman and Bertha Rapaport. In 2006, he authored a book, Hyman Rapaport,His Life and Times, about his father and family. His father was a distinguished local physician, and his mother was a lawyer active in Democratic politics. His father was known in Los Angeles as the “Angel of Temple Street” because of his unselfish dedication to the needs of his patients throughout the Great Depression era. He learned from his parents to champion both civil and women’s rights and to treat his fellow man with kindness and respect.

Dr. Rapaport’s illustrious research career spanned four-and-a-half decades. He made seminal contributions to our basic understanding of blood coagulation, and he developed the activated partial thromboplastin time test that is used worldwide to monitor response to intravenous, unfractionated heparin and to screen for blood coagulation abnormalities. He published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, 25 book chapters, and four books, including the classic, single-authored Introduction to Hematology.

Dr. Rapaport was the subject of a profile that was published in this newsletter in 2008. The article recounted how he became interested in coagulation and highlighted his most important scientific accomplishments. His career is also chronicled on the American Society of Hematology’s website that has archived the oral history of some of the Society’s most prominent members.

In addition to being president of ASH, Dr. Rapaport held leadership positions in other academic and scientific societies. He was a member of the Governing Board of the American Board of Internal Medicine, chairman of the Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, and a member of the Advisory Council of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

His contributions to medicine, hematology, and hemostasis have been recognized with many honors including ASH’s Henry M. Stratton Medal, membership in the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, a merit award from NHLBI, and the Wright-Schulte Lecture and Robert P. Grant Medal from the International Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis. Selection for a named Visiting Professorship reflects the esteem of colleagues, and Dr. Rappaport was so honored more than 20 times.

Sam Rapaport was a thoughtful listener who will be remembered by his academic progeny not only for his penetrating insights but also for his friendship and humanity. He brought out the best in all who had the good fortune to be a part of his life.

For those who wish to make a contribution in his honor, the family suggests a donation to the American Society of Hematology.

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