American Society of Hematology

Ernst R. Jaffé, MD (1925-2008)

Helen Ranney, MD

Published on: May 01, 2008

With the death of Dr. Ernst Jaffé on February 16, 2008, the American Society of Hematology (ASH) lost a visionary founder and a gifted leader of hematology. Present at their creation, he provided wise and devoted leadership to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, ASH, and Blood.

In 1974, Dr. Jaffé succeeded Dr. William Dameshek as Editor-in-Chief of Blood. Two years later, this premier hematology publication became the official journal of ASH. Concluding his service as editor in 1978, Dr. Jaffé became a leader of the ASH educational program for many years, and in 1983 was elected president of ASH. Subsequently, he developed support for post-doctoral research training and research grants from the Henry and Lillian Stratton Foundation. In 2003, ASH called on Dr. Jaffé to serve as the first Chair of Development Task Force, where he worked to secure funding for the Clinical Research Training Institute.

Dr. Jaffé was born and grew up in Chicago. He was the son of two physicians; both immigrated from Vienna. His father, Richard Jaffé, was already a famous pathologist who became the head of pathology at Cook County Hospital. Dr. Jaffé went to college and medical school at the University of Chicago. He completed his internship and residency in medicine at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. In 1954, he began his fellowship in hematology at Columbia with Irving London.

A year later, Dr. Jaffé went to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine from Columbia as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. London, who was the founding Chair of Medicine at this newly established medical school. He was Head of the Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, from 1970 until 1982 when he became Acting Dean. Dr. Jaffé remained on the faculty at Einstein in a series of academic advancements until his retirement as Senior Associate Dean and Distinguished University Professor of Medicine in 1991.

Dr. Jaffé's research focused on red cell enzymes. In a series of landmark studies of methemoglobinemia, congenital and acquired (toxic), he defined the clinical manifestations and management of this disorder. He collaborated in studies of the first family to be described with phosphoglyceratekinase-associated hemolysis. Other studies focused on G-6-PD deficiency and cryptogenic hemolysis associated with abnormal membrane lipids. Having served several years as co-editor of Seminars in Hematology, Dr. Jaffé had broad interests in all aspects of blood and its disorders.

Dr. Jaffé also served on many committees of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and on the Blood Services Committee of the American Red Cross. He was chairman of the Association of American Medical Colleges (1989-90) and president of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine (1993-95). Dr. Jaffé was a member of the International Society of Hematology, the American Federation for Medical Research (then the American Federation for Clinical Research), the American Physiological Society, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians.

Dr. Jaffé is survived by his wife of 57 years, Jane Sylvestre, two children, Dr. Stephanie Jaffé Green and Richard Jaffé, and four grandchildren. For those who wish to donate, a scholarship fund has been established at Albert Einstein. Donations may be made to:

The Ernst R. Jaffé Scholarship Fund
Office of Institutional Advancement
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
1300 Morris Park Ave.
Bronx, NY 10461

In addition, members have expressed an interest in making a gift to ASH in Dr. Jaffé's memory. Donations can be made to the Stratton-Jaffé Endowment for the support of ASH scholars. To make a gift, please visit the Make a Gift section of the ASH website.

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