Founded in 1997 by African-American and Latino house officers, the Lindenbaum-Thomson Society (LTS) was named in honor of Drs. John Lindenbaum and Gerald Thomson for their efforts in promoting academic excellence and diversity in medicine. In the original mission statement, the founding residents expressed their commitment to ensure the recruitment, retention and development of minority house staff and to provide a supportive academic and social environment in which to help minority residents realize their full potential. Though a resident driven organization, the members looked for support within the residency program, and from faculty, CUMC alumni, as well as from organizations and groups outside of the residency.
Prior to 1997, there were less formal efforts to organize amongst minority house staff. Hhowever, in the spring of that year Dr. John Lindenbaum, Professor and past Chairman of medicine passed away and inspired the formalization of the organization. Dr. Lindenbaum was a truly beloved clinician, teacher and mentor. As a clinical investigator, he earned renown for vitamin B-12 and folate metabolism studies, and his research benefited patients with sickle cell anemia, vitamin B-12 deficiency, and heart disease. Dr. Lindenbaum was also committed to producing highly trained, well-respected and compassionate minority physicians. Prior to his death, he established a fund to bring minority leaders in the field of medicine to CUMC.
Gerald E. Thomson, M.D.
Lambert Professor Emeritus of Medicine
We should recognize the importance and significance of John Lindenbaum. Many of us remember him as the vice chairman of our department. He was a house officer and a fellow here in the 1960s, followed by three years of public health service in Bangladesh, and then his return to the Columbia faculty for good - first as the head of Hematology on the Columbia Service at Bellevue and then, when that service moved to Harlem, as head of Hematology and Oncology at Harlem Hospital. He was also the Associate Director of that medical service for many years. At the same time he had an investigative laboratory at Columbia, engaged heavily in the academic activities of the department and later became acting chairman and vice chairman at Columbia.
Dr. Thomson's name was also selected for the
organization for his longstanding commitment to
the recruitment of minority physicians and for his
contributions to minority health. Dr. Thomson was
recruited to Columbia in 1970 to head the new renal
division at Harlem Hospital. He was Director of
Medicine at Harlem Hospital from 1971 to 1985.
He then returned to Presbyterian Hospital to become
Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President for
Professional Affairs in 1985. In 1990, he was Associate
Dean. Dr. Thomson has served and led numerous local
and national organizations. He is co-founder and past
President of the New York Society of Nephrology and
a founder and past President of the Association of
Academic Minority Physicians. Dr. Thomson served
several years on the Board of Directors of the American
Board of Internal Medicine and was the first African-
American to serve as its Chairman from 1991 to 1992.
He was also the first African American to serve as
President of the American College of Physicians.
Dr. Thomson remains very involved with the minority
house staff acting as ward attending during the year,
and as faculty advisor for the Society.
John Lindenbaum, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
That was the structure and the sequence of Dr. John Lindenbaum’s career with us. But what made him unusual, so influential, so important, and so exemplary? First and fundamentally he was a truly extraordinary clinician with a stunning breadth of knowledge and a gift for clinical instinct. How often many have said that he was simply the best clinician they had seen here or anywhere. As well, he was an aggressive, intensely inquisitive questioner of Medicine which ignited his research. John Lindenbaum’s research was the product of his observations during the care of patients, and that was evident very early. As a resident, he was the first to describe halothane-induced hepatic necrosis, and as a fellow, he published the first clinical description of the need for folate therapy in sickle cell anemia.
His three years in Bangladesh produced 17 publications on cholera and other intestinal disorders. When he came back to New York, he began his collection of over one thousand cases of vitamin B12 deficiency and more than 500 cases of folate deficiency, which formed the foundation of his considerable contributions to our understanding of those disorders.
His laboratory participated in the development of the B12 assay, of so much use to medicine and the cause of very interesting patent contentions that ended up in the Supreme Court. John would have been highly amused by that unforeseen development.
John was a gifted teacher. He seemed to have an instinct for knowing what to say to help the listener understand and learn. His rounds - the combination of the masterful clinician and the riveting teacher - were in many respects the height of clinical medicine.
John Lindenbaum simply had no patience for inequities and injustice in medicine. His advocacy took him to Bangladesh, it took him to Bellevue Hospital and years of devotion at Harlem Hospital, and it was the reason for so much he did here and elsewhere. He was particularly concerned about the representation and roles of minorities in medicine. He vigorously recruited and nurtured minority faculty for this department and particularly focused on recruitment and nurturing of house staff.
In 1997, the last year he was with us, John received the Baumfalk Award at graduation. He asked that the proceeds of that award be used to establish an annual lecture to be given by an esteemed biomedical scientist who was a minority. Over the years that lectureship was expanded to become the Lindenbaum Visiting Professorship.
Gerald Thomson, MD 2016
FROM OUR RESIDENT MEMBERS
Residency at Columbia has given me the opportunity to be part of a system that welcomes diversity and quickly makes you feel at home. It has certainly been a privilege to work in a setting that fosters underserved communities and mediates exposure to treat a wide array of disease in a challenging learning environment driven towards growth as well-rounded physicians while providing high quality patient care.
- Dennis De León, PGY2
“I first came to Columbia five years ago to start medical school, and I quickly learned that I had the privilege of not only being welcomed into the medical community, but also into the Columbia family. To me, being a part of this family means being held to a higher standard as a clinician, a researcher, and an educator. Now as I work along-side Columbia residents and faculty, I am continuously in awe of their knowledge, their autonomy, and their compassion.”
Nicole De Cuir, PGY 3
The John Lindenbaum Memorial Lecture