UH Med Now

Aloha Oe, Dr. Irwin Schatz, Longtime Chair of Medicine at JABSOM

Date: April 8th, 2015 in Alumni News, Faculty, JABSOM News    Print or PDF

Dr. Schatz

A memorial is scheduled May 31 for Dr. Irwin Schatz, former Chair of Medicine and Emeritus Professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). Visitation is from 12 noon, with the service from 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. at Punahou School’s Thurston Chapel.

Dr. Schatz died of cancer at his home on April 1st. But his teaching, his ethics, his professionalism and compassion live on in the thousands of physicians throughout Hawaiʻi, who are better doctors because of him.

“Dr. Schatz was loved by generations of medical students, and his colleagues. His role as Chair of Medicine began during an important time for the UH medical school,” said JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges. “Our first four-year MD Class graduated in 1975. Faculty like Dr. Schatz contributed so much in building a school that is now ranked #19 in the country for Primary Care, by US News & World Report. We will miss Irv, as a colleague and a friend. But he will never be forgotten at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.”


Barb and Irv Schatz, in 2003. Provided by UH Department of Medicine.

Barb and Irv Schatz, in 2003. Provided by UH Department of Medicine.




In a note to fellow physicians in the local American College of Physicians, Dr. Mary Ann Antonelli wrote, “Irv touched us all, each in many different ways; as colleagues and students he taught us by sharing his insight and love of medicine.” Dr. Antonelli is the former director of Student Affairs for JABSOM and a physician at the Veterans Administration in Hawai’i.

Dr. Schatz and Dr. Antonelli.

Dr. Schatz and Dr. Antonelli.

“Despite his substantial intellectual and ethical accomplishments, we are awed by his humility. We are honored to have had Irv’s influence and presence in the Hawai’i Internal Medicine community. We share this loss with his family and close friends, and offer our sincere condolences,” wrote Dr. Antonelli.


Dr. Jayson Takata (JABSOM 1991) and his wife Lisa with Faculty Emeritus Dr. Irwin Schatz, at an alumni reunion event in 2013.

Dr. Jayson Takata (JABSOM 1991) and his wife Lisa with Faculty Emeritus Dr. Irwin Schatz, at an alumni reunion event in 2013.


Career at UH
Dr. Schatz served the University of Hawaiʻi for 36 years, joining the faculty in 1975. He is recognized by colleagues as an authority in Cardiology and highly respected as a scholar, mentor and talented teacher. He published nearly 100 articles about orthostatic hypotension, cardiovascular risk factors and medical education.

Dr. Schatz arrives, always, with a smile. Pictured with Dr. Patricia Blanchette.

Dr. Schatz arrives, always, with a smile. Pictured with Dr. Patricia Blanchette.




Dr. Schatz dedicated much of his time to the Honolulu Heart Program, a long-term study of Japanese-American men in Hawaiʻi with almost 1/2 century of data (48 years as of 2015.)


Dr. Schatz' protest of the Tuskegee study helped change the way medical trials are conducted.

Dr. Schatz’ protest of the Tuskegee study helped change the way medical trials are conducted.




Taking a Courageous Stand
Dr. Schatz was influential in changing how patients are protected in clinical studies, because he bravely questioned the ethics of the controversial “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male”, conducted between 1932 and 1972. As a young doctor, Schatz was the only physician to reach out to the government to express his outrage. He wrote to the researchers, “I am utterly astounded by the fact that physicians allow patients with (sic) potentially fatal disease to remain untreated when effective therapy is available.” In 2009, the Mayo Clinic, where Irv studied medicine, honored him for his courage and his career of service.”


Dr. Schatz speaking about his colleague, the late Max Botticelli, MD, in 2012.

Dr. Schatz speaking about his colleague, the late Max Botticelli, MD, in 2012.




Dr. Schatz also taught and elective for MD students in Art appreciation at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, believing it could help them become better observers of their patients. He also served at the Veterans Administration Hospital and volunteered at the Waikīkī Health Center, where, in addition to Island Hospice, the family says donations in Dr. Schatz name would be welcome.


The Schatz family plans a memorial service but has not yet chosen a date.

Related Story:
Dr. Irwin Schatz, others recognize the contributions of the late Dr. Max Botticelli

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