In Memoriam: Dr. Ephraim P. Engleman

reprinted from Issue 22, Spring 2016 of Frontiers of Medicine (PDF)

Ephraim P. Engleman, MD, founding director of the Rosalind Russell/Ephraim P. Engleman Rheumatology Research Center at UCSF.

Ephraim P. Engleman, MD, a pioneer in rheumatology and founding director of the Rosalind Russell/Ephraim P. Engleman Rheumatology Research Center at UCSF, died on September 2, 2015 at age 104.

Born in San Jose in 1911, Engleman was a violin prodigy and played background music at silent movie theaters as a teenager. The introduction of talking pictures helped motivate his decision to pursue medicine rather than music. He graduated from Stanford University, earned his medical degree at Columbia University, completed residencies at UCSF and Tufts University in Boston, then completed a research fellowship with renowned Harvard rheumatologist Walter Bauer, MD.

In the mid-1940s, Engleman opened a private practice as the Bay Area’s only formally trained rheumatologist. He joined the UCSF faculty in 1947, where he remained until the last day of his life. In the mid-1970s, he chaired the National Commission on Arthritis, a congressionally mandated task force convened to address the lack of arthritis research and education. Rosalind Russell, a prominent actress afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, co-chaired the Commission. Among other important achievements, the commission’s recommendations resulted in the establishment of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. After Russell’s death in 1976, Congress established the Rosalind Russell Medical Research Center for Arthritis, selecting UCSF to house it and Engleman to be its founding director. He raised more than $50 million in private support for the Center, which was renamed in his honor in 2014.

Engleman also created a new award within the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Research Foundation to attract residents into the field. He provided full funding for the program for its first five years, and subsequently endowed the award to ensure its continuation. Among his many honors, he received the ACR Presidential Gold Medal and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons’ Gold Medal.

Engleman maintained a lifelong love for music, practicing violin almost daily and playing chamber music each week with the San Andreas Quartet. He was also an active member of the Family Club. Engleman published an autobiography, My Century, in 2013.

His survivors include his wife of 74 years, Jean; three children, Philip, Edgar and Jill; six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

To contribute in memory of Dr. Engleman to the Jean S. and Ephraim P. Engleman Endowment, please contact Jacqui Lang at (415) 476-3341 or

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