In Memoriam: Marvin Sleisenger

Message from Bob Wachter, Ken McQuaid, Rina Shah, Carl Grunfeld:

Dear Colleagues:

We are deeply saddened to report that Dr. Marvin Sleisenger passed away today at his home in Kentfield. He was 93 years old and his passing followed a long illness.

Dr. Sleisenger received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and served in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps during the Korean War. He received his post-graduate training at the University of Pennsylvania and New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, where he built an outstanding gastroenterology division. He was recruited to UCSF in 1968 by Dr. Holly Smith to become the Chief of the Medical Service at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC) and Vice Chair of our Department of Medicine.

Under his four decades of leadership at the VA and UCSF, Dr. Sleisenger built our VA into the premier academic institution within the VA system, as evidenced by nationally acclaimed programs in medical research, education, and patient care. Most of us affectionately referred to Marv as “The Chief,” and hundreds of trainees and faculty owe their successes to his skilled mentorship.

In addition to his roles at UCSF and our VA, Dr. Sleisinger was considered one of the giants of modern gastroenterology. Among his numerous scholarly publications, he edited the gastroenterology textbook “Sleisenger and Fordtan’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease,” now in its 10th edition. He also served as editor of the journal Gastroenterology and President of the American Gastroenterological Association. He received an honorary degree from the University of Nice in France. In 2011, he received the UCSF Medal, the university’s highest honor. A video commemorating his remarkable life, made on the occasion of his 2011 award, is here.

His wife, Lenore, predeceased him in 2009 after a wonderful marriage of 61 years. Their son Tom is an attorney in Los Angeles.

Dr. Sleisenger will be sorely missed by the veterans he served; the legions of students, residents, and fellows he taught and mentored; and the scores of faculty whose careers he supported and guided. A memorial service will be planned. 


Robert M. Wachter, MD
Chair, Department of Medicine

Kenneth R. McQuaid MD
Vice Chair, Department of Medicine and Chief of the Medical Service, SFVAMC

Rina Shah, MD
Acting Chief of Staff, SFVAMC

Carl Grunfeld, MD, PhD
Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development, SFVAMC