November 26, 2019

Noted anesthesiologist Berman mourned

Lawrence Berman, MD, PhD, MS, professor of Anesthesiology, emeritus, died Nov. 18 at 90.


Lawrence Berman, MD, PhD, MS, professor of Anesthesiology, emeritus, died Nov. 18 at 90.

Lawrence Berman, MD, PhD, MS

Following appointments as an assistant professor and associate professor of anesthesiology at Northwestern Medical School, Dr. Berman began his Vanderbilt career in 1974 as a professor in anesthesiology and associate professor of pharmacology. Until his retirement in 1999, he provided distinguished service as a scientist, practicing anesthesiologist and mentor and trainer of outstanding individuals and resident physicians.

Among his achievements are noted accomplishments in research and clinical studies, the introduction of several clinical innovations and pioneering work in the use of certain drugs in neurosurgical procedures. Dr. Berman also played a key role in establishing Vanderbilt’s division of Neuroanesthesiology and the Neuro Intensive Care Unit.

“Dr. Berman published at least once per year in the most respected of anesthesia journals,” said Bradley Smith, MD, professor of Anesthesiology, emeritus, and former chair of the department. “One of his most famous showed that, contrary to all previous dogma, most inhalation anesthetics undergo some degree of degradation and metabolism within the human body. Another showed that some anesthetics accelerate the action of some enzymes that metabolize other drugs.”

Dr. Berman received his BS and MS degrees from the University of Connecticut in 1951 and 1954, his PhD from the University of Washington in 1956, and his MD degree from the University of North Carolina in 1964. Before medical school, he served as a captain in the United States Air Force, where he ran the giant centrifuge at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to test the original Mercury astronauts for G tolerance.

He is survived by his wife, Leah, his sons, Lawrence (Lani) and Michael (April), grandsons, Lawson and Gavin, and granddaughter, Emilia.

Memorial contributions may be made to KIPP Nashville or the Temple Congregation Ohabai Sholom.