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Vanderbilt mourns former Emergency Medicine leader Auerbach

Jun. 30, 2021, 8:51 AM


by Wayne Wood

Paul Auerbach, MD

Paul Auerbach, MD, former chief of the Division of Emergency Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, died June 23 in Los Altos, California. The cause of death was cancer, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians, which announced his death on its website. He was 70.

Dr. Auerbach was a native of New Jersey who earned his MD at Duke, did an internship at Dartmouth and a residency in emergency medicine at UCLA. He came to Vanderbilt in 1985 and served as division chief in Emergency Medicine until 1991, when he accepted a leadership post in Emergency Medicine at Stanford. Building on Dr. Auerbach’s leadership, Emergency Medicine gained departmental status at Vanderbilt in 1992.

He was most recently the Redlich Family Professor Emeritus in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Stanford and adjunct professor of Military/Emergency Medicine at the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Dr. Auerbach was known for his love of the outdoors, and for his decades of leadership in the field of wilderness medicine. He edited the Journal of Wilderness Medicine from 1990 to 1995, was co-founder of the Wilderness Medical Society and was the author of the books “Wilderness Medicine” and “Medicine for the Outdoors,” among others.

After earthquake disasters in Haiti and Nepal, Dr. Auerbach traveled to the disaster zones and provided care to victims, and was also active in relief efforts closer to his home during recent California wildfires. He had also become active in researching and teaching about the impact of climate change on health and communities.

“Paul was bigger than life,” said John Morris, MD, professor of Surgery, who worked closely with Dr. Auerbach at Vanderbilt.

“He was a prodigious writer, editor, photographer, entrepreneur, diver, mountaineer, mentor, scientist and storyteller of the first order. Paul never met a barrier he could not overcome, a person he could not charm, or a sentence he could not edit.”

Dr. Auerbach is survived by his wife Sherry, sons Brian and Danny, and daughter Lauren.

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