Lawrence M. Fishman, MD, 1933-2021

Dr. Fishman leads first Dialogue in Research Ethics, Sept. 18, 1992.

Dr. Lawrence M. Fishman, an early supporter of and advocate for UM’s Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy, died on January 27, 2021. He was 87.

Dr. Fishman, trained as an endocrinologist, he arrived in Miami in 1967 and helped build the research program at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Miami. Indeed, the ethics institute’s first offices were in the Miami VA’s research section, thanks to Dr. Fishman. He established the South Florida Veterans Affairs Foundation for Research and Education and was one of the founders of the University of Miami/Miami VA General Clinical Research Center (GCRC), one of the country's three such VA-affiliated centers.

He also ensured that the Miami VA was one of the first sponsors of UM’s “Florida Bioethics: Debates, Decisions, Solutions” conference. The VA co-sponsored the first conference in 1993 and has every year since. The 28th year of the meeting – now jointly with the Florida Bioethics Network and which has evolved into what is apparently the oldest and largest community bioethics conferences in the world – was in November 2020.

Dr. Fishman also was an early supporter of the Miller School of Medicine’s Dialogues in Research Ethics. He led the first Dialogue, on Sept. 18, 1992.

He was a gifted clinician, and his research on the adrenal gland produced important contributions to the medical literature (partial PubMed search). He was an excellent writer and editor, and for years enjoyed reviewing (and correcting) the announcements of forthcoming Dialogues in Research Ethics.

“Larry Fishman was a medical rara avis,” said Kenneth W. Goodman, founder and director of the bioethics institute. “He wed scientific brilliance with a commitment to social issues – and he did so with gentleness, grace, and generosity.” In addition to medical and research ethics, Dr. Fishman’s interests included gun control and nuclear disarmament. “He believed physicians should commit themselves to public health and safety and what used to be uncontroversial moral stances,” Goodman said.

Drs. Fishman and Goodman developed and delivered a course in Jewish medical ethics for Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest in 2004.

Blue index card from Dr. Fishman

Dr. Fishman was both famous and beloved for his use of blue index cards to share notes, ideas about projects, and memos atop an article to read. Goodman referred to them as "Blue Fishmans." In his memorial service on Feb. 1, one of his sons, Charles, said he was to be interred with a blue index card.

In a 2009 announcement of the Jay S. Skyler Visiting Professorship in Diabetes and Metabolism endowed by Dr. Fishman and his wife, Suzanne, he said, “I am very grateful to the University and the medical school for my professional life. I have been very blessed in a professional way and have some wonderful colleagues. I have had the opportunity to take care of patients, to teach, and to do research in a stimulating and developing medical center.”

Dr. Fishman and his wife, Suzanne, were married 65 years.

Miami Herald obituary.