Robert C. Moellering, Jr., MD

The emails and text messages all carried very sad news today. Dr. Moellering died last night after a protracted illness. To quote from one email, many are left "with a very heavy heart and a sense of irreplaceable loss." Dr. Moellering was the Chair of Medicine at BIDMC during my fellowship and a mentor to many who passed through the New England Deaconess and Beth Israel Deaconess ID Divisions. On a personal level, beyond the knowledge and wisdom he imparted on me as a fellow, I will never forget receiving a reprint request from him upon the publication of my first post-fellowship paper. Certainly he already had a copy of the journal and certainly he had more important things to do. Others recalled similarly kind gestures.

Robert C. Moellering, Jr. was born in Lafayette, Indiana. He graduated from Valparaiso University (zoology) and received his MD from Harvard in 1962. He completed his residency and fellowship training at the Massachusetts General Hospital. From 1981 through 2005 he was Physician-in-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the New England Deaconess Hospital and after the merger in 1996 at BIDMC. He was then the Shields Warren-Mallinckrodt Professor of Medical Research at Harvard Medical School. He published over 400 original articles in a broad range of areas including antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic therapy and was directly involved in laboratory research for over 35 years. One thing many will remember him for is his role as editor for the Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy. He was honored numerous times including receiving the Maxwell Finland Award from IDSA, the Hoechst-Roussel Award from ASM, the 2006 the Maxwell Finland Award for Scientific Achievement from NFID and the 2008 Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement from IDSA.

Beyond his biography, I wanted to share two quotes from Dr. Moellering and a final one from Dr. Jerome Groopman delivered on the occasion of Dr. Moellering stepping down as Chair of Medicine.

“I served for the better part of 24 years as chairman of the department and also ran the faculty practice plan here. But I view administration as nothing more than a means to an end--a means to create more effective clinical and teaching programs in the department, and a way to ensure that I could have an impact on the training of physicians and the internal medicine house staff.”

“Teaching is the most important thing we do. Imparting knowledge to the next generation of physicians is incredibly important. It’s a privilege we are given in the academic setting. Not only does it give you a tremendous sense of satisfaction in that you’ve done something worthwhile, but it gives you some immediate gratification because you can watch students who go on to successful careers.”

Dr. Jerome Groopman: "How many of us has he supported on his shoulders? How many of us has he helped to move forward when we felt we didn't have the energy or endurance to continue? Those shoulders have carried enormous burdens, carried with a quiet confidence, through all the difficult times, the growth of the department, the merger…. Bob is loved because beyond his intellect, beyond his knowledge, beyond his hard work, he is filled with a unique form of kindness. Bob has true generosity of spirit. He sees your success as his success. This is his legacy."


1) BIDMC Historical Biosketches - Amy Slansky 2005
2) NFID, 2006 Maxwell Finland Award


  1. Sad news indeed. Thanks for posting that. I was able to meet him from my association with Merle Sande years back. He will be missed.

  2. Lovely post. I borrowed some of it here:

  3. Thanks for sharing. Bob contributed greatly to the ISAAR meetings and to the development of ID in Asia. He will be missed.


Post a Comment

Thanks for submitting your comment to the Controversies blog. To reduce spam, all comments will be reviewed by the blog moderator prior to publishing. However, all legitimate comments will be published, whether they agree with or oppose the content of the post.

Most Read Posts (Last 30 Days)