Leon E. Rosenberg, Geneticist Who Wrote His Depression, Dies at 89
After a stint as a street vendor, Abraham earned enough money to open his own general store. He learned English quickly and even perfected his rural Wisconsin accent, which helped him connect with his clients. Celia, a housewife, still maintains her thick Yiddish accent.
A childhood accident involving a factory on Celia’s family farm resulted in the amputation of her left hand, rendering all but her thumb and index finger useless. “At about the age of five,” Dr. Rosenberg wrote in his memoir, “while taking her left hand in both of mine, I told her that I intended to be a doctor so I can fix her hand.”
Leon was a model student: He was the valedictorian of his high school and completed his convocation cum bachelor’s at the University of Wisconsin, where he graduated in 1954 and received his medical degree in 1957. He interned at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital before transferring to the National Academy. of Health as a research fellow in 1959.
His first marriage, to Elaine Lewis, ended in divorce. Along with his wife, he is survived by his brother, Irwin, former dean of the School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University; his sons, Robert Rosenberg and David Korish; his daughters, Diana Clark and Alexa Rosenberg; six grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
While at Yale, Dr. Rosenberg led research into inherited metabolic disorders, despite skepticism from colleagues about the basis of this work. “Don’t be silly,” he recalls a Yale nephrologist telling him. “There’s no such thing.”
Dr. Rosenberg proved him wrong. He filled lectures with case studies of children – Steven of course, followed by Dana, Lorraine, Robby and others – who presented inexplicable disorders, for which he consistently shown to be due to their body’s inability to metabolize various acids and is usually easily treatable.