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Julius H. Jacobson II, M.D., age 95, peacefully, on December 4. A brilliant vascular surgeon, he pioneered vascular microsurgery and was called the “father of microsurgery.” Possessed of a fertile and inventive mind that encouraged the cross fertilization of ideas, his early research at the University of Vermont proved transformational. Innovating from his study of cell microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania, he was the first to use a microscope to anastomose tiny blood vessels.
This breakthrough fostered advances in many areas of surgery such as cardiac bypass, organ transplant, neurosurgery, skin grafting and plastic surgery. He developed a double-headed microscope for use in the operating room, a diploscope, that is in the Smithsonian Museum. He also pioneered hyperbaric surgery at Mount Sinai, his longtime professional home. He developed new surgical tools and suture materials to make these advances possible.
Early in his career he was the first Jewish chief resident in surgery at Columbia, no small feat in that era. Throughout his career, legions of grateful patients acknowledged his life-saving work. The University of Vermont College of Medicine awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1999. Born in Toledo and growing up in Chicago, Detroit, and New York, he attended Townsend Harris high school, earned tuition for college working as a photographer, joined the navy, then studied cell microbiology as mentioned to help him gain admission to medical school, attending the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Later in life he published a book, The Classical Music Experience, replete with a soundtrack and audio narrated by Kevin Kline. In addition, he and his late wife Joan were philanthropists who endowed chairs in surgery at Mount Sinai, Johns Hopkins, and the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine in Jerusalem; an Aortic Disease Center at Mount Sinai; a research professorship at the Chan Harvard School of Public Health; a Center for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Toledo; and, at the American College of Surgeons, established two major awards—The Promising Investigator Award which has encouraged a generation of young researchers, and an Innovation Award that recognizes established researchers.
He is survived by his daughter Wendy (Andrew H. Miller), son William (Beth), four grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He is also survived by his stepchildren Fred Cowett (Diana), and Anne Cowett, and two step-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute in his memory to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Department of Surgery.