An esteemed clinician who began his career at Johns Hopkins, Raphael “Ralph” David was a founding member of the Pediatric Endocrine Society and left a lasting mark on the field of endocrinology.
David, who served as the chief of pediatric endocrinology at the New York University School of Medicine from 1963 to 2011, died January 17, 2021, at age 95.
“Ralph was a gentle man and has a legion of patients who will remember how much he cared for them,” says Barbara Migeon, a geneticist and professor emerita in the Department of Pediatrics and Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins.
David’s research, which focused on the complexities of adrenal gland steroidogenesis, advanced scientists’ understanding of adrenal disorders, growth and pubertal disorders, and thyroid disease in children. In a time before rapid hormonal assays were available, he also saved numerous newborns with congenital adrenal hyperplasia by diagnosing them in the first days of life.
Born and raised in Port Said, Egypt, David trained at Johns Hopkins, with an internship and then a residency in pediatrics starting in 1955, which were followed by a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology that ended in 1961. He was among the last fellows to work with pioneering endocrinologist Lawson Wilkins ’18, who founded the world’s first pediatric endocrinology clinic at the Harriet Lane Home in 1935.
David also studied under Claude Migeon, Barbara Migeon’s late husband, who was director of pediatric endocrinology from 1961 to 1994. David contributed to Claude’s posthumous 2019 book, Legacy: The Pediatric Endocrine Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, 1960–2000, in which he recalled fond memories of Baltimore working under Wilkins and Migeon.“I can safely say that my years in Baltimore were the best in my career,” David wrote.