Career comes full circle for pioneer in transplant surgery with endowed lectureship

Dr. Jerry Rosenberg and his wife, Corliss, at their home in Ann Arbor.

Dr. Jerry Rosenberg, retired faculty of Wayne State University School of Medicine and former chief of surgery at Hutzel Hospital, and his wife, Corliss Rosenberg, established the J.C. Rosenberg Endowed Lecture in Transplantation and Tumor Immunology during the Pivotal Moments campaign. The lectureship, which is now in its fifth year, was established by the Rosenbergs to teach aspiring surgeons about the field’s leading-edge research and innovations.

“Lectureships bring in a diversity of perspectives and experiences. They enhance the knowledge of everyone who attends them,” Dr. Rosenberg said.

Dr. Rosenberg has always valued lectures as an educational tool, and it was after one that he met the individual who helped launch his career.

“I came to the Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1968 after living and working as a surgeon in Toledo. Dr. Alexander Walt, chairman of the Department of Surgery at the time, came down for a lecture, and afterwards we started talking. We discussed my research interests in transplantation and immunology. When we finished our conversation, and after I had an opportunity to take him on my rounds, he offered me the position of associate professor,” said Dr. Rosenberg.

By recruiting Dr. Rosenberg, Dr. Walt was able to form one of Detroit’s first clinical transplantation teams and positioned Dr. Rosenberg as the lead surgeon.

Over the next two decades, Dr. Rosenberg and his team performed pioneering transplantation surgeries. “We became a desirable team,” said Dr. Rosenberg, describing the team composed of himself, a surgeon in transplantation and immunology, and two colleagues from the Department of Urology and Nephrology. “Because of our success we were moved over to Hutzel Hospital, and I became Hutzel’s first full-time chief of surgery.”

During his time at the School of Medicine, Dr. Rosenberg dedicated himself to his research, his patients and his residents. He established monthly lectures that residents and students were required to attend.

“The lectures cost more than we could afford, but I continued to ask leading surgeons to come in and speak because I felt this was critical,” stated Dr. Rosenberg.

It was the desire to continue enriching robust medical education in this way that inspired the Rosenbergs to create the endowed lecture. Dr. Donald Weaver, the Penberthy Professor and chair of the Michael and Marian Ilitch Department of Surgery, agreed that the lectureships are a critical part of clinical training.

“I am grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Rosenberg for establishing this endowed lecture series because it provides the stable resources that enable us to bring in renowned experts in the field to share knowledge with our faculty, students and residents,” said Dr. Weaver. “The lectures ensure we remain on the leading-edge of patient care.”

Dr. Rosenberg’s medical legacy, and his commitment to the Wayne State University School of Medicine, also inspired both of his sons, Andrew and David, to pursue careers in medicine. Dr. Rosenberg described the School of Medicine as being a pivotal part of his life, and he finds joy in the leadership role his son, Dr. David Rosenberg, has taken at the School of Medicine as the chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences.

The Rosenbergs have seen firsthand how lectures can impact the knowledge and success of physicians. Through the J.C. Rosenberg Endowed Lecture in Transplantation and Tumor Immunology, they are ensuring that future generations of physicians can experience the same opportunities to advance their careers and improve patient care.

The Rosenbergs hope that others will see the importance of philanthropically supporting such educational opportunities at the School of Medicine. To learn more about how to make a gift, please contact Lori Robitaille at or 313-993-4070.

(October 27, 2017)

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