Arnold Weinberg, medical director at MIT Medical from 1986 to 2000, died on Monday, Sept. 28 at his home in Rockport, Massachusetts. He was 85.
Weinberg’s medical career spanned nearly 60 years. He received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University; graduated from Harvard Medical School; and in 1956 began an internship at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). After completing additional training in the Laboratory of Metabolic Enzymes at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, he returned to MGH, joining the hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases in 1961. As an active participant in the clinical, research, and teaching activities of the Division, Weinberg designed and directed a course in microbiology and infectious diseases at Harvard Medical School and, with Robert Moellering, conducted some of the first research on mechanisms of antibiotic synergy in Enterococcus organisms. He became chair of medicine at Cambridge Hospital in 1971, vice chair of medicine at MGH in 1975, and medical director at MIT Medical in 1986. After retiring from MIT in 2000, he returned to MGH to teach and care for patients as an infectious disease consultant until his retirement just 15 months before his death.
“Arnie was a thoughtful, insightful, caring colleague, mentor, teacher, clinician, and friend,” says William Kettyle, who succeeded Weinberg as medical director at MIT Medical. Kettyle cites a number of important achievements that occurred under Weinberg’s leadership, including the start of 24-hour-per-day physician coverage at MIT Medical and a greatly enhanced relationship between MIT Medical and Partners HealthCare, resulting in increased access to superior subspecialty care for MIT patients. But Weinberg’s greatest legacy may be the establishment of a full-service, primary care facility on the campus of MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a project that involved many years of planning and discussion with laboratory and Institute leaders and coordination with a number of licensing agencies. MIT Medical/Lexington opened its doors to its first patients in 1999.
As a physician who had been involved with the Lincoln Laboratory community since 1991, Associate Medical Director David Diamond remembers Weinberg asking him to help develop the operational and staffing plans for the new Lexington clinic. “He gave us free range to design the service to meet the community’s needs,” Diamond recalls. “From Arnie, we always felt trust and support, never micromanaged nor second-guessed. He took the time to praise good work, to send the occasional personal letter, hand annotated, acknowledging some special event or service.”
Annette Jacobs, who served as executive director of MIT Medical under Weinberg from 1994 until 2000 remembers him as “a man with twinkling blue eyes and a marvelous deep laugh. Nothing challenged and pleased him more than working with others successfully to track down the cause of and treat an infection that was causing a patient harm, distress, discomfort.” He was an optimist about all things. That was one of his overriding qualities and strengths, adds Jacobs. “He was a partner, a colleague, a friend.”
Weinberg was a world traveler, an ambitious gardener, and an avid birdwatcher. According to an obituary published in The Boston Globe on Oct. 1, he continued to follow world events and sports until just a few days before his death and was particularly interested in seeing what the Cubs might do this year.
“Arnie was a mentor, teacher and friend to thousands of physicians over many decades,” notes Associate Medical Director Howard Heller. “He will be sorely missed.”
Weinberg is survived by his wife, Inge Toftegadd-Weinberg, and three daughters, Suzanne, Davida, and Carolyn. A celebration of his life will be held later this fall.