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Paul Rubenstein, MD: 1931-2017

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Paul Rubenstein, MD

Paul Rubenstein, MD, a longtime physician executive whose vision and drive helped transform Cedars-Sinai from a community hospital into a major academic health system, has died. He was 86.

Rubenstein, who oversaw a dramatic expansion of clinical services and research from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, died of congestive heart failure July 4 at a nursing home in Northern California.

"Paul Rubenstein's leadership came at a crucial time in Cedars-Sinai's history and helped make it the dynamic institution it is today," said Thomas M. Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai.

The son of a real estate developer, Rubenstein was born May 3, 1931, in Milwaukee, and later moved to Phoenix. After completing undergraduate studies at Harvard University, he earned his medical degree in 1957 from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Months later, he arrived at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, one of Cedars-Sinai's precursors, for an internship and a three-year residency in medicine.

Over the next three decades, Rubenstein would serve in a number of leadership roles with Cedars of Lebanon and its successor, Cedars-Sinai, culminating in his appointment as vice president of professional services, a position he held for nearly two decades. He played an instrumental role in planning for the new Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which opened in 1976 following the merger of Cedars of Lebanon and Mount Sinai hospitals.

"He always enjoyed pushing envelopes and being a visionary," said Michael Langberg, MD, senior vice president of Medical Affairs and chief medical officer at Cedars-Sinai, who worked with Rubenstein for several years. "He remarked once that most physicians take care of one patient at a time. In his job, he felt he was caring for hundreds of patients at a time, impacting the lives of thousands of people he knew he would never meet."

In 1998, the Paul Rubenstein, MD, Prize for Excellence in Resident Research was created to recognize outstanding Cedars-Sinai trainees. The prize is sponsored by the Burns and Allen Research Institute and the Cedars-Sinai Clinical and Translational Research Center. Rubenstein was the first director of the research institute.

Rubenstein in 1955 married Maxine Kessler, a graduate of Beverly Hills High School and the University of Southern California. The couple, who later divorced, had three children—Daniel, Peter and Anthony.

"My dad really had two families," recalled Anthony Rubenstein, the youngest of the three children, who now lives in Philadelphia. "He had ours when we were growing up and he had Cedars-Sinai. He was completely dedicated to the institution."

Rubenstein is survived by his son, Anthony, who requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Paul Rubenstein, MD, Prize for Excellence in Resident Research, c/o Academic Affairs, 8700 Beverly Blvd., NT2004, Los Angeles, CA 90048.