In Memoriam: Sheila Susan Moriber Katz, 1943-2023

Sheila Moriber Katz, former dean of Hahnemann University School of Medicine in Philadelphia who discovered the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease, died at her home in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, on September 10. She was 80 years old and had suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Katz was born and raised in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from high school at age 16 and earned a bachelor’s degree at Cornell University at age 19. At Cornell, she was the captain of the drum majorette team. Dr. Katz began her medical training at the University of Chicago but earned her medical degree at Duke University.

In 1976, a mysterious ailment struck an American Legion convention at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia causing 29 deaths. As a young faculty member at Hahnemann, Dr. Katz was charged with examining tissue from the deceased. She was able to identify the bacteria that caused the outbreak. While conducting this research she also became infected with Legionnaires’s disease.

Throughout her career, Dr. Katz was recognized as an exceptional mentor and pioneer for women in medicine. At Hahnemann, she directed the Electron Microscopy Lab, published extensively on renal biology, and rose to become a tenured professor of pathology and eventually dean. She served as executive director of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, was president of the Duke Medical Alumni Council, founded a company dedicated to the transformation of medicine through scientific innovation, and served as president of the Philadelphia County Medical Society.

Filed Under: In Memoriam

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