Dr. Paul Lietman

Dr. Paul S. Lietman, a retired Johns Hopkins professor of medicine, pharmacology, molecular sciences and pediatrics, died of congestive heart failure April 20 at his Ruxton home. He was 79.

"He was a gifted educator and was beloved by generations of Hopkins medical students," said Dr. Myron L. Weisfeldt, the medical school's chair and director of the Department Of Medicine. "He relished mentoring young colleagues and single-handedly recruited numerous young physicians."

He worked on drug development for HIV infections and herpes and was a pioneer in antiviral treatments, his medical colleagues said.

Dr. Weisfeldt said his friend would be "remembered for his clear and rational intellect, outspokenness, and insistence, for himself and others, on the highest scientific and ethical standards."

Born in Chicago, he was raised in Clarinda, Iowa, and in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where his father was a Presbyterian minister. While a student in a ninth-grade Latin class, he met his future wife, Sharon Coffield.

Dr. Lietman earned a Bachelor of Science degree from what is now Case Western Reserve University and his medical degree from Columbia University. He also had a doctorate in physiological chemistry from Johns Hopkins. He trained in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins and at the Hospital for Sick Children on Great Ormond Street in London. He also studied at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.

He joined the Hopkins faculty in 1968 and retired in 2010. Family members said he was proud that he had won teaching awards for both basic science and clinical science.

"He was a serious person but also had a great sense of humor," said his son, Dr. Steve Lietman, an orthopedic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, who lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. "He was a real stickler for details and honesty. He ran a division and did a lot of research. His rules were that the research be conducted well and that his patients would be well treated. He truly tried hard to accommodate them."

Dr. Lietman went on to head the Division of Clinical Pharmacology from 1972 to 2001. Hopkins colleagues said that because he held posts in medicine and pediatrics, Dr. Lietman earned the respect of students in both the basic sciences and clinical fields. A biography supplied by Hopkins said he held the Wellcome professorship of clinical pharmacology from 1980 to 1998 and "was instrumental in the creation of a number of innovative research groups and initiatives."

"Paul had a brilliant, crystal-clear intellect that informed every aspect of his professional life: incisive teacher, talented investigator, creative program builder," said Dr. Theresa A. Shapiro, a physician who succeeded him as head of clinical pharmacology. "Complementing this, he took a great interest in people. He was a major force in the field of clinical pharmacology and in the academic life of Johns Hopkins."

Dr. George Dover, director of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, called his medical colleague "an early pioneer in clinical trials defining rigorously the efficacy of antibiotics."

"He directed the pharmacy review committee for decades and applied strict, evidence-based assessment of whether drugs should be added to the formulary," Dr. Dover said. "In his later years, he was a leader in the development of Hopkins' international activities and most recently was a force in many of our Chinese collaborations."

Family members said that Dr. Lietman was a confirmed traveler who kept his bags packed for his many overseas professional trips. The biography supplied by the medical school said that Dr. Lietman was named the founding director of research and education when Hopkins launched an initiative in Singapore in 1998.

He also was director of academic relations for Johns Hopkins Medicine International, and he headed an effort to restore a relationship between Hopkins and the medical faculty of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He also worked to establish collaboration between Hopkins and the Children's Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai and the University of Trinidad and Tobago in Trinidad.

Dr. Lietman traveled as recently as last month, when he flew to London.

He founded and managed the Drug Development Unit at Hopkins Hospital, where he also created the position of hospital pharmacologist.

"Paul was a world-renowned clinical pharmacologist who pioneered antiviral treatments, including drugs for patients infected with herpes simplex virus and HIV," said Dr. Brent Petty, who now holds the hospital pharmacology post. "He demanded excellence in the studies he and others performed. The excellence allowed rational decisions about the use of medications in complex cases."

Family members said that after travel, Dr. Lietman's other hobby was eating well, but not necessarily gourmet dishes. His two favorite Baltimore restaurants were the old Haussner's on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown and the old Maison Marconi on Saratoga Street, where his favorite dessert was the chocolate sundae. More recently, he patronized the Haute Dog stand on Falls Road.

Funeral services are private. The family will receive friends from 3 to 5 p.m. May 18 at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

In addition to his wife of 57 years and his son, survivors include another son, Thomas Lietman, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, San Francisco; a daughter, Jennifer Lietman Howard, a nurse manager for the Sheppard Pratt Health System who lives in Timonium; and five grandchildren.


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