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Anna Cheskis Gelman, Epidemiologist, Dies

Anna Cheskis Gelman, a pioneer in epidemiology, died Feb. 6 in Bainbridge, Washington.

Gelman devoted more than 60 years of her life to the Mailman School of Public Health, where she helped shape the Department of Epidemiology as a teacher and practitioner. She joined the school in 1941 as a research assistant, later becoming full professor and acting head of epidemiology. She was dedicated to students as a teacher and mentor, as well as director of student affairs, editor of the first alumni directory and a founder of both the alumni and student government associations.

Gelman retired in 1982, but was still found on campus for many years on a voluntary basis, working primarily with the Mailman Office of Student Services.

Her legacy continues through the Anna Cheskis Gelman and Murray Charles Gelman Professorship for the chair of the Department of Epidemiology to honor her late husband, Murray Charles Gelman.

Her most recent gift to the school was the establishment of the Anna Cheskis Gelman Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory Suite for Infectious Disease Research. Under the direction of W. Ian Lipkin, this facility has allowed investigators at the Mailman School to establish methods for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of acute outbreaks of infectious disease and investigate links between infection and a wide range of chronic diseases.

Gelman was one of a select group of women to receive an MPH degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1934. She spent the early part of her career in the former Soviet Union, researching genetics at the Institute of Genetics, followed by studying medical and experimental parasitology at the All-Union Institute of Experimental Medicine in Moscow.

A memorial service will be held in the spring on the Columbia University Medical Center campus.

Published: Feb 16, 2005
Last modified: Feb 15, 2005

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