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Celebrating Athole Jacobi, MD

Remembering a devoted Temple supporter, mentor and friend.

News May 16, 2022

JacobiThe Lewis Katz School of Medicine and Temple Health community mourns the passing of Athole G. Jacobi, MD. A friend and mentor with a decades-long relationship that spanned the medical school, health system and broader university, she passed on March 25 at the age of 91. At the time of her passing, Dr. Jacobi was a member of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine Board of Visitors. Though she was not educated or trained at Temple, and was never a faculty member, Dr. Jacobi was drawn to our community and our mission and never looked back. Her commitment to Temple was deep, and her influence and impact far-reaching. From personal relationships that guided the careers of Temple physicians, to direct involvement with and generous donations for clinical departments, to substantial gifts of time, talent and philanthropic investment in support of medical students, including an endowed scholarship—Dr. Jacobi’s impact and legacy can be felt in nearly every corner of our institution. 

“Dr. Jacobi was a valued leader, advisor and generous supporter of the school and our students. While she did not train at Temple, she sparked something meaningful here. We are so grateful for her service, generosity and love of Temple,” says Amy J. Goldberg, MD, FACS Interim Dean of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. 

A trailblazing physician with an exceptional career, Dr. Jacobi was the first-ever female chair of an academic anesthesiology department in the nation, serving as chair at the Medical College of Pennsylvania (MCP) from 1972 to 1989. Her involvement with Temple was spurred by her motivation to create opportunities for other people willing to work hard and never back down from a challenge. Among her many altruistic activities within the Department of Anesthesiology, she contributed to the Chairperson’s Fund, which supports anesthesiology resident education, and she established a lecture series that has brought renowned speakers to the department. She named the endowed lectureship in honor of one of her mentees, Vincent Cowell, MD, who now serves at Temple as Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs. 

“I met Dr. Jacobi in the late 1970s as a hopeful nurse anesthesia student. I was already accepted into the nurse anesthetist program at Pennsylvania Hospital, but Dr. Jacobi made such an impression that I switched to MCP. That decision was probably the best thing to ever happen to me in my professional life. She adopted me from that point on; she supported me and encouraged me to go to medical school and followed me throughout my career. My biggest motivator has always been not to let her down,” said Dr. Cowell. 

Most recently, she gave a gift to endow “the library,” a conference room used for training and meetings in the anesthesia department. Just weeks before her passing, the Department held an emotional ceremony for department leadership, faculty members and friends to celebrate her relationship with the department and dedicate the facility in her name. 

“From this time forward the ‘Anesthesia Library’ will be referred to as the ‘Jacobi Library’ and we will endeavor to impress upon all of our trainees the level of ambition, dedication, and professionalism that should be inspired by that namesake,” Gordon Morewood, MD, MBA, FASE, Chair of Anesthesiology, said at the time.  

Chief Resident, Dan Malone, MD, shared that, "This room means a lot to us; we are introduced to anesthesia here, learn here and go on to teach anesthesia here. We spend a lot of time here, and we appreciate this endowment, and all Dr. Jacobi does for the department.”  

During her decades of association with the university and health system, Dr. Jacobi became one of Temple's core supporters, as well as an ardent university sports fan and benefactor. When our community came together to honor and celebrate her on a different occasion several years ago, Dr. Jacobi modestly replied, “It was a pleasure to help people who were doing a good job”. As it did over the course of her long and rich relationship with Temple, her friendship and generosity will continue to have a powerful impact for generations to come. 

Dr. Morewood emphasized, “She will be missed, but should always be remembered for the incredibly positive impact she had on everything she touched.”

Read More about Dr. Jacobi  

Donations in Dr. Jacobi’s memory can be made to the Alistair McNeil, MD Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, a scholarship Dr. Jacobi established in memory of her late brother.  

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