Dr. Bennett Lorber Honored with Portrait
The numbers shared at the June 13 portrait unveiling for Temple infectious diseases specialist Bennett Lorber, MD, MACP, were staggering:
- 50 years of service at Temple
- Over 10,000 medical students taught
- 13-time recipient of the Golden Apple Teaching Award
- Six-time hooder at the School of Medicine’s graduation
- Two-time dedicatee of the yearbook
“Maybe the Golden Apple Award should be renamed the Bennett Lorber Teaching Award,” quipped opening speaker Larry Kaiser, MD, FACS, The Lewis Katz Dean of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine and President and CEO of Temple University Health System.
The standing-room-only portrait unveiling was a fitting tribute to a man Dr. Kaiser described as one of Temple’s most revered educators. “Rumor has it that for students, residents and fellows, a common answer to ‘what’s your next step’ when stumped with a particularly vexing diagnostic question is, ‘call Dr. Lorber,’” he said to a wave of knowing laughter.
Internationally recognized for his medical knowledge and skill, Dr. Lorber is also well known for his guitar playing and artwork. Said Thomas Fekete, MD, MACP, Interim Chair of Medicine at Temple, “Dr. Lorber could have had a career in art or music or probably anything he set his mind to, but it is our amazing fortune that he chose medicine and specifically infectious diseases as his focus.”
Former Temple infectious diseases fellow Florence Momplaisir, MD, MSHP, FACP, praised Dr. Lorber’s time as Chief of Infectious Diseases from 1983 to 2006.
“He fostered a love of learning and scholarship and created a culture of camaraderie. He dedicated countless hours to teaching both formally and informally during rounds. Most importantly, he created a safe place where everybody’s opinion, from the least experienced medical student to the most seasoned attending, was valued.”
Another speaker, Sarah Long, MD, Chief of Infectious Diseases at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, has known Dr. Lorber for more than four decades. For five minutes, she melodically wove one story into another, masterfully illustrating Dr. Lorber’s impact on her, his colleagues and his patients.
“Rounds were full of clinical pearls – enough to string a necklace. His modeling of extracting from the labyrinthine history the piece that was pivotal to the case, his diligent attention to the physical examination and laboratory tests to expose the key findings. Then we watched the wheels turn as a masterful clinician mixed and sifted the facts to match up with his uncommonly deep knowledge bank to come to the best diagnosis.”
On a personal note, she added, “Through some spell in his magical engagement of learners, we heard him speaking to us individually, and we were answering the call. We wanted to be teachers and doctors and thinkers and caring people – in his likeness.”
When it was his turn to speak, a clearly humbled Dr. Lorber seemed overwhelmed by the sentiments shared by the speakers and the presence of an overflowing crowd of friends, family members, colleagues and past trainees.
“If your goal was to embarrass me and bring tears to my eyes, you succeeded admirably,” he said. After many thank yous and acknowledgments, he went on to praise Temple for “providing me with a home away from home for 50 years and for letting me be me.”
“Throughout most of my life I have often been the square peg that didn’t fit into the round hole,” he said of himself. “Temple didn’t try to push me into the round hole; they let me remain the square peg and do things in my own way. I should say I wouldn’t have let them push me anyway, but I am grateful that they left me alone.”
Dr. Lorber ended his remarks by praising his friend and artist Randall Exton – “not a portrait painter per se but as you will see I don’t have a conventional portrait.” With that, the veil was lifted on a painting that uniquely captures the free spirit, the teacher, the thinker, the clinician and the artist that is Temple’s Renaissance Man, Dr. Bennett Lorber.