We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Obituary |

In Memoriam: Hillel S. Panitch, MD (1940-2010) FREE

Olaf Stüve, MD, PhD; Ron Milo, MD
[+] Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Neurology Section, VA North Texas Health Care System, Medical Service, and Department of Neurology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas (Dr Stüve); and Department of Neurology, Barzilai Medical Center, Ashkelon, Israel (Dr Milo).

Arch Neurol. 2011;68(5):681. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2011.83.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Hillel Panitch was a neurologist, neurovirologist, and neuroimmunologist who participated in the introduction and characterization of novel pharmacotherapies for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Place holder to copy figure label and caption

Hillel S. Panitch, MD

Graphic Jump Location

Panitch received his bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University, followed by a Fulbright scholarship, which took him to the University of Lyon for a year. On his return to the United States, he obtained his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He completed an internship at Bellevue Hospital before embarking on his journey to become a clinician-scientist in neurology.

Between 1968 and 1971, Panitch was a neurology resident at the University of California, San Francisco under Robert Fishman, MD, already one of the strongest residency programs in the country. Between 1970 and 1971, he was chief resident. Following residency, he completed 5 more years as a postdoctoral fellow, first at Johns Hopkins University in neurovirology, then at the Neuroimmunology Branch at the National Institutes of Health.

Panitch went back to the West Coast to take his first academic position at University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. After quickly being promoted to associate professor, he moved back to Maryland, where he held posts of chief of the Department of Neurology at the VA Medical Center in Baltimore and professor of the Department of Neurology at the University of Maryland. In 2000, Panitch became professor of the Department of Neurology at the University of Vermont, where he reestablished the MS Center of Northern New England and worked until the end of his career.

The professional accomplishments of Panitch are numerous. According to those who worked with him and knew him well, he was an outstanding clinician in the true sense of the word. Not only was he exceptional at observing, diagnosing, and treating patients with a broad variety of neurological conditions, he possessed a warmth and empathy that made it easy for him to connect with his patients, medical students, and neurology residents. In 2000, Panitch was awarded the Golden Hammer Award for Clinical Neurology, Resident Teaching, and Patient Care by the Department of Neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

As a scientist, Panitch was prolific over many decades, with his work published in the most prestigious scientific journals. He made several seminal observations. In 1987, he conducted a clinical trial with increasing doses of systemically administered interferon gamma in patients with relapsing-remitting MS. Unexpectedly, a disproportionate number of patients developed disease exacerbations during treatment, and an increase in circulating HLA-DR–positive monocytes was detected. Observations made in this trial led to several hypotheses: (1) MS disease exacerbations are immune mediated and not the consequence of viral illness; (2) interferon gamma is critical in major histocompatibility complex regulation; and (3) antagonizing the effects of interferon gamma, for instance with interferon beta, may be beneficial in MS. His long-standing interest in basic immunological research helped to unveil important immunomodulating properties of interferons and other MS therapies.

Panitch was also principal investigator and participant in many international and national trials that evaluated disease-modifying and symptomatic therapies for patients with MS, including in the pivotal Betaseron and Copaxone trials. Perhaps more importantly, these trials often evaluated novel concepts of therapeutic interventions, which included dose responses, induction therapy, and combination therapy. He also held positions on the Medical Advisory Board and the Advisory Committee on Clinical Trials at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In addition to directly providing benefit to patients with MS through his own academic initiatives, he collaborated with many of the thought leaders in the field. He mentored numerous academic leaders in this country and abroad, to whom he was a role model with his intellectual abilities and legendary work ethic.

Panitch has affected many, not only his patients and their families, but the MS community as a whole. He was an extraordinarily gifted physician and a mensch. Those who knew him well will attest to his intellect, kindness, humble nature, and very wry sense of humor.


Correspondence: Dr Stüve, Neurology Section, VA North Texas Health Care System, Medical Service, 4500 S Lancaster Rd, Dallas, TX 75216 (olaf.stuve@utsouthwestern.edu).

Financial Disclosure: None reported.


Place holder to copy figure label and caption

Hillel S. Panitch, MD

Graphic Jump Location




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections