Obituary:  Warren S. Grundfest, MD, FACS

August 2, 1952 – December 28, 2018

Warren S. Grundfest, MD, FACS, was recognized internationally as an unparalleled scientist, surgeon, physician, inventor and biomedical engineer whose work in minimally invasive surgery improved and saved the lives of countless patients.  He was also celebrated for his pioneering work in laser research and development as well medical ethics at a national policy level.

After Dr. Grundfest earned his Bachelors of Science degree from Swarthmore College (1974), he studied  Neurophysiology and Biochemistry with the Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Kandel at Columbia University (1974-76) and received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (1980).  Dr. Grundfest conducted his internship and general surgery residency at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) (1980-82) and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (1983-85). After serving for many years as a physician and surgeon, Dr. Grundfest was awarded the Dorothy and E. Phillip Lyon Endowed Chair in Laser Research and Development (1991–2001) at Cedars-Sinai.   Early in his career, Dr. Grundfest was best known for his cutting edge work on the excimer laser for medical applications.

In addition to being a professor in the Department of Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA in 1985, he returned to UCLA full time as Chairman of a new program and subsequently, the Department of  Biomedical Engineering at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering & Applied Science (1999) where he remained a senior professor until his death on December 28, 2018.  Dr. Grundfest was also a member of the UCLA Brain Research Institute and the California NanoSystems Institute.  Above all, Dr. Grundfest was respected and beloved by the legion of undergraduates, graduate students, MD/PhD students and post-doctoral fellows he mentored throughout their education and often, their careers.

In addition to holding two dozen patents and an additional half dozen provisional patents, Dr. Grundfest published dozens of book chapters and authored more than three hundred articles in scholarly publications and proceedings.   In addition to teaching numerous courses in medicine and bioengineering, he gave hundreds of lectures all over the world during his forty year career.  Dr. Grundfest served as a longstanding consultant and advisor to governmental entities such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) as well as a Senior Scientist and Director of the West Coast Field Office for the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Dr. Grundfest was a senior member of numerous scholarly and professional societies, including the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE), the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons, the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), the Society of Photo Instrumentation and Electrical Engineers (SPIE), the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers (AIMBE), to name but a few.  Dr. Grundfest was a recipient of the Pierre Galletti Award from the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the AIMBE’s highest honor.  This coveted award recognizes an individual’s “contributions to public awareness of medical and biological engineering, and to the promotion of the national interest in science, engineering and education.”

“Dr. Grundfest was a founding member of the board of Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics (SBMT) and Brain Mapping Foundation (BMF), 3rd President of the organization, and the recipient of the Pioneer in Medicine award from the Society and the Foundation in 2006. He played a significant role in SBMT-BMF legislation committee, which was working closely with White House Office of Science Technology and Policy (OSTP) and the NIH in order to shape and formulation the President Obama’s BRAIN initiative, the White House Photonic Initiative and Neuroscience-20 Global BRAIN initiative of the G20 summit.”

To his family and friends, Dr. Grundfest was known as an avid skier, a gourmet cook, a photographer, a mountain climber and hiker, as well as a maker of fine jewelry.  His other passions included classical music, a deep love of animals and a lifelong commitment to a myriad of environmental and human rights causes.

Warren Grundfest, born in Little Rock, AR on August 2, 1952, grew up in Belleville, NJ as a member of a family devoted to the practice of medicine.  His father, Jack, was chief of surgery at several area hospitals, his uncle Philip was a well-known OB-GYN, his aunt Rose (Schneider) was a professor at the University Texas Medical School in Galveston, and his uncle Harry was professor of neurophysiology at Columbia University, in New York; and his older sister, Sharon Grundfest-Broniatowski, MD is  a staff surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of  Medicine at CWRU, where she is an Assoc. Professor of Surgery in the general surgery department (Lerner College of Medicine at CWRU, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH). Dr. Grundfest is survived by his wife Andrea K. Scott, formerly an archeologist and for the past thirty years an attorney and bioethicist living in Los Angeles, and his mother, Karolyn S. Grundfest of Belleville.

An open memorial service in celebration of Dr. Grundfest’s life and tireless service to the Los Angeles community will be held on Saturday, February 23, 2019 from 1:00pm at the Tamkin Auditorium, B-130 (lower level) in the Ronald Reagan Medical Center at 757 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Reception to follow. If you have questions, please contact Stacey Tran Fong at the Engineering School (tel 310/794-5072  and ). 

Please RSVP by clicking HERE. RSVPs will be close Friday, February 15th, 2019.

Family Contact:
Andrea K. Scott, Esquire
10134 Baywood Court
Los Angeles, CA 90077
Tel: (310)777-7788