October 16, 2003

IN MEMORIAM: Jon Isenberg, M.D.

Jon Isenberg, M.D., professor emeritus of medicine at the UCSD School of Medicine and an internationally recognized gastroenterologist noted for his work in peptic ulcer disease, died peacefully at his La Jolla home on Friday, October 10, of cancer. He was 66. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held Saturday, October 18th, at the UCSD Faculty Club, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Jon was the ultimate academician, excelling in research, teaching and clinical medicine,” said Ken Kaushansky, M.D., chair of the UCSD department of medicine. “He was nationally and internationally recognized for his leadership in his field. I will miss Jon's caring nature; he was one of the first faculty members to welcome me to San Diego, and our lunch together two years ago, as well as our numerous conversations since, remain vivid in my mind.”

"Jon was a superb clinician, educator and scientist -- the consummate ‘triple threat’. But perhaps his most lasting legacy will be the impact he had on a whole generation of GI fellows and junior faculty, like myself,” said Kim Barrett, Ph.D., professor of medicine at UCSD.  “At the peak of his career, Jon could have a brusque exterior, but he was always kind when it counted.  I am honored to have been able to count him as a mentor and friend." 


A Chicago native, Isenberg earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Illinois, and served his residency in medicine in Miami and Chicago before moving to California as a fellow in gastroenterology at the Wadsworth VA in Los Angeles.  After serving in the military, he joined the faculty at UCLA, rising quickly to professor. He joined the UCSD faculty in 1979 as professor of and chief of the division of gastroenterology, retiring in 2002 and returning to work as a professor emeritus. His career included working as a visiting scientist at the Karolinska Hospital and Institute, and the Uppsala University Biomedical Center in Sweden,


Isenberg’s area of research was understanding the physiology and pathology of intestinal ion transportation. He published well over 180 papers on this and related subjects in prestigious biomedical journals. He was an outstanding clinician, listed in "America's Top Doctors" on several occasions, and served as a mentor to countless fellows and faculty members.

Isenberg was nationally and internationally recognized for his leadership in his field, playing a major role in the governance of the American Gastroenterological Association, including serving as its 95th president. He also served on the National Digestive Disease Advisory Board, was elected president of the Western Association of Physicians, and was editor of “Viewpoints of Digestive Diseases.” He was a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

Isenberg is survived by his wife, Brigitta A. Mårtensson, and his children, Nancy, of Highland Park, New Jersey; Noah, of Brooklyn, New York, and Rebecca Porter, of La Jolla, California, and brother, Steve, of Highland Park, Illinois.

In lieu of flowers, the family provided some charitable options:

The Isenberg Endowed Fellowship – Checks should be made to the UC San Diego Foundation noting fund #3585, and sent to the UCSD Foundation, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0940.

Spirit of Casa, Inc., P.O. Box 469, La Jolla, 92038, note the check is in memory of Dr. Jon Isenberg. These funds will be used to further the education of a young woman who was one of Dr. Isenberg’s caregivers.

Noah Isenberg is running in the upcoming New York Marathon in honor of his father as a member of Fred’s Team, runners who raise money for cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. To make a donation go to the website http://fredsteam.mskcc.org/fundraising/Controller and search for team member Noah Isenberg.

The endowed Mentors Research Scholarship Award, American Gastroenterological Association, 4930 Del Ray Ave., 4th Floor, Bethesda, MD 20814, note the check is in memory of Jon Isenberg.

News Media Contact:
Leslie Franz
619-543-6163

UCSD Health Sciences Communications HealthBeat: http://health.ucsd.edu/news/