Former UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital CEO Bertram Lubin dies at 81

Photo of Bertram Lubin.
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland/Courtesy
Bertram Lubin, a longtime Berkeley resident and former CEO of the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, is remembered for his research in hematology-oncology.

Deemed “a great humanitarian” by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland where he served as president and CEO, Bertram Lubin died June 27 at the age of 81.

After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh’s medical school, Lubin served his country in Vietnam as a physician. Upon his return, he conducted a hematology-oncology fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Lubin then went back to work at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania, where he had previously completed a pediatric residency, as the director of the Hematology Laboratory and an assistant professor of pediatrics.

Two areas of interest drove the remainder of Lubin’s career: hematology-oncology, which involves the study of blood diseases and cancer, and his “tireless pursuit in helping disadvantaged children in the East Bay, as described by the current president and CEO of UCSF Health, Mark Laret, in a press release.

“Joining Children’s Hospital Oakland in 1973 as chief of Hematology/Oncology, Lubin launched the research program that became Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute,” states a press release from the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. “As a scientist, he was instrumental in numerous breakthroughs, particularly in blood diseases that disproportionately affect minorities, most notably sickle cell disease.”

Not only was his research key in identifying the cause of sickle cell disease symptoms, but it also led to legislation across the country requiring all newborns to be screened for the disease at birth.

After acting as president and CEO of the children’s hospital in Oakland for eight years and spearheading the association of the hospital with UCSF, Lubin stepped down in 2017 to become the associate dean of Children’s Health at UCSF. He remained an active member of the Oakland community, serving on the Oakland Mayor’s Health Task Force and the Oakland Promise, an initiative aimed to help every Oakland high school student graduate college with the financial support and mentors they may need.

“Bert played a critical role in launching the Oakland Promise,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in an email. “He embodied Oakland’s values of social and racial justice, and we will miss him dearly. We will honor his legacy by continuing his fight.”

Those who knew Lubin, including Shahan Soghikian, chair of the board of directors at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, described him as someone who “exuded empathy, understanding and concern for all children, families and his community.”

Lubin himself wanted to be known as someone who “cared about the underserved,” and knew his colleagues and staff on a first-name basis.

“It’s spiritual for me to walk in the door and have people really care about me,” Lubin said upon his retirement in 2018 according to the press release. “That makes me tick. It’s who I am. I want to be remembered as someone who was proud to be part of this family.”

Though Lubin is no longer able to make an active difference, the donations he made to countless foundations, the scientists he mentored and the organizations he was a part of plan to do just that.

According to the press release, Lubin left behind his wife Vivian Scharlach and his children, who have requested that donations be made in his name to the UCSF Center of Excellence for Immigrant Child Health and Wellbeing or the UCSF Center for Child and Community Health.

Contact Veronica Roseborough at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @v_roseborough.