Charles Rubin, MD, Pediatric Cancer Specialist, Dies at 62

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Charles M. Rubin, MD

Charles M. Rubin, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medicine, a highly respected specialist in the care of children with cancer, died on July 17. He was 62.

An authority on all aspects of pediatric cancers, Dr. Rubin had a particular interest in brain tumors and cancer occurring in children with genetic syndromes. He combined considerable experience in basic laboratory research on the genetics of cancer with broad clinical expertise and a talent for informing, calming, comforting, motivating, and inspiring patients and their families.

Colleagues Remember Him

“I can’t put into words how much I respected him,” said his colleague Tara Henderson, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Childhood Cancer Survivors Center at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital. “He was amazingly knowledgeable, compassionate and thoughtful—traits at the core of our program. I take his influence with me as I care for my patients.”

The Head of Pediatrics remembered Dr. Rubin for his trusted guidance and his ability to put patients and colleagues at ease. “Chuck was highly respected by his research and clinical colleagues and was a popular mentor, not only for many medical students and pediatric residents, but also for fellows and junior faculty,” said John Cunningham, MD, Donald N. Pritzker Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University. “Even his senior colleagues sought his ideas and counsel frequently on complex pediatric oncology and hematology problems.”

“Chuck Rubin was one of the finest individuals I have ever known,” said ­Michelle Le Beau, PhD, Director of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center. “He was a consummate academician and physician who blended compassion and sensitivity with brilliant clinical acumen. His dedication to his family, his patients, and the University of Chicago was selfless and unparalleled. It was a privilege to work with him and an honor to learn from his example.”

Long Affiliation With University of Chicago

Dr. Rubin earned his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1979. He completed his pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 1982, followed by a fellowship in pediatric hematology/­oncology at the University of Minnesota in 1985.

He came to the University of Chicago in 1985 as a cytogenetics and molecular biology fellow in the laboratory of Janet Rowley, MD, an internationally recognized pioneer in understanding the genetics of cancer. Dr. Rubin joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine and a member of the University’s Cancer Research Center in 1987. In 1991, he and Funmi Olopade, MD, cofounded the University’s nationally recognized Cancer Risk Clinic.

Although he continued to work closely with his basic science colleagues, contributing to more than 50 original reports in academic journals, his interests increasingly focused on patient care.

At the same time, he took on several administrative roles. He served as Course Director for pediatric grand rounds and the medical center’s pediatric tumor board. He directed the pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship for 7 years and the pediatric neuro-oncology program for 10 years. He also volunteered for medical staff positions in various educational and rehabilitative summer camps for children with cancer.

Dr. Rubin also was a leader in the University of Chicago Medicine’s efforts to take a research-driven approach to pediatric cancer care into the community, serving as Director of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Outreach since 2008.

Dr. Rubin is survived by his wife, Gretchen; their four daughters, Elizabeth, Jane, Lucy, and Claire; brothers Michael, Peter, and Richard; and many nieces and nephews.

Donations may be made to the Charles M. Rubin Memorial Fund, Department of Pediatrics, University of Chicago, 5721 S. Maryland Ave, Chicago, IL 60637. ■