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December 15, 2017

Obituary: Philip Troen

Philip Troen was left-handed, but when he got in front of a classroom to teach, he’d hold the chalk with his right hand, says his son, Bruce Troen, chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the University at Buffalo. “If you write with your left hand at the board, you’re often covering what you’ve written,” Troen had explained to his son. It was just one example of the practical, deliberate nature of the Pitt retired assistant dean and physician-in-chief emeritus. Philip Troen died Sept. 1, 2017.

Born in Portland, Maine, on Nov. 24, 1925, Troen left his hometown at age 15 to attend Harvard College for his undergraduate studies and medical education. He joined the Pitt’s School of Medicine in 1964 as professor of medicine and chief of medicine at what’s now UPMC Montefiore, beginning a 50-year career in which he shaped medical education at Pitt.

One of Troen’s Montefiore interns from 1975, E.J. Donnelly (Res ’78), now a retired internist, remembers the “morning report,” when they’d sit at a round table and present cases. “That was a great learning experience. … He asked excellent questions.”

Troen copiloted the integrated case studies course at the School of Medicine in 1992, introducing students to mock patient cases. Paula Clemens — professor of neurology, microbiology and molecular genetics, pediatrics, and human genetics — led the course with Troen and says his commitment to the scholarly process stuck with her as a teacher of med students. “He had a willingness to accept all that it took to develop clinicians.”

After becoming assistant dean of medicine in 2004, Troen led the design and implementation of the Scholarly Research Project, now a model for medical schools seeking to integrate research into their curricula.

Arthur Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine, said Troen was a skilled educator with an “infectious” passion for science.

The med school’s Philip Troen, MD, Excellence in Medical Student Research Mentoring Award recognizes a faculty advisor who excels at leading students through their Scholarly Research Projects.

This obituary appeared in the winter 2017 issue of Pitt Med magazine.


Filed under: Feature,Volume 50 Issue 9

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