Passing of Dr. James Garbern, member of the Scientific Committee of the ELA Foundation

Written on Wednesday 10 November 2010

jim_garbernDr. James Garbern, member of the Scientific Committee of the ELA Foundation and Professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center (NY, USA), passed away on November 10, 2011.

He was a brilliant physician and scientist profoundly dedicated to the patients and their families. He participated to several ELA families / scientists meetings in Paris where he fully interacted with the families. He was also very active with the foundation as member of the scientific committee and was conducting research work on Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD) supported by ELA.  He will be very much missed.

Our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.


In memoriam of James Garbern

A tribute to James Garbern by his colleagues, friends and patients’ families

James Garbern, M.D., Ph.D. will be sadly missed by his patients, their families, students, and scientific colleagues. While at Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, Dr. Garbern devoted much of his life and mental energies to diagnosing and helping patients with Pelizaeus Merzbacher Disease. Without a doubt, he loved his patients. I had the opportunity to watch and work with Jim as he interacted with patients here at Wayne State University, at an ELA meeting in France, and at PMD meetings here in the USA. While I sometimes entertained parents, Jim would beam when he pushed his boys around in wheelchairs and elicited laughs from them. He was as young at heart as the boys were. Parents were thrilled to know that if ever there was anyone concerned about the well-being of their child, it was Jim. He saw value in things that others might pass over, and that is why his patients and their families loved him. Besides being a superb physician, Jim was a geneticist, and he was closely involved in the diagnosis of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher cases. He published many articles and reviews in outstanding journals about this disease, and the protein that is responsible for causing it. Of course, he was interested in finding a cure for this disease, and considered different approaches for treatments-ranging from drugs to stem-cell therapies. Jim was also actively involved in teaching medical students at Wayne State University School of Medicine. His lecture notes were thorough and detailed, indicating his joy of teaching. He always volunteered to lecture. Jim’s cultural interests were wide-ranging, but somewhat esoteric. He introduced me to Mongolian throat singers by way of a DVD presented to me on my 60th birthday. Jim was a gentlemen and scholar.

Robert P. Skoff, Ph.D.
Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology
Wayne State University School of Medicine
Detroit, MI, USA

I am very sorry about this message. We had James Garbern at our ELA meeting in Italy last year and had been the most appreciated person for everybody, especially for parents. I am very sorry again.

Enrico Bertini
Member of the Scientific Committee of the ELA Foundation

I am very sad to hear this. Jim was indeed fully dedicated to patients and their parents and a brilliant scientist. We will miss him.

Patrick Aubourg
Member of the Scientific Committee of the ELA Foundation

I am very moved and absolutely sorry / shocked regarding Jim’s passing that was too quick.

Monique Dubois-Dalcq
Member of the Scientific Committee of the ELA Foundation

Our thoughts are with his family and friends as well as with the whole communities who appreciated his friendship and dedication to the cause of patients.

Anne Baron van Evercooren
Member of the Scientific Committee of the ELA Foundation

I am very sorry to hear about the passing of Jim Garbern. Jim was an excellent scientist and a compassionate person who truly cared about the families with these disorders. He will be missed.

David Wenger
Member of the Scientific Committee of the ELA Foundation

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to exchange emails with him regarding patients. He was always available for all of us. I think the small world of leukodystrophies can only pay tribute to him.

Odile Boespflug-Tanguy
Former member of the Scientific Committee of the ELA Foundation

We knew he was not doing well but we were not expecting things will go so quickly.
It is a great loss. He was in touch with several families in Spain and he always showed interest for each of them and provided excellent care to each of them. They are going to miss him very much.
At ELA Spain, we receive this news with deep sadness.

Giselle Martinez
ELA Spain