Michael Ehrlich, 79, former chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and pioneering orthopedic surgeon, died July 21, in Providence.
Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, he was a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha. He completed an orthopedics residency and fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery. At the age of 32, Dr. Ehrlich joined Massachusetts General Hospital as chief of its new pediatric orthopaedic service and a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty. In 1990, he was recruited to Providence as the Vincent Zecchino, MD, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and chair at Brown as well as Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals. Dr. Ehrlich worked doggedly to build a world-class academic department, creating a division of research and shaping its residency program into one of the most selective in the country (see Brown Medicine, Spring 2011).
Over the course of his long and distinguished career, he received countless honors and awards including the Kappa Delta Award, the highest research award given by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He also received the Huene Award, the highest honor given by the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America. He was elected to several national positions, including the presidency of the Academic Orthopaedic Society as well as the Orthopaedic Research Society. He recently became an Inaugural Fellow of the Orthopaedic Research Society. Locally he received the Milton W. Hamolsky, MD, Outstanding Physician Award from Rhode Island Hospital and the W. W. Keen Award from the Brown Medical Alumni Association.
He was known for his tireless work ethic, signature bow ties, wry sense of humor, and love of sailing. His legacy will live on through the countless medical students, residents, and fellows he mentored; the success of the Department of Orthopaedics and University Orthopedics, its clinical practice; and the Michael G. Ehrlich, MD, Professorship in Orthopedic Research. He will also be remembered by the thousands of patients whose lives he touched as their physician.
Dr. Ehrlich is survived by his sons, Christopher and Timothy; their wives, Sara and Isabella; and five grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Nancy Band Ehrlich.
The Michael G. Ehrlich, MD, Fund for Orthopedic Research has been established to support his lifelong passion and commitment to medicine. Contributions to the fund can be made via the Rhode Island Foundation, rifoundation.org.