A Tribute to Jerome O. Klein, MD

February 10, 1931-February 17, 2021

On February 17, 2021, Dr. Jerome O. Klein, of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, died.  He was an outstanding educator, scientist, clinician, who was 90 years old at the time of his death.  At that time, he was Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).  During a career of more than 50 years, he was a highly respected, productive, and distinguished leader in pediatric infectious diseases.

Dr. Klein inspired generations of trainees and colleagues in Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases.  He was an inspiring person who took personal interest in those whose paths crossed his to provide mentoring, support, and guidance; each becoming part of his professional family.  He spent nearly all of his professional career at Boston City Hospital and Boston Medical Center (BMC) following in the footsteps of his mentor, Dr. Maxwell Finland.  He took exceptional pride in being able to care for his patients, to teach his medical students, residents and fellows and in being a role model for subsequent generations of physicians.  He was especially generous in giving of his time and knowledge to provide guidance for many of us throughout our careers.

Dr Klein had a national and international reputation as educator and scholar and was the recipient of the Distinguished Physician Award of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the Bristol Award for Distinguished Achievement of the IDSA, Clinician of the Year Award of the Massachusetts ID Society, Lifetime Achievement Award for Clinical Research of the Society of Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children, and the Maxwell Finland Award for Scientific Achievement from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, just to name a select few.

Dr. Klein was active in a number of organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society (PIDS), and the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA).  He was Editor of the 1982 Red Book of the AAP, and was Treasurer of the IDSA.  He also was a member of other major leadership committees, particularly the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee of the US Department of Health and Human Services.  He was a member of the Executive Committees of IDSA and PIDS.   Dr. Klein was also an associate editor of major scientific journals, specifically Clinical Infectious Disease Journal and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.  He had more than 500 publications including peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters and books on important topics such as infection in the newborn, otitis media, bacteremia, bacterial pneumonia, meningitis, Haemophilus influenzae and antimicrobial therapy. He co-authored a sentinel book, namely Infectious Diseases of the Fetus and Newborn Infants.

Dr. Klein earned his medical degree from Yale University in 1956 and completed his internship in Minneapolis.  He then served as a Senior Assistant Surgeon for the CDC before completing his residency training at Boston City Hospital in 1961.  He remained at Boston City Hospital, under the tutelage of Dr. Maxwell Finland, first as a Research Fellow in Infectious Diseases, Visiting Physician, and Associate Director in Pediatrics, until being named to the Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in 1977 at BUSM. A position he held until 1996.  He also was a lecturer at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Klein became an Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at BUSM when he retired in 2017.

In 2011, to honor his legacy and many contributions to Boston City Hospital and Boston Medical Center, the Jerome Klein Award for Physician Excellence was established.  This award is presented annually to a physician who shares Dr. Klein’s attributes, commitment and dedication as an outstanding mentor, clinician and/or physician scientist, leader and supportive of colleagues and trainees.  Dr. Klein was very well respected by his colleagues – his work family!  He was genuine, kind and truly an inspiration.  He was the eternal optimist.  He lived his life to the fullest and will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him

Dr. Klein was an avid tennis player and a devoted follower of his beloved Boston Red Sox.  He is survived by his wife Linda, their three children Andrea, Adam and Bennett and three grandchildren.  The family will have a private burial service.  We will have a celebration of Dr Klein’s life and career in the future, when gatherings are permitted.