עם תחושה עמוקה של אובדן אנו מודיעים על פטירתו של המורה היקר והמכובד , פרופסור ג'ו (יוסף) אברמסון בגיל 92. פרופ' אברמסון הוא בעל שם עולמי לאפידמיולוגיה ורפואה קהילתית. ספרי הלימוד שלו "Making Sense of Data" ו- "Research Methods in Community Medicine" משמשים דורות של תלמידים ומורים בכל רחבי העולם כמו התוכנה הסטטיסטית החופשית שלו עבור אפידמיולוגים, WinPepi. אנו מזמינים את הבוגרים היקרים שלנו לחלוק זיכרונות וניחומים אותם נאסוף ונעביר למשפחתו.
מצורפים הספדים של פרופ' ג'רמי קרק, פרופ' יהודה ניומרק, פרופ' חיים גופין ופרופ' רוזה גופין, וקורות חיים מקוצרים של פרופ' אברמסון.
ההספד של פרופ' ג'רמי קרק 19 לפברואר 2017:
קשה להיפרד מג'ו.
מותו מציין סוף עידן של דור הנפילים, שהניחו את היסודות לבריאות הציבור המודרנית בישראל. תרומתו של ג'ו – הקונצפטואלית והמתודולוגית - הייתה ללא שיעור.
ג'ו ניחן בכישרון נדיר שבלט כבר בצעירותו, כאשר סיים את בית הספר התיכון כבר בגיל 15.
ג'ו היה ענק, אחרון הקבוצה המוכשרת של אנשי רפואה/בריאות הציבור, שעלתה מדרום אפריקה לישראל בסוף שנות החמישים ותחילת שנות השישים,ושהביאו עמם את הניסיון העשיר שצברו בדרום אפריקה. היכרותי את ג'ו ואשתו הראשונה הייחודית אלינור ז"ל, אמם של לארי, צבי וקארה, חוזרת לשנות החמישים של המאה הקודמת בדרום אפריקה.
ג'ו היה אחד האפידמיולוגים הבולטים בדורו בקנה מידה עולמי, אך נותר אדם צנוע ביותר.
הוא היה Autodidact עם אינטליגנציה מבחינה וחדה.
ג'ו הגיע לתחום די במקרה – תכנן להיות דרמטולוג אך מורין דייל ז"ל ( Maureen Daleשבעצמה הייתה מוכשרת ביותר ומחברת של ספר לימוד מפורסם בפרמקולוגיה), שכנעה אותו להצטרף לקבוצה בהנהגתו של סידני קרק. כעבור שישים שנה הפכה מורין לאשתו.
ג'ו היה עדין נפש, אך בנושאים מקצועיים היה חד כתער. תמיד ראיתי בו את המנטור שלי, ומקור להשראה.
ייתכן שתרומתו העיקרית של ג'ו היא בחינוך דורות של אנשי בריאות הציבור/אפידמיולוגים במשך מעל לחמישים שנה. הוא היה מורה דגול. ספרי הלימוד של ג'ו – Making Sense of Data ו- Research/Survey Methods in Public Health ששזורים בהומור דק אופייני, הם קלסיקה שהוא משאיר אחריו, כמו גם המגנום אופוס שלו PEPI - תוכנות סטטיסטיות לאפידמיולוגים - שעברו אבולוציה במשך 40 שנה. אפילו אחרי גיל 90 ג'ו המשיך לעדכן תוכנות מורכבות ביותר. יכולת מדהימה.
ג'ו היה חסיד התפיסה של COPC - רפואה ראשונית המכוונת לקהילה – וקידם ופיתח תפיסה זאת שכיום מוצאת ביטוי בפרקטיקה של קופות החולים בארץ ובעולם.
הוא היה איש משפחה חם ואוהב, וידיד טוב.
ג'ו יחסר לנו מאוד.
ההספד של פרופ' יהודה ניומרק 19 לפברואר 2017:
According to Jewish tradition, ones' devoted disciples are considered as one's offspring, and a devoted disciple is expected to show his/her mentor the same degree of respect as to a parent. So, we, Professor Abramson's disciples, join the Abramson Family in mourning the passing of a giant of epidemiology and community medicine.
Although Henry Adams, the American historian, died almost exactly 100 years ago, he certainly had Professor Abramson in mind when he said "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops".
Prof was such a humble and unpretentious person, yet his influence continues to spiral outward in ever widening circles across the globe. The Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine has graduated over 2000 students, and the vast majority learned epidemiology and research methods with Professor Abramson's books. Many had the unforgettable experience of having him as their teacher, and a few had the privilege of having Prof as their thesis or PhD advisor. I don't have precise numbers, but I know that many of our graduates have gone on to teach epidemiology here in Israel and in nearly 100 countries worldwide, and the "blue bible", as Making Sense is referred to by some students, remains a core component of their teaching curriculum. His WINPEPI programs also became an integral tool in his students' epidemiology toolbox, and until just recently, he was still updating and expanding the software – he released the last update in August 2016 but according to his family, he continued to work on it until just a couple of months ago.
He retired from teaching at the age of 89!
One of Professor Abramson's defining qualities was his unwavering demand for methodological rigor, and his insistence that we identify and admit possible sources of error or bias, and consider how they might influence our understanding of the data and their implications in generalizing and applying research findings. It is thanks to his conviction, which was shared by others such as his mentor Prof. Sidney Kark, that all students of public health must become acquainted with the basic tools and concepts of investigative methods, whether or not they will be personally engaged in research activities, that all graduates of our MPH program carry with them a well-stocked methodology toolbox that allows them to successfully identify, quantify and contend with the public health challenges they face in the "field".
25 years ago, Prof wrote a chapter in a book on Teaching epidemiology inside and outside the classroom [Olsen & Trichopoulus, 1992] , and in considering the choice of teaching methods, he spoke to the educational objectives of the teaching program, practical considerations, and to the students' interests and preferences. He stressed that objectives must be adapted to the needs of different students and to the requirements of the population in which the students will eventually work. He concluded: "no teaching programme can be regarded as the single best one for universal application to a given category of students" and he cautioned that in every group there will be some students who require more hand-holding than others", embracing the proverb "Train a child in the way appropriate for him, and when he becomes older, he will not depart from it" [Proverbs 22:6].
Professor Abramson was also a proponent of self-instruction, about which he wrote in that same chapter: "it nurtures the capacity to learn in a self-directed way, an invaluable skill for all students. Unless students have this skill they will cease to learn when they complete their formal tuition". Indeed, "The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see" [Internet-quote ascribed to Alexandra Trenfor].
And finally, in that chapter, Prof addressed teaching epidemiology in an unfavorable climate (referring to some classes of medical students), and wrote: "it needs only a few students to become interested in community health care or epidemiological research to make these efforts worthwhile, or at least to seem to, to a teacher who may otherwise find his work frustrating". It is often said, "A good teacher inspires hope, ignites the imagination, and instills a love of learning.
Well Dear Professor Abramson, you certainly inspired, and more than just a few students.
I am very glad that we recently had the opportunity to express our deep gratitude and respect to Professor Abramson for his decades of contribution to public health research and practice, in Israel and worldwide. In May 2015, he was awarded the " Life Achievement Award" at the Annual Conference of the Israel Association of Public Health Physicians and Schools of Public Health, and in November 2015, he was awarded at the Braun School's Israeli alumni conference. On both occasions, upon being informed of the decision to bestow upon him a small token of appreciation, his reaction was one of humility and modesty. All of us have much to learn from our dear mentor and teacher, who despite his brilliant accomplishments, maintained his unassuming nature!
It is traditional to end a eulogy with the phrase תהא נשמתו צרורה בצרור החיים – which is traditionally interpreted as: May his soul be bound up, or cherished, for eternal life. My personal interpretation of this is: May his soul be cherished by those who are alive and who were inspired by his life.
ההספד של פרופ' חיים גופין ופרופ' רוזה גופין 19 לפברואר 2017:
Family, friends, colleagues…… from Rosa and myself:
We started our relation with Joe in the early seventies both of us as students in the International MPH Program at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine of Hadassah and The Hebrew University. Later on, as members of the Team of the Department of Social Medicine we humbly say that we were colleagues and friends of the person that had a tremendous impact on our professional life. At this moment we don’t know how to talk about his wisdom, his great scientific achievements in Epidemiology, his worldwide recognition.
Joe’s trajectory as a gifted teacher, as the Head of the Department of Social Medicine, as the leading and precise author in the writing manuscripts we shared, thru minimum words with maximum content, emphasizing the value of facts in Public Health, he was always a guide, an advisor and a mentor. And when needing encouragement at the beginning of our teaching function, he would say: “remember you know more about that subject than the students you teach”…
When I was asked to be the Director of the Community Health Center in Kiryat Yovel (Hadassah Ktana) Joe was at the time the Head of the Department of Social Medicine…in that period of 9 years, the professional and academic relationship with Joe became more interwoven with the personal level…relationship that evolved closer in teaching, in administrative decisions, in research, in publications and always having his support and guidance.
Those were years in which the sharing of his experience in Pholela, South Africa, was interrelated with what we learnt from SL Kark and E Kark…
In other particular aspect of Joe’s work, his books were translated into many languages and with multiple editions. The Books for many generations of students in which the scientific content were/are preceded by sophisticated sense of humor and pertinent passages of “Alice in Wonderland”. In the chapter on “Epidemiology in Community Health” he wrote for our book, he concluded it with a “FINAL QUIZ” and the Question is “Is Epidemiology the basic science of Community Health” and he gave only one option: “Yes”.
Joe always had a kin interest in knowing about the International developments of Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) developed in Pholela and in Jerusalem and on our personal experiences in those endeavors, which we shared at our visits to his home. We were unable to share with him the latest developments in Catalunya, where COPC is being taken by the Health Authorities as the approach to be implemented in the whole region. We think he would have been proud of it.
At some point in time, we fear some phone calls.
And that was the case when Zvi called yesterday. A deep sense of sadness involved us. But as our oldest son, upon learning that Joe was no longer with us said, “He was one of the reasons you are here and not in Uruguay”.
Life continues when in his course there was creation, like the legacy that Joe leaves to us, to his family and those people who learnt so much from him personally and through his writings.
THANK YOU JOE.
וקורות חיים מקוצרים של פרופ' אברמסון:
PROFESSOR JOSEPH HERBERT ABRAMSON (1924-2017)
Professor Joseph H. Abramson (1924-2017) began his life in Johannesburg, South Africa. He completed his BSc (1942) and MBBCh (1947) at the prestigious Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg. Following his clinical graduation, and three years of hospital appointments and general practice, Prof. Abramson began what would be his life-long work in social medicine and public health, with a two year training course at the Institute of Family and Community Health, Durban, South Africa. For the next 11 years (1950-1961), during the Apartheid Era of South Africa’s history, Prof. Abramson worked as a Medical Officer, Family Physician and, from 1960-1961, as Senior Family Physician and Acting Head of the Institute. During this time, Prof. Abramson lectured at the Department of Sociology and Social Work and was appointed Clinical Tutor, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and, from 1960-1961, Head of the Department of Social, Preventive and Family Medicine, University of Natal. The Institute, pioneered and led by the late Prof. Sidney Kark, was home to a revolution in population-level primary health care, serving rural, urban and peri-urban African, Coloured, European and Indian communities in rural Pholela, now Kwa-Zulu Natal. (Howard Philipps, The Return of the Pholela Experiment, Medical History and Primary Health Care in Post-Apartheid South Africa, American Journal of Public Health, October 2014, Vol. 104, No. 10)
Prof. Abramson left South Africa and immigrated to Israel with his wife, Elinor, and family in 1961 joining the Department of Social Medicine, Hebrew University Medical School (Jerusalem) – the Department founded by Prof. Sidney Kark that has become The Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine. Prof. Abramson had a prodigious publishing history: textbooks notably 'Making Sense of Data' and "Research Methods in Community Medicine", articles and statistical software, which continue to inspire teachers, students, researchers and practitioners around the world. Prof. Abramson retired as Professor of Social Medicine in 1992 but continued as Emeritus Professor to teach epidemiology and statistics to Israeli and international students until close to his 90th birthday.
Prof. Abramson passed away peacefully on Friday February 17, 2017 in his home in Jerusalem, surrounded by his children and grandchildren.
May his memory be a blessing.