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In Memoriam Mitchell Fink

Tue, 11/24/2015

In Memoriam Mitchell Fink, 1948 – 2015

Mitchell P. Fink, MD, one of the most inspiring and influential leaders in the field of intensive care medicine, died at 66 years of age on November 17th after being diagnosed this summer with an aggressive sarcoma. This devastating news has left many of us with a huge sense of loss and sadness. Mitch came to the University of Pittsburgh in 1999 where he subsequently became the inaugural chair of the Department of Critical Care Medicine.

During his career, Mitch cared for thousands of patients with skill and compassion, amassed a great body of experimental and clinical research, trained and mentored hundreds of physicians and scientists, demonstrated wonderful entrepreneurship, and carved a vision of modern multidisciplinary critical care with lasting benefits for our entire field. For decades, academic medicine has praised the rare individual who excels as the so-called triple threat: teacher, clinician, and scientist. Mitch was all three and more, adding to these triple roles the rare gift of visionary leader in both academia and industry.

In our daily contact with Mitch, we saw not only his intellect and drive, but also his warmth, compassion, wit, and grace. His door was always open, ready to listen to everyone from senior colleagues to junior residents and new staff. He had words of kindness and advice to coach us through every disappointment and words of praise and respect for every accomplishment. 

— Derek C. Angus, MD, MPH, FRCP


“Truly a giant in the field, Mitch had an amazing intellect and was able to rapidly grasp the fundamental issues and promise of an array of scientific questions. A clear thinker and a real gentleman. I will greatly miss him. The world just became a lesser place now that he is no longer with us.”

— Steven Opal, MD
Chief, Infectious Disease Division, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island
Professor of Medicine, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University


“Mitch was such an amazing mentor. We sent him fellows to mentor in basic science sepsis research when he was at the Beth Israel Hospital in the 1990s. Most had no prior research experience and had difficulty choosing a research path. We worried that they would not be able to finish their required research project to take their critical care boards. He took an optimistic view and was very supportive. He was able to turn things around for them and they successfully published a first author paper. More importantly, he restored their self-esteem which had been eroded with negativity instead of guidance. I learned from this and it strongly influenced how I managed my research mentees. Mitch positively influenced so many people’s lives.”

— Adrienne G. Randolph, MD, MSc
Senior Associate in Critical Care Medicine
Director, Immunobiology of Critical Illness Laboratory & Department of Anesthesia, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA
Professor of Anaesthesia and Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA


”Mitch was such a wonderful and friendly colleague and a truly outstanding clinical scientist. He will be deeply missed by our community.”

— Thierry Calandra
Professor & Head of the Department of Medicine
Chief, Infectious Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital


“We lost one of our giants in the field who contributed a lot to make intensive care a discipline in its own rights. He was such a bright thinker, and it was a pleasure to work with him over such a long time.”

— Prof. Dr. Konrad Reinhart, ML
Director, Dep. for Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Jena University Hospital
Chairman, Global Sepsis Alliance


“Mitch was a giant in critical care and sepsis and a great friend and colleague. A true gentleman. He will be sorely missed.”

— Charles Sprung, MD, JD
Professor of Anesthesiology & Director, General Intensive Care Unit, Hebrew University Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem


“We will miss a great scientific colleague and a personal friend.”

— Prof. Jean-Louis Vincent
Professor of Intensive Care Medicine  (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
Dept of Intensive Care, Erasme Univ Hospital
President, World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine (WFSICCM)


“Mitch was there from the start as a leader amidst the rise of sepsis and associated molecular biology as the highest profiled area in our field. His knack for keeping all of us around the table focused on the ball was unequalled. He was a visionary in multispecialty critical care.”

— Phil Dellinger, MD, FCCM, FCCP
Chair and Chief, Department of Medicine, Cooper University
Director, Cooper Adult Health Institute


"I met Mitch 25 years ago at a journal club in Worcester and he has been a valued friend, colleague, and inspiration ever since. Always willing to chat and interested in moving Critical Care forward. He epitomized the very best in medicine. Mitch will be sorely missed and gratefully remembered."

 — William T. McGee, MD, MHA, FCCP, FCCM
President, Medical Staff
Pulmonary & Critical Care Division
Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery
Tufts University School of Medicine


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