Einstein/Montefiore Department of Medicine

Lawrence J. Brandt, MD, Honored by His Medical School Alma Mater

Larry Brandt
(R-L) Lawrence J. Brandt, MD, accepts Downstate's Alumni Achievement Medallion for Distinguished Service to American Medicine from Board of Trustees executive Richard Sadovsky MD, MS

Much has happened in Dr. Lawrence J. Brandt's illustrious career since he graduated 50 years ago from SUNY Downstate Medical College in Brooklyn. And his accomplishments as a pioneer and innovative thinker in the field of gastroenterology have not gone unnoticed.

Earlier this month, the Downstate Alumni Association awarded Dr. Brandt, who is now Emeritus Chief of Gastroenterology and a Professor in the Departments of Medicine (GI) and Surgery at Einstein and Montefiore, its Alumni Achievement Medallion for Distinguished Service to American Medicine. The award ceremony was held on May 6, 2018, in Brooklyn.

“There were many brilliant people in my medical school,” Dr. Brandt recalled recently. “The fact that I was chosen from among many people who were far smarter than I is a validation of my contributions and dedication to teaching and research.”

Dr. Brandt came to Montefiore in 1974, when there was a dearth of scientific evidence to back up a clinical practice in GI medicine.

“Now, it’s a very science-oriented specialty,” he noted.

Known as one of the masters of gastroenterology, particularly with vascular diseases and ischemic diseases of the GI tract, Dr. Brandt has gained worldwide for his extraordinary work.

Among his most notable accomplishments, Dr. Brandt pioneered the use of colonoscopic fecal transplantation to treat recurring C. difficile colitis, a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the colon that commonly affects older adults in hospitals and long-term care facilities, typically after they are treated with antibiotics.

“It’s a nice feeling to see how widespread and popular fecal transplantation has become,” Dr. Brandt noted.

Another highlight of Dr. Brandt's career has been his work on classifying colon ischemia -- when blood flow to the colon (part of the large intestine) is reduced, usually due to narrowed or blocked arteries (blood vessels) -- and showing how therapy and prognosis can vary with the site of colon involved.

Dr. Brandt’s other notable achievements include:

  • performed the first endoscopic removal of a gastric polyp 
  • demonstrated that in small bowel bacterial overgrowth states, gastrointestinal bacteria may inhibit vitamin B12 absorption
  • showed that most cases of newly diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in elderly patients are actually ischemic colitis misdiagnosed as ulcerative or Crohn’s colitis 
  • established that metronidazole can heal perineal Crohn's disease
  • developed and patented a cytology balloon to diagnose esophagitis in AIDS patients 
  • classified ischemic colitis and elucidated that isolated right-sided ischemic colitis has a worse prognosis than in other locations.
Larry Brandt2
Larry Brandt, MD

Born and raised in the Bronx, Dr. Brandt came from a middle-class family. His father ran a beauty and medical supply company founded by his grandfather; his mother was the executive secretary to the head of Columbia Pictures. Young Larry knew early on that he wanted a career in medicine. After graduating from DeWitt Clinton HS and then City College, he enrolled in medical school at Downstate; his brother took over the family business. During his internship in medicine at Mount Sinai, Dr. Brandt took an elective in GI and, soon after, abandoned his initial plan to become a surgeon.

“The GI service was so wonderful,” Dr. Brandt recalled. He was offered a GI fellowship upon completion of his one-month rotation, and after residency and one year of GI fellowship served in the Army as a gastroenterology specialist stationed in Stuttgart, Germany. After his honorable discharge from the military, he joined the staff of Montefiore. He served as Chief of Gastroenterology from 2000-2009.

Beloved Mentor and Teacher, Caring Physician

Over the years, Dr. Brandt has mentored scores of medical students, residents, and fellows. Each year, he oversees six residents who rotate through the GI service, as well as four GI fellows.

Dr. Olga Aroniadis, a GI attending and clinical researcher, attributes her career development and growth as a physician to Dr. Brandt. “I’ve stayed here largely because of his mentorship,” she said, noting that Dr. Brandt has mentored her since her third year of medical school, through her residency (she served as chief resident) and GI fellowship, to the present. “He’s a very thoughtful and caring physician. Patients adore him.”

When he’s not overseeing endoscopies or conducting clinical trials, Dr. Brandt travels the world, often as a visiting professor at institutions throughout the United States and abroad. He has presented over 700 lectures nationally and internationally, sometimes in Spanish, and is an honorary member of both the Argentine and Dominican Republic's Societies of Gastroenterology. He was inducted into Einstein’s Leo M. Davidoff Society in 1990, in recognition of his many years of excellence in teaching, and was the Montefiore Staff and Alumni Association's Honoree in 1999. In 2007, the Montefiore house staff named him Best Teacher in the Department of Medicine. He has been listed in Best Doctors in America every year since 1994 and in Who's Who in America since 1998.

Dr. Brandt has served on the editorial boards of numerous peer-reviewed journals and has written or edited more than 350 scientific publications and six books. He is one of three editors of the “Bible” of Gastroenterology, Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, now in its 11th edition (expected publication date 2020).

 

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