Jewish Journal

Mitchell S. Karlan, Surgeon, 87

Posted on Apr. 30, 2014 at 9:36 am

Dr. Mitchell S. Karlan , a surgeon and leader in the medical community, died peacefully on April 24, surrounded by family. 

Born in Cleveland, Karlan served in the Air Force, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant, earning enough financial aid under the GI Bill to pay for 2 1/2 years of college, which is exactly how long it took him to graduate from Ohio State University, summa cum laude, valedictorian of his class and a member of the varsity tennis team, and where he met his future wife, Judith Tyroler. Karlan went on to earn his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed his medical training with a fellowship in surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. In 1961, Karlan and his wife moved to Los Angeles, where he practiced medicine for the next 50 years. 

Karlan was an instructor in the USC department of surgery for more than two decades and published more than 35 articles on surgical and oncologic subjects. He served on numerous boards, including as president and chairman of the board of the Los Angeles County Medical Association; chairman of the board of the Southern California Physicians Insurance Exchange (SCPIE); member of the board of trustees of the California Medical Association; chairman of the American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs; director of community resources, Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; board of governors, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; board of trustees and vice-speaker of the house of delegates, American Society of General Surgeons; and president of the Division of Licensing and chairman of the Medical Board of the State of California. In 1988, Karlan was named the American Cancer Society’s “Man of the Year.”

In addition to his wife of 58 years, Karlan is survived by his children Dr. Scott (Dr. Beth), Mark (Sylvia), Cindy and Craig (Alisa); and his grandchildren Matthew, Jocelyn, Jesse, Ryan, Jennifer, Joseph, Sydney and Dylan. Services were held April 28 at Hillside Memorial Park. Contributions can be made to the Mitchell S. Karlan M.D. Surgical Lectureship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by calling (323) 866-7763, or by sending an email to Ann McBride at McBrideA@cshs.org. 

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