News Release: School of Medicine

Sep. 20,  2011

Service for Dr. Paul Fernhoff, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011

News Article ImagePaul Fernhoff, MD, Associate Professor of Human Genetics and Pediatrics

A Message from Dean Thomas J. Lawley, MD

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the death of Dr. Paul M. Fernhoff, Associate Professor of Human Genetics and Pediatrics, on September 19, 2011. Dr. Fernhoff  was an outstanding pediatrician, clinical geneticist, and respected and beloved member of both the Emory and Atlanta communities for over 30 years.

Dr. Fernhoff began his illustrious medical career at Jefferson Medical College where he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha. He completed a pediatric residency at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and then moved to Atlanta where he spent two years with the Public Health Service at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Medical Genetics at Emory.  At the completion of this fellowship Dr. Fernhoff joined the Emory faculty in 1978.   

Dr. Fernhoff's entire career was devoted to improving infant and child health. His work helped to realize widespread screening of infants in the state for a myriad of genetic diseases with therapeutic interventions. As a result, countless children survived without the consequence of severe intellectual disability.  As medical director of the Lysosomal Storage Disease Center, he directed clinical trials to explore the roles of enzyme replacement and enhancement therapies for lysosomal storage diseases, a group of over 40 genetic diseases. These trials led to effective control of several of these disorders. Dr. Fernhoff was also extremely active in the greater Atlanta community. He served as Medical Director of the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen program, an initiative which provides carrier screening and reproductive options for young Jewish adults, and Medical Director of the Pediatric Program of Hospice Atlanta, one of the largest children's hospice programs in the country.

Throughout his career Dr. Fernhoff remained focused not only on preventing and treating illness, but also on the ethical issues posed by genetic testing. He worked closely with local and national organizations to assess the ethical implications of introducing genetic technologies into public health programs. In 2006 he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Chapter of the March of Dimes.  Dr. Fernhoff's attention to the ethical, social, and medical ramifications of his work underscores what an exemplary physician-scientist and reflective human being he truly was. His professional impact is overshadowed only by the extraordinary personal impact he had on patients, colleagues, students, and friends. His presence among us will be sorely missed.

Dr. Fernhoff is survived by his wife, Dr. Deborah Finkelstein Fernhoff; his daughter and son-in-law, Drs. Shana and David Cohen; his son, Dr. Nathaniel Fernoff; and his granddaughter, Talia Cohen. A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 10:30 am at Crest Lawn Memorial Gardens, 2000 Marietta Blvd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318.

In lieu of flowers, Dr. Fernhoff's family has requested donations be made to one of the following organizations:

Congregation Beth Jacob
1855 Lavista Rd
Atlanta GA 30329

Congregation Young Israel
2910 North Druid Hills Rd
Atlanta, 30329

Torah Day School, Atlanta
1985 Lavista Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30329

March of Dimes

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