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Rubenstein named director of pediatric allergy and pulmonary medicine division

Physician-scientist noted for expertise in cystic fibrosis

by Kristina SauerweinSeptember 4, 2020

Washington University

Ronald C. Rubenstein, MD, PhD, a highly regarded physician-scientist with expertise in cystic fibrosis, has been named director of the Division of Allergy and Pulmonary Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He began his new position Sept. 1.

Rubenstein comes from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and was director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center and scientific director of the Translational Core Laboratory at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he held an endowed chair in pediatrics.

At Washington University, he will continue his research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), on the molecular underpinnings of cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening, multi-organ, inherited disease that, in particular, can cause frequent lung infections and impaired breathing. Rubenstein also studies cystic fibrosis-related diabetes mellitus, a unique type of diabetes common in people with cystic fibrosis, as well as risk factors for hearing loss due to antibiotic therapies in cystic fibrosis. His basic-science research has provided the foundation for new therapies in cystic fibrosis and other lung conditions.

As part of his appointment, Rubenstein also will treat patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“Ron is a widely respected physician-scientist, mentor and educator who has devoted his career to improving the lives of children with cystic fibrosis and other pulmonary diseases,” said Gary A. Silverman, MD, PhD, the Harriet B. Spoehrer Professor and head of the Department of Pediatrics. “Washington University is thrilled that he will share his expertise, talents and leadership within the pediatric Division of Allergy and Pulmonary Medicine and throughout the Medical Campus.”

Rubenstein said he is eager to join Washington University’s highly collaborative culture.

“Washington University is well known for being a nurturing, collaborative and innovative institution for academic physician- scientists,” Rubenstein said. “I am deeply honored and very excited to join this community to focus and work on combating pediatric pulmonary diseases and improving children’s health.”

A native of upstate New York, Rubenstein earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1984 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During the early 1990s, he earned his medical degree and a doctorate in pharmacology from the Medical Scientist Training Program of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

He completed his residency in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and his fellowship training in pediatric pulmonary diseases in at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, after which he became an instructor of pediatrics there.

In 1998, Rubenstein joined the faculty at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he rose through the ranks to become a tenured professor of pediatrics and is now a professor emeritus of pediatrics.

In addition to his research and academic responsibilities, Rubenstein is chair of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Clinical Research Committee and a member of the foundation’s Medical Advisory Council. He has published widely, served in leadership roles for many scientific and medical organizations, and has received numerous awards and accolades.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.