Creating a legacy is something few can accomplish. Former Editor-in-Chief of Pediatrics Dr Jerold F. (Jerry) Lucey, MD, FAAP, did so most admirably. Sadly, on December 10, 2017, Jerry Lucey died in Sarasota, Florida. With his passing, we lost a champion who led our journal for three-and-a-half decades. Jerry’s influence on all of us fortunate to know him and work with him is apparent in every issue we publish.
Jerry Lucey grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1948, and received his doctor of medicine degree at New York University College of Medicine in 1952. He did his internship at Bellevue Hospital and residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, and conducted research in newborn jaundice there and then at Harvard Medical School, triggering the start of his career as a neonatologist before formal fellowships existed in the field.
Jerry joined the faculty of the University of Vermont College of Medicine (now the University of Vermont Robert Larner, MD, College of Medicine) in 1956, rose to the rank of professor in 1967, and was named the Harry Wallace Professor of Neonatology in 1995. He was an active member of the department until his retirement in 2009, when he was named professor emeritus. His contributions to the field of neonatology are legendary and include the introduction into the United States of phototherapy, transcutaneous oxygen monitoring, and artificial surfactant therapy to treat respiratory distress of the preterm infant. Jerry was the founder and first president of the Vermont Oxford Network, a collaborative international health services outcomes network that today links >1200 neonatal intensive care nurseries. The Vermont Oxford Network has the largest neonatal database in the world and is recognized for its work in clinical trials, quality improvement, and neonatal health care provider education. Jerry authored more than 160 articles, many chapters, numerous editorials and commentaries, and also edited 6 books. He has made a lasting impact in our field of pediatrics, and his writings continue to be cited extensively by pediatricians today.
Jerry was the recipient of many of the most coveted honors and awards in pediatrics. These include the Virginia Apgar Award in Perinatal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Academy of Medicine Gustav O. Lienhard Award for Advancement of Health Care, the Alfred I. DuPont Award for Excellence in Children’s Health Care, and the John Howland Award. The Howland Award is the highest award given by the American Pediatric Society and is specifically for those who provide distinguished service to pediatrics as a whole. We can think of no one more deserving of this accolade than Jerry.
Despite his extraordinary achievements as a neonatologist, for many, Jerry Lucey will likely always be known as the longest-serving editor of our journal. For almost 35 years, he dedicated himself to overseeing the publication of the highest-quality peer-reviewed studies and opinion pieces on child health, with the goal of improving how we care for children and their families. For Jerry, being editor was not a job but a joy and passion that he always felt privileged to do.
With Jerry at the helm of Pediatrics, the journal’s circulation grew to record numbers, as did the number of studies submitted. During his time as editor-in-chief, more than 100 000 articles were received for peer review, and over 4000 were published. The journal became the most cited pediatric peer-reviewed journal in our field nationally and internationally and was the first and only child health journal to break into the top 100 of the more than 20 000 registered medical journals published.
Jerry’s passion for innovation carried over into our journal as well. He was a pioneer in using the Internet for disseminating Pediatrics articles by introducing e-pages (short for electronic pages), an idea that evolved into having all the content for each issue published online. He saw a need for sister publications to complement the journal and helped give birth to Pediatrics in Review, AAP Grand Rounds, and multiple international editions of the journal. His work made our journal the well-respected, innovative, and global publication it is today.
Yet in the setting of all of these accomplishments, Jerry loved being “just Jerry.” He loved teaching and learning about virtually everything from everyone. Medical students, residents, and fellows loved to visit with Jerry. He usually answered his phone himself, and his door was always open for anyone to just come in and chat with him. There was not a chocolate chip cookie he did not like or a Boston Celtics game he did not follow. Most of all, he loved his family and friends, and he considered those who were on our journal’s editorial board and staff to be part of that family.
The influence and inspiration of Jerry Lucey has had a profound and lasting impact on our journal and on the field of pediatrics (Figure 1). He lived his life seeing what others often could not; by creating, inventing, and inspiring, he dedicated his career to improving the health of children locally, nationally, and internationally. The number of infants, children, and families who have benefited and will continue to benefit from his numerous contributions and the number of people in pediatrics and child health who incorporate his discoveries and advances every day are what Jerry Lucey was and will always be about. His work as a scientist, an innovator, a visionary, and an extraordinary editor made him a legend. His role as a teacher, mentor, and friend made him a hero and role model to those of us who knew him and worked with him. His legacy persists not only in the journal but through what we do every day as pediatricians, which is something we believe Jerry Lucey would very much appreciate. We will miss him.
- Accepted December 18, 2017.
- Address correspondence to Lewis R. First, MD, MS, University of Vermont Robert Larner, MD College of Medicine, 89 Beaumont Ave, Given Courtyard S250, Burlington, VT 05405-0068. E-mail:
Opinions expressed in these commentaries are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the American Academy of Pediatrics or its Committees.
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: The authors have indicated they have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.
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- Copyright © 2018 by the American Academy of Pediatrics