Obituary: Bertram R. Girdany | Pioneer in pediatric radiology at Children's Hospital
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Bertram Girdany was a pioneer in the field of pediatric radiology who spent most of his medical career in Pittsburgh.
Dr. Girdany died at his home in Sarasota, Fla. on July 31. He was 93.
Originally from New York City, he served as a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II.
He did his undergraduate work at Columbia University, and went on to Johns Hopkins Medical School for his medical studies.
In 1950, the pediatrician and radiologist was hired by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh to establish its radiology department.
He went on to become chairman of the Department of Radiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and taught at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
In 1990, he retired and moved to Florida.
Dr. Girdany's work in the fields of pediatrics and radiology in the 1950s and '60s led to significant strides in documenting injuries caused by physical abuse and understanding battered child syndrome.
During his residency at Babies Hospital in New York City, he worked with John Caffey, who is considered to be the father of pediatric radiology and whose own pioneering research in the field inspired Dr. Girdany.
"That's what Dr. Caffey was well-known for. [Dr. Girdany] carried on that spirit," said Fred Lee, a Los Angeles physician.
Dr. Lee trained under Dr. Girdany, and stayed on to work with the teacher he respected. "He did not suffer fools gladly, but he was very warm beneath his austere demeanor, once you got to know him. He was very loyal to his trainees. I found him a tremendous mentor."
Shashikant Sane of Minneapolis also studied with Dr. Girdany. "He was a brilliant visionary and consummate radiologist. He took the radiology department to great heights. He also was an astute administrator. He was able to build a team. He had all those qualities, which made him a great teacher."
Many radiologists don't have much contact with patients, but Dr. Girdany always made time to meet with the patients and their families, so that they could ask questions and have a better understanding of the process.
"He really emphasized the personal touch," said his daughter, Martha Girdany of Falls Church, Va.
He focused most of his energy on his work.
"He loved what he did," Ms. Girdany said.
But he was also an avid reader and sports fan, his daughter said.
Ms. Girdany said her father's legacy extended beyond his contributions to the medical field. "He had a really good sense of what was right and wrong."
She recalled that he spoke out against Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anti-communist crusade in the 1950s. "He had a high sense of moral character. That was something he passed on to his children."
Besides his daughter, he is survived by two sons, David Girdany of Somerset and Paul Girdany of Mt. Lebanon, and two grandchildren.
Memorial contributions can be sent to: Tidewell Hospice, 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34238.
First Published August 13, 2012 12:00 am