We mourn the loss of Sheldon Saul Hendler, Ph.D., M.D., scientist, physician, musician, who died on November 12, 2012, in San Diego, CA. He was 76. He was born May 12, 1936, in Brooklyn, NY.
Dr Hendler attended Boys High School and went on to Columbia University where he received a Bachelor's degree and a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He conducted post-doctoral studies at UCSD and the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA, where he made seminal discoveries on the structure of the nucleosome and contributed to the development of the first antiviral drugs. After helping found the Medical School at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Tijuana, and chairing their first Department of Biochemistry, Dr. Hendler returned to complete his M.D. at UCSD and his medical residency at Mercy Hospital, San Diego. Later, he was affiliated with UCSD as a clinical professor of medicine. A brilliant biochemist, Dr Hendler was recognized as one of the leading authorities on micro nutrition, human physiology and the impact of diet and lifestyle upon health and disease. His patients benefited from the depth of his knowledge and his ability to customize treatments. During the early phases of the AIDS crisis he had one of the largest AIDS practices in California and was a prominent member of the San Diego Community Research Group. Out of this work he developed special approaches to treating HIV infection.
The author of over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts, Dr Hendler was the author of The Doctor's Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia, The Complete Guide to Anti-Aging Nutrients and The PDR for Nutritional Supplements among others. As founding editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Medicinal Food, Dr. Hendler pioneered a new level of scientific rigor in the field of nutritional science. Lecturer, educator, physician and scientific consultant, Dr Hendler has sat on the Scientific Advisory Board of Archer Daniels Midland, the Pharmacy Nutrition Advisory Board of the AARP and the US Olympic Science and Nutrition Subcommittee. As a practicing internist, Dr Hendler applied his encyclopedic knowledge of biochemistry to address the most profound mysteries of human metabolism to advance therapeutic options in patient care. Among his many achievements was the world's first description and biochemical characterization of an entirely new human disease, Elastoderma, described by Hendler and colleagues in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1985.
An accomplished musician and concert-level jazz trumpet player, Dr Hendler composed the original musical score for Jacob Bronowski's acclaimed 1973 television series "The Ascent of Man". He was kind, generous to a fault and thoughtful yet incisive and discriminating in his analyses. Dr Hendler's creative spirit and unique intellect reminded us, as Baudelaire said, that "Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recaptured at will".
Dr Hendler was preceded in death by his son, Seth. He is survived by his wife, Joyce, and their son, Ross.
Published in La Jolla Light on December 13, 2012