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Mark Silverman


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ATLANTA: Mark Silverman, 69, top cardiologist and educator


Dr. Mark Silverman was the founding cardiologist of the Fuqua Heart Center at Piedmont Hospital, a medical historian well-known in his field, and a teacher who liked to don theatrical costumes as a way of enlivening his lessons on anatomy and other subjects.

Dr. Silverman was known to surprise freshmen students at Emory University by coming to class in 17th-century garb, accompanied by chamber music, to lecture on blood circulation in the persona of English physician William Harvey.

Dr. Silverman, 69, died Wednesday of a heart attack at Piedmont Hospital. The funeral is 2:30 p.m. today at Temple Sinai in Atlanta. Dressler's Jewish Funeral Care is in charge of arrangements.

Dr. Silverman was born in Springfield, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University, where he was an honor student. He went to the University of Chicago School of Medicine and then returned to Ohio State for his medical residency.

He was inspired to pursue cardiology after hearing a lecture by Dr. J. Willis Hurst, who was at Emory and had been President Lyndon Johnson's heart doctor, said Dr. Silverman's son, Joel Silverman of Atlanta. Dr. Silverman studied with Dr. Hurst at Emory.

Dr. Silverman made headlines for a report called "The Hand and the Heart," in which he put forward the idea that certain heart conditions manifested in abnormalities of the hand, his son said.

In 1970, after two years as a cardiologist for the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Silverman joined the Emory medical faculty in a unique role based at Piedmont Hospital. During the next 38 years, he was a mentor for 75 cardiology fellows and many other students and residents.

Even while pursuing a demanding career, Dr. Silverman published numerous articles and chapters in books on medical history.

"His work was his great love," said Joel Silverman. "He would work all day at the hospital and come home and write and write."

After he wrote a book titled, "British Cardiology in the Twentieth Century," Dr. Silverman was named a fellow in the Royal College of Physicians in London in 2001.

Dr. Silverman also was a longtime tennis player and a recreational cyclist, his son said. Among the staff at Piedmont, Dr. Silverman was known as an advocate for nurses.

"He was proudest of his work teaching nurses how to take care of heart patients," said his brother, Dr. Barry Silverman of Atlanta, a cardiologist at Northside Hospital. "He really enjoyed teaching them, too. He treated them with such respect, and he had such respect for them."

Suzanne Cambre of Tucker, a nurse who worked closely with Dr. Silverman at Piedmont Hospital for 34 years, said he was ahead of his time in treating nurses as respected colleagues.

"When he established the coronary care center at Piedmont, he immediately recognized that the nurses were the ones who observed the patients throughout the day and would see minute changes in them," she said. "He was the ultimate advocate for nurses and nurse education."

Other survivors include his wife, Diana Silverman of Atlanta; a son, Adam Silverman of Swarthmore, Pa.; a sister, Phyllis Schwartz of Dunwoody; a brother, Jerry Benkel of Phoenix, Ariz.; and two grandchildren.

© 2008 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Nov. 14, 2008
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