ROBERT MILLMAN

Obituary
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  • "I recently learned , very sadly of Robert's passing. He was..."
    - Richard Jacobs
  • "Dr Millman was truly a wonderful, funny and caring human..."
  • "Over 30 years ago, I had the opportunity to work with..."
    - Robert Sbriglio MD
  • "It is very sad losing Bobby and I will miss him. "
    - Mark Fleischman
  • "Robert, It has been a wild journey... Thank you for all..."
    - Jerry Ross
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MILLMAN--Robert B., M.D.

With great sadness, we announce the passing of Robert B. Millman, M.D., on August 14, 2017 at his home in New York City. He was 77. Dr. Millman was an innovator in psychiatry and addiction medicine, who pioneered methadone treatment in New York City and helped to transform our understanding of substance abuse from moral weakness into a treatable disease and public health issue. He was known to generations of doctors, patients, and public figures as a prolific scholar, tireless teacher, devoted clinician, and selfless public servant. He was beloved by countless students and patients, and will be remembered for his charisma, intellectual curiosity, academic generosity, inclusiveness, and spirit of adventure and fun. He was the Saul P. Steinberg Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College from 1987 until his retirement from Cornell in 2009. He had previously served as Acting Chairman of the Department of Public Health, and Chief of the Division of Community and Public Health Programs. Robert was born in Borough Park, Brooklyn. He attended Stuyvesant High School, Cornell University and SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. While doing his Internal Medicine residency at Bellevue Hospital in the 1960s, he moonlit as backstage physician at the legendary Fillmore East. With Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, and Miles Davis as his soundtrack, Robert learned firsthand about the complexity and depth of addictive disorders, as well as the power and pitfalls of fame and celebrity. These formative experiences would provide the intellectual foundations for the rest of his career. Robert honed his craft treating patients from all walks of life, including the patients no one else wanted to treat. Working with Drs. Vincent P. Dole and Marie Nyswander at Rockefeller University, he helped establish the first methadone treatment programs in NYC jails in 1967, as well as the first adolescent methadone program at Cornell Medical College in 1970, which he directed until 2009. Robert's work then expanded into other areas of occupational and mental health. He was the founding Medical Director of the Employee Assistance Program at Cornell, one of the first of its kind. He served as a member of the White House's National Health Policy Institute, as a senior member of the advisory panel of D.A.R.E, and on the Board of Directors for Drug Strategies. He also oversaw the addiction and mental health treatment programs for the Doormen's Union, Carpenters' Union, and Teachers' Union. As performance-enhancing drugs infiltrated professional athletics in the 1990s, Robert was recruited to be Medical Advisor for Major League Baseball and Psychiatric Advisor for the Association of Tennis Professionals. However, Robert's greatest legacy, by far, will be as a teacher and mentor to medical students, residents, physicians, nurses, social workers, addiction counselors, and all those in the clinical and public service community who had the pleasure and privilege of experiencing his entertaining teaching style. He taught them to be humble and respectful; to never judge, but always be skeptical. He will be dearly missed by his wife, Ann Beeder, M.D.; his children, Jenna, Daria and Lucas; his brother and sister-in-law, Howard Millman, M.D., and Fredrika Miller; and members of his extended family. A memorial will be held at the High Line Room at the Standard Hotel (848 Washington Street) on Tuesday, September 19, at 6pm. Donations in Robert's memory may be made to NYU Langone Medical Center.

Published in The New York Times on Sept. 3, 2017