Charles J. Epstein, M.D. A leading researcher, educator and clinician in the field of genetics, died on Tuesday, February 15, at the age of 77, at his home in Tiburon, after a protracted struggle with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Epstein trained hundreds of doctors, scientists, and genetic counselors, and treated thousands of patients. He published more than 500 scholarly papers and authored and edited several books. Epstein was born on September 3, 1933 in Philadelphia, PA. Epstein graduated summa cum laude in chemistry in 1955 from Harvard, and then graduated first in his class at Harvard Medical School in 1959. He married his wife and classmate, Dr. Lois Epstein, M.D., in 1956. Epstein moved to San Francisco in 1967, where he joined the faculty of UCSF as the chair of the medical genetics division. He established genetic screening and counseling clinics around the state of California, which became the model for many such clinics around the world. He became a professor of biochemistry and pediatrics in 1972, and was named director of UCSF's human genetics program in 1997. Epstein's "gene dosage effect hypothesis," formed the basis for a broad array of medical genetic research. Working with his wife, he produced the first mouse model to be used in Down syndrome research, one of his major fields of study. Epstein received multiple awards and honors for his work. He served as president of the American College of Medical Genetics and the American Society of Human Genetics, both of which presented him recently with lifetime achievement awards. He also served as president of the American Board of Medical Genetics. Most recently, Epstein chaired both the Scientific Advisory Board and Board of Trustees of the Buck Institute on Age Research, which has established an annual lecture series in his name. A cellist, lover of travel, gardener, and craftsman, Epstein had many passions and pursuits beyond his professional career. Epstein is survived by his wife, Lois, his children, David Epstein and Abigail Lewis, Jonathan Epstein and Teresa Hegg, Paul Epstein and Jennifer Traub, and Joanna Epstein and Dan Bornstein, his grandchildren Jeffrey, Kendra, Jacqueline, Genevieve, Violet, and Simon, and his brothers and sisters-in-law Herbert and Jean Epstein and Edwin and Sandra Epstein. A funeral will be held at Sunday, February 20, at 1pm, at Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon, CA, 94920. Dr. Epstein's family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his memory to support the Charles and Lois Epstein Visiting Professorship at UCSF and the Buck Institute for Age Research.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Feb. 17 to Feb. 20, 2011.