RSNA Mourns the Passing of Esteemed Radiologist Alexander R. Margulis, MD

Alexander R. Margulis, MD (1921-2018)


An internationally renowned educator, researcher and visionary in radiology, Alexander R. Margulis, MD, died Sept. 7, in New York. He was 97. 

During his long and distinguished career, Dr. Margulis earned a reputation as a founding father of gastrointestinal radiology and touched the lives of countless radiologists and scientists throughout the world. 

In 2012, RSNA honored Dr. Margulis, a frequent contributor and associate editor for Radiology, by establishing the Alexander Margulis Award recognizing the best original scientific article published each year in Radiology. 

“Alex was a friend to everyone and a mentor to many of us,” said James Borgstede, MD, chairman, RSNA Board of Directors. “His textbook, Alimentary Tract Radiology, has been a study guide and resource for me in my career. Nearly every imaging modality has the imprimatur of Alex Margulis. We have lost a dear friend and colleague.”

Dr. Margulis served as chair of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Radiology for 26 years, from 1963 to 1989. He led the department to international prominence, establishing UCSF as a destination for physicians around the world to learn the latest imaging techniques and technology. Dr. Margulis was instrumental in building the emerging fields of CT, MRI and molecular imaging. During his tenure, Dr. Margulis trained and mentored countless radiologists in the U.S. and abroad, imparting invaluable wisdom on how to achieve goals, inspire others and constructively interact with both colleagues and competitors. 

Dr. Margulis was born in Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia and served as an officer during World War II. Following the war, Dr. Margulis attended Harvard Medical School in Boston, and completed his residency in diagnostic radiology at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. He joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, eventually becoming a U.S. citizen. He then served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps at Fort Bragg, NC, as a clinical radiologist and chief of medical education. 

After his military service, Dr. Margulis became an assistant professor at Washington University in St Louis, eventually ascending to full professor in 1961, before moving to UCSF in 1963. 

Following his retirement from UCSF, Dr. Margulis was named UCSF associate chancellor and then special consultant to the chancellor. 

In 2000, at the same time his wife, Hedvig Hricak, MD, PhD, was named the chair of radiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Dr. Margulis became a clinical professor of radiology at The Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, where he taught until the time of his passing. Dr. Hricak, a former RSNA president, continues to serve at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Dr. Margulis was a co-founder of the Society of Gastrointestinal Radiology that later merged with the Society of Uroradiology to become the Society of Abdominal Radiology. He was also co-founder of both the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and the International Society for Strategic Studies in Radiology. He served as president of the Association of University Radiologists, the Society of Chairmen of Academic Radiology Departments and the California Academy of Medicine. 

During his academic career, he published more than 280 manuscripts and 21 books including his seminal work, Alimentary Tract Radiology – the very first textbook on gastrointestinal radiology. 

In 2014 he was appointed to the rank of Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor by the President of France for educating most of the present leaders of French radiology during his years at UCSF. 

Dr. Margulis presented the RSNA Annual Oration in Diagnostic Radiology in 1971 and was honored with an RSNA Gold Medal in 1983. Dr. Margulis received the 1989 J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine. The American College Radiology awarded him the 2013 Radiology Leadership Institute Leadership Luminary Award. Together with his wife, Dr. Margulis was an RSNA Research & Education (R&E) Foundation Centennial Pathfinder, Presidents Circle Donor and Visionary Donor.