John H. Isaacs, MD

John Isaacs


Dr. John H. (Jack) Isaacs died on July 29, 2007 at the age of 84. A native of Illinois, he spent his entire medical career in the Chicago area, except for a brief period two-year period of military service in Tokyo, Japan from 1948-1950.

Dr. Isaacs received his medical degree from St. Louis University in 1946 and served his internship and residency at Mercy Hospital and Loyola University in Chicago. Following the completion of his residency in 1953, he undertook an American Cancer Society fellowship with Dr. Herbert Schmidt, who became his mentor in the new and evolving field of gynecologic oncology. For the next 50 years, Jack’s professional career was entirely focused on gynecologic oncology, locally, regionally and nationally. Indeed, in the early 1970s when the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology established certificates of special competence in gynecologic oncology, there was an initial consideration to require completion of a formal fellowship as an exam pre-requisite. At that time, Dr. Isaacs successfully challenged the Board to allow practice experience as an alternative to the formal fellowship and he was one of the first individuals in Chicago to receive sub-specialty certification in 1974.

From the time that Jack began his internship and residency, he was closely associated with Loyola University Medical School, joining the faculty at an early age and becoming a professor in 1968. From 1962-1986, he served as Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Illinois, a major Loyola affiliate, and in 1986 he relocated to Maywood, Illinois to become the Mary Isabella Caestecker Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Loyola, a department for which he had served as interim chair on two previous occasions. In 1990, he stepped down as Chair, but remained on the active staff at Loyola University Medical Center, concentrating on teaching and clinical practice.

One of the few individuals in our specialty with an intense interest in breast disease, Dr. Isaacs established himself, not only as a pelvic surgeon, but also as a nationally recognized specialist in breast cancer. In April 1989, Jack was listed in one of the national surveys of oncologists as one of the nation’s “Best Breast Cancer Doctors.” His publications reflect this interest, and in 1989, he served as editor of the volume, “Breast Cancer and the Gynecologist”. He was a member of the ACOG task force for gynecologic cancer, and for several years he was the ACOG representative to the American College of Surgeons. He subsequently became a member of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons, a member of the Executive Committee, and eventually the Second Vice President.

In addition to those organizations mentioned above, Jack’s regional and national affiliations were numerous. First and foremost, he was an enthusiastic and regular participant at both the Chicago Gynecological Society, and the Central Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dr. Isaacs was a charter member of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, a member of the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons, an active member of the Society of Pelvic Surgeons, and the Gynecologic Society for the Study of Breast Disease. From 1984-1988 Jack served as treasurer of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Isaacs was an accomplished surgeon, educator, and mentor of residents, having touched the lives of many them, both at St. Francis Hospital and at Loyola. As testimony to his leadership, the former Isaacs’ residents created the John Isaacs Society in his honor. This group meets for an educational conference in Chicago every fall.

Jack Isaacs continued an active clinical practice, focusing primarily on breast disease, until the mid-1990s, when health issues prevented him from continuing. He developed prostate cancer and died at his home in Wilmette, Illinois at the end of July of this year. He is survived by his wife, Patricia, four sons and one daughter and eight grandchildren. He also leaves many friends in the obstetrics/gynecology community in Chicago.

Submitted by John J. Sciarra, MD, PhD

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