|The Michigan Orthopaedic Institute was deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Dr. Harry N. Herkowitz, M.D on June 7, 2013. The much-loved and respected chairman and professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan was 65 years old and is survived by his wife, Jan son Seth (Laura) and daughter Rachael (Michael-fiance).
Dr. Herkowitz specialized in the surgical management of spinal disorders including spinal stenosis, herniated discs, deformity and trauma to the neck and back. He was a graduate of Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed a spine surgery fellowship at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. He then came to Beaumont in 1975 for his Orthopaedic residency, followed by a fellowship in spine surgery which established his specialty and the focus of his career for the next three decades. He then assumed the chairmanship of the department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Beaumont in 1991. In the course of starting his career at Beaumont he also was a founding partner of the Michigan Orthopaedic Institute, formerly known as Weissman, Gitlin, and Herkowitz.
His drive for excellence along with his talents led him to prominence as president of the Cervical Spine Research Society, the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar spine and the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Herkowitz published dozens of articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented at hundreds of conferences. He also edited a dozen major textbooks on the spine, and served as editor or on the editorial board of major orthopaedic and spine journals.
In 1991, Dr. Herkowitz published a landmark study for treatment of degenerative spondyloslisthesis, a spinal condition in which one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below. The study influenced much of the research to the present day and established Beaumont as an important institution regarding the development of definitive treatments for that condition.
Under his direction, the Orthopaedic Surgery Department at Beaumont, Royal Oak has been ranked 13 times among the top 50 programs in the nation by U.S News & World Report, and was Michigan’s top-ranked program for orthopaedic care in 2012-13. Dr. Herkowitz was honored with an Outstanding Academic Excellence Award by Beaumont in 2011. He was also named among the 100 Best Spine Surgeons in America, recognized by Best Doctors in America, and was twice honored with the Volvo Award for Clinical Research in Low Back Pain.
“His legacy will be in his academic and teaching role,” says Jeffrey Fischgrund, M.D., Orthopaedic surgeon at Beaumont. “He started one of the first accredited training programs for spine surgeons, and two generations of spine surgeons are carrying forward his legacy. If you made a tree of spine surgery, all the branches lead to Harry Herkowitz.”
Dr. Herkowitz focused his professional life around the principals and behaviors of his primary mentor, Richard Rothman of the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia. Playing a huge role in his success, the key was paying it forward not only in his professional life but also in his personal life. He was a devoted family man, loving husband and father, and great friend to many. His legacy will be carried on for many generations to come.
For those who wish to make gifts in honor of Dr. Herkowitz, they can be made to Dr. Harry Herkowitz Fund, care of the Beaumont Foundation (3711 West 13 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48073) this foundation will help sustain the legacy of excellence created by Dr. Herkowitz. Online donations can be made at http://foundation.beaumont.edu