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Biographical entry Wapnick, Simon (1937 - 2003)

MRCS and FRCS 1966; MB ChB Pretoria 1961; MD 1971.

25 October 1937
Pretoria, South Africa
26 May 2003
New York, USA


Simon Wapnick was an anatomist based in New York. He was born on 25 October 1937 in Pretoria, South Africa, the son of Percy Jacob Wapnick and Fanny née Levitt. He was educated at Pretoria Boys’ High School and then went on to the University of Pretoria Medical School. He held house appointments at Pretoria General Hospital and Harari Hospital, in the then Rhodesia.

In 1964 he went to London, where he was a locum registrar at St Stephens and King George’s Hospitals, London, and followed the basic science course at the College and the Fellowship course in surgery at St Thomas’s. In 1965 he was a senior house officer at Great Ormond Street. From 1966 to 1969 he worked as a registrar and clinical tutor at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in Hammersmith.

In 1969 he returned to Africa, as a lecturer and senior lecturer at the department of surgery at the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine, Rhodesia. From 1972 he was a specialist surgeon at the department of surgery, Ichilov Hospital, Tel Aviv, Israel. He then emigrated to the US, where he was a surgeon at Brooklyn Veterans Administration Hospital in New York. He subsequently taught gross anatomy at Ross University Medical School in the Dominican Republic and at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

At the time of his death, Simon was an assistant professor in the department of cell biology and anatomy at New York Medical College. He taught gross anatomy to first year medical students and facilitated a postgraduate gross anatomy course for various residency programmes.

He wrote papers on a range of topics, including skeletal abnormalities in Crohn’s disease, diverticular disease, hiatus hernia, and carcinoma of the oesophagus and stomach.

He was actively interested in various Jewish organisations in Israel and in Africa. He married Isobelle née Gelfand, the daughter of Michael Gelfand, the author of books on tropical medicine and on the Shona people, in 1962. They had two daughters (Janette and Laura) and a son (Jonathan), and three grandchildren (Chloe, Jordan and Michael Joshua). A keen marathon runner, Simon Wapnick died on 26 May 2003 of an apparent heart attack, while out jogging in Central Park.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Matthew A Pravetz.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England