A Tribute to Dr. Jerome O. Klein

by Stephen Pelton, Elizabeth Barnett and friends and colleagues at Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Klein excited generations of trainees and colleagues in Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases.  He was an inspiring person who took genuine interest in those whose paths crossed his. He provided mentoring, support, and guidance, and each were welcomed into his professional family.  He spent nearly all of his professional career at Boston City Hospital and Boston Medical Center following in the footsteps of his mentor, Dr. Maxwell Finland.  He took exceptional pride in being able to care for his patients, teach his medical students, residents and fellows, and in being a role model for subsequent generations of physicians.  He was especially generous with his time and knowledge and provided guidance for many of us throughout our careers.

Dr. Klein was Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and former Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at BMC.  He had a national and international reputation as an educator and scholar, and was the recipient of many awards. Distinguished Physician Award of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the Bristol Award for Distinguished Achievement of the IDSA, Clinician of the Year Award of the Massachusetts ID Society, Lifetime Achievement Award for Clinical Research of the Society of Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children, and the Maxwell Finland Award for Scientific Achievement from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, are just a select few.  Dr. Klein was also an Associate Editor at Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal and a lecturer at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Klein was a distinguished faculty member and physician in pediatric infectious diseases for over 50 years.  He had over 500 publications including peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters and books on important topics such as infection in the newborn, otitis media, bacteremia, bacterial pneumonia, meningitis, Haemophilus influenzae and antimicrobial therapy. 

Dr. Klein earned his medical degree from Yale University in 1956 and completed his internship in Minneapolis.  He then served as a Senior Assistant Surgeon for the CDC before completing his residency training at Boston City Hospital in 1961.  He remained at Boston City Hospital, under the tutelage of Dr. Maxwell Finland, first as a Research Fellow in Infectious Diseases, Visiting Physician, and Associate Director in Pediatrics, until being named to the Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in 1977, a position he held until 1996.  Dr. Klein became an Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at BUSM when he retired in 2017.

In 2011, to honor his legacy and many contributions to Boston City Hospital and Boston Medical Center, the Jerome Klein Award for Physician Excellence was established.  This award is presented annually to a physician who shares Dr. Klein’s attributes, commitment and dedication as an outstanding mentor, clinician and/or physician scientist, leader and supportive of colleagues and trainees.  Dr. Klein was revered by his colleagues, which included healthcare workers, researchers, and administrative staff, and all became his work family!  He was genuine, kind,  good humored,  and truly served as an inspiration. He was the eternal optimist.  He lived his life to the fullest and will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him.

Dr. Klein is survived by his wife Linda, their three children Andrea, Adam and Bennett and 3 grandchildren.  The family will have a private burial service.  We will have a celebration of Dr. Klein’s life and career in the future, when gatherings are permitted.

Improving the health of children worldwide through philanthropic support of scientific and educational programs.