Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Arnold P. Gold, MD


Written by: Nigel S. Bamford, MD and Darryl C. De Vivo, MD

Education and Training: 
University of Texas (1943-1947) B.A.
University of Florida (1947-1949) M.S.
University of Lausanne (1950-1954) M.D.
Charity Hospital of Louisiana, New Orleans (1954-1955) Rotating Internship
Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio (1955-1958) Residency in Pediatrics
Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center (1958-1961) Fellow in Pediatric Neurology

Dr. Arnold P. Gold, one of the true giants in child neurology and American medicine, passed away on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at the age of 92. Gold was a founder of modern child neurology and a longtime colleague, collaborator and mentor of many who worked and trained at the Columbia University Medical Center and the Neurological Institute of New York. Much has changed in medicine since Dr. Gold began his career, but his ideals and teachings have not, and now live on in many, if not all, practicing child neurologists.

While a resident in pediatrics at Cincinnati, Gold developed an interest in endocrin-opathies, published a few papers on the subject and planned a fellowship in endocrinology at Johns Hopkins. These plans changed after spending a one month rotation with Sidney Carter at the Neurological Institute of New York. Carter, a founding father of modern American child neurology, had established one of the country’s first training programs and Gold considered Sid “a very special person: a friend, mentor and role model; the ultimate of what a physician should be.” During his fellowship, Gold viewed Carter as an astute diagnostician and a compassionate clinician who cared about every child and their suffering family members and conveyed these admirable qualities to all of his trainees.

At the end of Gold’s training, Carter offered him a faculty position at the Neurological Institute and he joined the growing divisional ranks with Abe Chutorian, Niels Low, Jim Hammill and Richard Koenigsberger. These colleagues also would make their own marks and become giants in the nascent field of Child Neurology. Gold rose from assistant to full professor over fifteen years. During this rise in academia, he would distinguish himself as an outstanding teacher and able clinician. He enjoyed seeing patients with a broad array of neurological diseases and published widely in many diverse areas of pediatric neurology. He developed a special interest in the areas of vascular neurology and neurocutaneous diseases which led to chairmanships of the NIH Child Study Group for Stroke and the Medical Advisory Board of the National Tuberous Sclerosis Association. He served as a member on the American Heart Association Stroke Council and the Committee on Drugs of the American Academy of Pediatrics. His diverse interests in child neurology also contributed to our basic understanding of epilepsy, migraine, cerebral palsies, collagen vascular diseases, attention/hyperactivity disorders, movement disorders, infectious and inflammatory disorders, developmental neurology, neuromuscular disease, and learning disabilities. His presence was always felt on the wards at Babies Hospital in New York, where compassion for the sick children and their families was constant—a continuing measure of the Carter/Gold legacy. Dr. Gold was indefatigable as he sought out new ways to help the children and their families under his care, and he later explored philanthropy to improve clinical care and the hospital infrastructure.

Gold received numerous awards and visiting professorships for his contributions to medicine and child neurology. He was the recipient of the National Brennerman Award in Pediatrics, Lifetime Community Service Award from the Autism Society of America, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Sacred Heart University, and awards for Humanitarian Excellence from various institutions, including the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Gold was a beloved teacher and mentor for the many pediatricians who trained at Babies Hospital and the pediatric neurologists who trained at the Neurological Institute. Undoubtedly an inborn tendency, Gold elevated the thoughtful manner of his mentors and colleagues to promote care for the families of his patients; one often heard the words “care for the family, not just the patient.” Gold would often extend his clinical visits with the child to spend quality time with the child’s parents and other family members. The net result often was a comprehensive plan that would ultimately embrace the family and improve each child’s long term quality of life—the true signature of a caring, compassionate child neurologist.

A charter member of the Child Neurology Society and recipient in 2005 of the Society’ Lifetime Achievement Award, Gold is perhaps best known for founding, in 1988 along with his wife, Dr. Sandra Gold, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, dedicated to fostering humanism in medicine. With a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, he gathered fifty medical school deans together to discuss ways to offset the diminishing emphasis on the humane aspects of medicine. He proposed mechanisms that would inculcate these humanistic behaviors in medical students at the beginning of their careers; behaviors that he regarded as fundamental to the practice of medicine. One outcome was the White Coat Ceremony that medical and dental students participate in at the beginning of their training. The first ceremony was in 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; it has since spread to nearly every medical and dental school in the United States and more than a dozen countries overseas. The white coat is a symbol that emphasizes the ethical, moral and humane imperatives that medical students accept upon matriculation. Another outcome was the creation of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation that imbues compassionate healthcare through sponsored programs which promote humanism in medicine, as well as student and resident recognitions for individuals who exemplify Gold’s values, including integrity, compassion, empathy, cultural sensitivity, effective communication, trust and confidence, respect, service and identification of the emotional concerns of patients and family members.

Gold encouraged programs to evaluate problems in medicine that resulted from the de-emphasis of humanity in medicine. He believed that a constant awareness of suffering and the capacity to alleviate it by maintaining competency would prevent physician “burnout”. The first Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award was presented to Dr. Ruth Nass at the Child Neurology Society Annual Meeting in 2010. Nass was one of Gold’s former trainees who had promoted humanism in pediatric neurology throughout the New York tri-state area. Since that time, the Foundation has supported seven additional CNS awardees that exemplify the Gold example, and a biennial Humanism in Medicine Forum at the CNS meeting. By honoring those clinicians who actively promote humanism in medicine, and by continuing dialogue about the factors that promote physician burnout, Dr. Gold felt that the nobility of medicine would be preserved and elevated. Those trainees who have followed and who did not have the privilege of interacting directly with Dr. Gold will benefit indirectly from the ongoing work of the Foundation and will be viewed as his “grandchildren”. These fundamental principles of humanism will allow the profession to serve our children humanely and to thrive well into the future. Humility, compassion and grace characterize “the Gold Standard” in the practice of child neurology, and are the essential traits that Dr. Arnold P. Gold personified throughout his long and distinguished career.

Dr. Gold is survived by his wife, Sandra; his children and 13 grandchildren.