In Memoriam

Dr. Ronald F. Dorfman: In Memoriam - June 15, 2012

DorfmanIt is with great sadness that we tell you that Dr. Ronald F. Dorfman, Emeritus Professor of Pathology at Stanford, and co-founder of the Society for Hematopathology (SH) with Dr. Costan Berard, died on June 15, 2012 after a short hospitalization at the age of 89. Dr. Dorfman served as the second President of the SH from 1984-1986.

Dr. Dorfman was born in 1923 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He graduated from the University of Witwatersrand and Medical School, from which he received his MBBCh in 1948. His medical training was interrupted by military service in Egypt and Italy during World War II. He resumed his medical training in Johannesburg, London, and then Edinburgh, returning to the South Africa Institute for Medical Research to complete his residency. In 1963 he and his family immigrated to the U.S. following his faculty appointment at Washington University in St. Louis. It was there that Ron Dorfman and Juan Rosai shared identical examples of a rare, benign lymph node disorder that came to be known as Rosai-Dorfman disease.

Along with Richard Kempson, Dr. Dorfman was recruited to Stanford from Washington University in 1968 and together they founded a Surgical Pathology service that quickly became and still remains one of the very best in the world. At Stanford Dr. Dorfman worked closely with Drs. Henry Kaplan and Saul Rosenburg in pioneering studies that transformed Hodgkin’s disease into one of the most curable forms of cancer. They also collaborated on studies that validated the Rappaport Classification and played a major role in the NCI sponsored study that led to the Working Formulation of non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

Ron Dorfman was a gifted diagnostician and teacher and many young pathologists from other parts of the U.S. and foreign countries learned from him at the microscope. Dr. Dorfman made many contributions to the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology including teaching a short course, co-directing two long courses, serving as a Councilor and on the Education Committee as well as Chairman of the Hematopathology Specialty Conference. He gave the coveted Maude Abbott Lecture in 1993. Ron was a life long scientist and was a visiting Senior Research Fellow at St. John’s College, Oxford, working with David Mason.

Those who knew Ron well were most impressed by his warmth and his many admirable personal qualities. He was a consummate gentleman and scholar. In honor of his achievements and his contributions to Stanford, his field, and his patients, the Department of Pathology established the Ronald F. Dorfman, MBBch, FRCPath, Professorship in Hematopathology in 2002. Ron is survived by his wife of 57 years, Zelma, three daughters, a brother, and two grandsons.


Roger Warnke, MD,
The Ronald F. Dorfman, MBBch, FRCPath, Professor in Hematopathology, Emeritus