It is with deep sadness that I inform you Dr. Hiroshi Tazaki, Research Professor of Urology at NYMC, passed away on May 27, 2010.
Dr. Tazaki, MD, PhD, F.A.C.S. was born on August 18, 1932, in Tokyo Japan. He resided in Leonia, NY at the time of his death, after spending a career spanning U.S. and Japanese medical advancement. Born into a distinguished medical doctor’s family in Tokyo, the eldest son was expected to take over his father’s medical clinic. His father worked there during WWII when wounded civilians were brought for care to Tazaki Hospital, he often recalled. In 1951, Hiroshi was admitted into Keio High School, assuring his future in medicine.
Hiroshi Tazaki attended the Keio University for his undergraduate and medical school education. He then entered the Urology Residency Program at Keio University Hospital, and passed the qualifing examination for Ph.D candidate at Graduate School of Medicine, Keio University from which he graduated in 1961. He remained on the urology faculty at Keio University, School of Medicine for an additional year as assistant. In 1964, he obtained a fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York under the tutelage of Dr. Herbert Brendler. He received further training as an academic urologic subspecialist.
When he returned to Japan, Hiroshi Tazaki refused to run the Tazaki Hospital, and decided to spend his career in teaching and research. At Keio University Hospital, he trained many of the physicians practicing today throughout Japan. He was a dedicated caregiver and a superb clinician and surgeon. He was eager to develop his academic skills, and started to run a research laboratory where several bladder cancer cell lines were established: in those early days, to start research using tissue culture technique was something quite unknown, and it was a challenge to make a clean bench and an incubator by the researchers, themselves.
Hiroshi Tazaki is endowed with great and charming personality, a leader with a sense of humor, clinical and scientific integrity. In 1977, he was promoted to the Professor and Chairman, Department of Urology, Keio University, School of Medicine. Over the ensuing years, the primary focus of Hiroshi’s clinical and academic activities gradually shifted to the emerging field of minimally invasive surgery; Endourology and MIS.
In 1986, Hiroshi Tazaki invited Dr. Arthur Smith to Keio University Hospital to give the first Endourology course ever in Japan. During the following years, several Endourology courses were successfully organized by both Arthur and Hiroshi. I was lucky enough to be part of the team when Hiroshi Tazaki became the head of the Department of Urology. He was the president of the 4th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society of Endourology?ESWL (JSEE) in 1990, when several cases of live surgery were tele-casted via transpacific satellite transmission from Japan to the United States. In the late 1980s, he started to use a video-monitor screen to show procedures of transurethral resection, which was very instructive and was awarded World Videourology Award for Excellence in Video Production in 1991.
Hiroshi Tazaki was attending a medical meeting in Europe in 1983 when his four-year-old son came down with a fever due to acute leukemia. It is always heart-warming to see how far a farther will extend himself for his child. Hiroshi has done everything he could offer to save the life of his son, Yu John Tazaki who was treated in M.D. Anderson Medical Center in Houston and Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, and finally recovered from acute leukemia and hepatitis C.
In 1995, Hiroshi Tazaki resigned from Keio University and accepted a position as Research Professor at New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY. He received several scientific and clinical awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Endourological Society in 2000,and the Karl-Storz Award of JSEE in 2004.
Hiroshi Tazaki was the author of more than 380 scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals. In 2009 he was named a Lifetime Professor at New York Medical College, while he was appointed as a Visiting Professor at Keio University after his retirement. He served as a volunteer healthcare facilitator for Japanese businessmen and their families who came to Westchester Medical Center. He also continued to offer his services as a physician when needed, most recently saving the life of a heart attack victim on a flight to Japan.
Hiroshi met his final challenge with remarkable strength, and courage. He flew back from Japan to his home in NY on May 13, 2010 in spite of pain of disseminating gastric cancer. He was a man of healing art who will be missed and never forgotten.
For all his friends,
Shiro Baba, M.D.
President of the Japanese Society of Endourology / ESWL
Professor and Chairman
Department of Urology,
Kitasato University, School of Medicine