James Stephen Seidel, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
When James Seidel died on July 25, 2003, UCLA lost one of its most distinguished alumni and productive faculty members. He was a wonderfully effective and relentless advocate for children who has left a legacy through his leadership in the medical community.
Born in New York, Jim obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University, and an M.S.P.H. in parasitology from the University of North Carolina. In 1969, he entered the UCLA School of Medicine and worked under Dr. Marietta Voge, an early mentor, in the field of parasitology. He received his M.D. degree in 1973 and his Ph.D. in 1976.
After graduation, Jim’s association with UCLA continued with his pediatrics residency at Harbor General Hospital from 1973 to 1976, and his ultimate return to the Medical School in 1977, the start of a long career, beginning as an assistant professor of pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Ambulatory Pediatrics. His early tutelage under Joseph St. Geme, Jr., M.D., Executive Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, shaped Jim’s academic and professional future. Jim reached the rank of professor of pediatrics in 1991.
Jim’s numerous contributions were remarkable and brought great distinction to the University, the Medical School, the Department of Pediatrics, and the Department of Medicine’s Division of Emergency Medicine. Jim served as division chief in ambulatory pediatrics for over 25 years. What started as a 2-person division grew to one with over 20 faculty, fellows and nurse practitioners, and was renamed the Division of General and Emergency Pediatrics. The Division developed a national reputation and many faculty members assumed prominent positions in professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Ambulatory Pediatric Association. Jim was exceptional in his guidance of younger faculty members, fellows, residents and nurses. Approximately 90% of the clinical fellows he trained have gone on to academic positions, a testimonial to his remarkable influence as a mentor and role model.
Jim’s contributions are legion and will continue to have long-lasting effects. He organized the entire State of California in preparedness for childhood emergencies by starting a self-designation system of EDAPs (Emergency Departments Approved for Pediatrics). He was a strong voice and worker for the Pediatric Advanced Life Support Program (PALS) and the Advanced Pediatric Life Support Program (APLS) and was also tireless in his work on behalf of the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) federal grant program. He helped set national standards for pediatric resuscitation, life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. This was achieved through the integrated effort involving directed research, publications, political lobbying and national committee service. He is considered to be one of the “fathers” of the emerging field of pediatric emergency medicine. In later years, Jim also became involved in the area of childhood injury prevention. At the time of his death, he was the principal investigator on 6 grants specifically related to injury prevention, and he led a team of 8 personnel involved with this endeavor.
Jim served on many organizations and boards. He was a past chair of the Southern California Parasitologists, a past president of the Los Angeles Pediatric Society, past chair of the Emergency Care Committee of the American Heart Association and current chair of the Pediatric Emergency Medicine Committee of Chapter 2 of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He worked on behalf of the Ambulatory Pediatric Association in many different capacities, culminating in his presidency in 2001-2002. At the time of his death, Jim was organizing a multidisciplinary conference on parental presence during procedures and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
For all of these significant contributions, Jim was honored with many awards, including the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Pediatric Emergency Medicine Outstanding Service Award and the Emergency Medical Services for Children National Hero Award for Lifetime Achievement. In addition, because of his commitment to research, a named award, the Ludwig-Seidel Award, is presented at the annual meeting of the Ambulatory Pediatric Association to a fellow in pediatric emergency medicine for an outstanding research presentation. Senator Inouye of Hawaii paid tribute to Dr. Seidel by acknowledging Jim’s contributions in the Congressional Record. He closed his remarks by stating: “Dr. Seidel’s life is a testimony as to how persistence will lead to success. We still have a long way to go, but we are much further down the road thanks to remarkable people such as James Seidel.”
Over a 12-year period, Dr. Seidel directed continuing medical education courses in the Caribbean Islands. These courses, which focused on pediatric emergency medicine, attracted a broad audience of U.S. physicians. Wherever Jim taught, he also invited local physicians as his guests. In addition he would frequently bring books and other supplies to these under-resourced areas. The national course for Pediatric Emergency Medicine fellows was another one of Jim’s most important projects. He found funds to sponsor the course, selected faculty and made sure that PEM fellows from across the country had a chance to meet faculty leaders and work with each other as future colleagues. Jim felt the Fellows Conference was particularly important in improving the research capacity for our sub-specialty.
Jim’s contributions to the University were equally remarkable. He served on the Admissions Committee of the School of Medicine for almost 20 years, was a member of the Medical School Faculty Executive Committee, and at the time of his death was serving on the UCLA Council on Academic Promotions. On a local level, contributing to the academic environment at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, he served as chair of the Library Committee for 11 years. His service on this committee was instrumental in leading to a major refurbishing of the library and the installation of state-of-the art audio-visual equipment, including plasma screens.
The many accomplishments of Jim Seidel are his legacy. What must also be remembered is his persona. Jim had strong opinions and when something was not right, he would say, “That’s totally unacceptable!” In spite of the fervor of his convictions, he would listen and modify his views. Jim had the ability to inspire and motivate his colleagues. Most of all he was a person who labored with others to build consensus and to work together for the betterment of the lives of children in the United States and abroad. He will be greatly missed. May his passion be an inspiration to us all.