Victor Herbert, MD, JD, M.A.C.P. (Master American College of Physicians), F.R.S.M. (Fellow Royal Society of Medicine, London), 75, internationally recognized hematologist, nutrition scientist and one of the world's leading authorities on questionable medical practices, died at his home in New York City on November 19th. He is survived by his wife, Marilynne and their daughters, Alissa and Laura Herbert. Dr. Herbert also has two sons Robert and Steven and a daughter, Kathy Rose, from a previous marriage and four grandchildren, Jessica, Nicole, Andrew, and Daniel. Until his death, Dr. Herbert was a Professor of Medicine and Chair, Committee to Strengthen Nutrition at The Mount Sinai-New York University Health System and Chief, Mount Sinai Nutrition Center and Hematology and Nutrition Research Laboratory at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y.
During his prolific career he was the author of more than 850 scientific papers on a wide range of medical topics. He was a much sought after lecturer at medical institutions across the country and around the world. He also holds numerous medical related patents.
In 1986, he was profiled in "Who Goes First? The Story of Self-Experimentation in Medicine," by New York Times medical writer Dr. Lawrence K. Altman, for his pioneering work in folic acid, also called folate. Later he was the subject of a feature article in the New York Times Magazine (April 6, 1986).
He served on the World Health Organization-FAO Committee on Nutritional Anemias and on its Committee on Dietary Requirements. His many awards for nutrition research include the McCollum Award - American Society of Clinical Nutrition (1972) and Middleton Award (1978) the highest award for medical research given by the Veterans Administration, the FDA Commissioner's Special Citation (1984) for "outstanding and consistent contributions against the proliferation of nutrition quackery to the American consumer, and the Robert H. Herman Award - American Society of Clinical Nutrition (1986). He was widely recognized as one of the country's leading "quackbusters".
Dr. Herbert was a member of numerous scientific societies and served on the editorial boards of six scientific journals. He was President of the American Society of Clinical Nutrition (1980-81) member of the Interagency Committee for Human Nutrition Research (ICHNR); a subcommittee of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President; served on the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences and its RDA Committee and was Chair, Public Information Committee, Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (1983-86). He was also a board member of the National Council Against health Fraud from 1984 through his death in 2002.
In 1988, Dr. Herbert received an Honorary Membership Award from the American Dietetic Association and in 1993, the American Institute of Nutrition's Lifetime Fellow Award for his "nutrition research, teaching and unique contribution to the fight against health fraud." Dr. Herbert has frequently testified before Congress on health and nutrition subjects; was for five years Chairman, Committee on Life Sciences of the American Bar Association, and served as a medical-legal expert for the U.S. government and several state agencies in cases involving questionable health and nutritional practices.
Dr. Herbert was the author of the classic book, Nutrition Cultism: Facts & Fictions, described by The New England Journal of Medicine as, "a must for all readers who value the importance of nutrition in public health but are chagrined by the pretenders who exploit the public with food frauds, dietary cures, and nutrition nonsense." He was the co-author with Dr. Stephen Barrett of, Vitamins and Health Foods: The Great American Hustle, consultant for The Reader's Digest book, Eat Better, Live Better and Metropolitan Life's "Eat Well, Be Well" public television series and cookbook. Dr. Herbert was co-author of Genetic Nutrition (Macmillan, 1993), with A. Simopoulos and Beverly Jacobson; later reprinted in softcover as The Healing Diet (Macmillan, 1995) He was the editor of The Mount Sinai School of Medicine Complete Book of Nutrition (St. Martin's Press 1990) and Total Nutrition: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need: From the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (St. Martins Press, 1995). He was also co-author with Dr. Stephen Barrett of The Vitamin Pushers (Prometheus Press, 1994).
A native of New York, Dr. Herbert received his B.S. in chemistry (1948), MD (1952) and JD (1974) all at Columbia University. He was on the founding faculties of The Albert Einstein College of Medicine and The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. In addition, he was on the full-time faculty of Harvard, Mount Sinai, SUNY Brooklyn (formerly Downstate) and Hahnemann School of Medicine, before returning to Mount Sinai in 1985. His research has been based at the Bronx VA Medical Center since 1968.
Dr. Herbert has the distinction of military service in four wars: WW II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. He retired from military service as a Green Beret with the rank of Lt. Colonel.
Tax-deductible donations in Dr. Herbert's memory may be made to the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, One East Wacker Drive Suite 2430, Chicago, Illinois 60601 or The National Council Against Health Fraud, 119 Foster Street, Peabody, MA 01960. A memorial service will be held at on January 6, 2002, at 10 AM at the New York Academy of Medicine.