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Presentation of the 2013 ESPGHAN Distinguished Service Award to Professor David Branski

Troncone, Riccardo*; Shamir, Raanan

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Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: July 2014 - Volume 59 - Issue 1 - p 1-2
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000374
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The European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) wishes to acknowledge and remember one of its most highly esteemed colleagues. At the annual general meeting held in London on May 11, 2013, it gave us great pleasure to present Professor David Branski with the ESPGHAN Distinguished Service Award. Prof Branski's major contributions to the understanding and treatment of pediatric gastrointestinal diseases, to the education of young pediatric gastroenterologists, and to ESPGHAN were recognized in the presence of his family, friends, and peers. Unfortunately, shortly after this festive occasion, on August 1, 2013, Prof Branski succumbed to pancreatic cancer. He fought a long, hard battle, working as the editor of our journal almost until his last moments, a true testament to his tenacious nature.


David Branski was born on January 8, 1944, in Tel Aviv. He completed his residency in pediatrics in 1976 at the Bikur Cholim General Hospital in Jerusalem, followed by his fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology at the Buffalo Children's Hospital, New York, where he worked until 1978, under the direction of Professor Emanuel Lebenthal. David was already demonstrating the traits that would subsequently characterize and begin the upward trajectory of his career.

Following his fellowship, he returned to Israel as a lecturer in pediatrics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, combining teaching with clinically relevant translational studies. In 1982, he became the Deputy Head at the Department of Paediatrics, Chief of the Service of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the Bikur Cholim General Hospital and Senior Lecturer at the Hebrew University. David was appointed Chair of the Department of Paediatrics at the Bikur Cholim General Hospital in 1989, becoming one of the youngest associate professors at the Hebrew University. Subsequently, he was appointed as Chair of the Department of Paediatrics at Share Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and in 2002, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Division of Pediatrics, Hadassah Hospitals, and the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, where he mastered a division with an international reputation for excellence.


Professor Branski focused on celiac disease as his major scientific interest. Both pathophysiological and clinical aspects of this condition have been addressed in his studies; however, his scientific production had been much broader, expanding also outside the gastrointestinal tract. One of his last contributions was his involvement in the revision of the diagnostic criteria for childhood celiac disease, envisaging the omission of the jejunal biopsy under special circumstances.

As an investigator and writer he has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed articles, 45 chapters and review articles, 10 books, and 18 book series. Of note are his contributions to the gastrointestinal section of the recent editions of the Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.


Despite the vast time spent in clinical work and science, Prof Branski made important contributions to the field of medical education, both in practical and in theoretical terms. As a representative in the Confederation of European Specialists in Pediatrics and of the European Academy of Pediatrics, he has worked to establish training curriculum standards for all of Europe, and, upon retirement as the Chair of Pediatrics at Hadassah University Hospitals, in 2010, he widened this effort on a global level as one of the leaders of the Global Pediatric Education Consortium.

Prof Branski mentored and trained many of today's leaders in pediatric gastroenterology, not only in Israel but abroad as well. He was instrumental in the organization of various conferences and produced a successful master course in pediatrics. Prof Branski also served on a number of prestigious academic committees and, apart from ESPGHAN, he actively contributed to the life of several scientific societies, having been President of the Israeli Pediatric Association and Secretary General of the European Paediatric Association-Union of National European Paediatric Societies and Associations. In the many positions he held, he has always shown great wisdom, sincerity, and respect for all opinions.


ESPGHAN was David's second family. He was proud of his attendance record, having not missed a single ESPGHAN Annual Meeting since 1980. His contributions to the Society had been numerous and continuous. In addition to being a devoted member, he served the Society as a council member from 1996, and was the founder and chair of the gastrointestinal committee from 2005 to 2008. In 2010, Prof Branski was appointed as ESPGHAN Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (JPGN), one of the most important and influential positions in the field of pediatric gastroenterology. David saw his task as the editor of JPGN as one of the major projects of his career and had been a tireless driving force behind the European Editorial Board of JPGN, from the day he undertook this task until the week he died.


Despite the indefatigable work, David was extremely dedicated to his family. He was husband to a woman of valor, Effie, and loving father, father-in-law, and grandfather to his four children, their spouses, and 17 grandchildren. They were a constant source of pride and joy. Whenever we met, David used to comment on the importance of his family and how his familial support was a key ingredient for his success professionally and personally.

Prof Branski was a dear friend to us and a true friend to so many pediatricians and pediatric gastroenterologists worldwide. He could always be counted upon; with kindness, tenderness, and wisdom, David was the person you would call for advice in personal as well as professional issues and disputes. He helped and mentored many of us throughout our careers. His unique personality allowed him to focus on the good side in everyone; he displayed a constant desire to help others.

In conclusion, David Branski was not only an outstanding investigator, educator, and clinician who has worked without pauses to ensure the progress of pediatric gastroenterology but also a remarkable man, humble despite his accomplishments, appreciated for his kindness and warmth, consistently committed to serving the community and the welfare of children at every level. ESPGHAN is proud to have had him as one of their most outstanding members, and pleased to grant him the 2013 Distinguished Service Award. He is truly missed. We bow our collective heads with sadness alongside the worldwide pediatric gastroenterology community.

© 2014 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,