Dr. Eugene Straus’ remarkable life and career could fill many more books than he has already written himself. A noted physician, teacher, researcher and author, Straus was recently honored by Downstate Medical School in Brooklyn as a distinguished student and faculty alumnus for his long career in medical research and teaching. Today he is finding time between activities at Prospect Park Residence to work on a historical novel based on his own family.
“I’ve written short stories, plays, a novel and non-fiction,” said Dr. Straus, a Brooklyn native who moved to the senior living community in April. “My current project is set in 1905 Europe, with characters based on my grandparents and their experiences in Czarist Russia and beyond.” The story of his heroic grandparents and their struggles provide a wealth of plot lines for his book. Straus’ family, which includes political activists, union organizers and respected New York City doctors, provide colorful figures for many more tales.
Straus’ son Alex, with whom he co-wrote the book “Medical Marvels: The 100 Greatest Advances in Medicine,” said that although his father spends time alone with his writing, “he now spends a lot of time socializing with other people and developing new friendships at Prospect Park Residence.”
“I’ve always been a fan of science and really enjoy our conversations,” said Kathy Azbell, Director of Community Outreach for the senior living community. “In addition to meeting neighbors, Dr. Straus is enjoying the community’s independent lifestyle and activities in between his writing sessions.”
Straus’ own story is in itself material for a novel. A gastroenterologist by training, Straus had a notable career as a biomedical researcher, working alongside Rosalyn Yalow, Ph.D., about whom he wrote a biography entitled “Rosalyn Yalow, Nobel Laureate: Her Life and Work in Medicine.” Yalow was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in medicine. Together, the team worked on groundbreaking clinical research into gastrointestinal peptide hormones, and developed techniques in radioimmunoassay, a key tool for the research they conducted and the basis for medical research in other fields. Straus also developed a test for tuberculosis which is used around the world. He taught for several decades at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, where he is a tenured professor after attending Downstate Medical Center, which houses the country’s largest medical school. A chapter about Straus’ life and accomplishments will be included in a book being compiled about the distinguished Downstate alumni.
Straus’ successful medical career also included stints as the co-chair (with Yalow) of the department of clinical sciences at Albert Einstein; chief of digestive diseases at Downstate Medical Center; and co-chair of Downstate’s department of medicine. But he found it difficult to stay away from the research lab and continued his work on digestive and other hormones with radio isotopes for nearly two decades. In fact, although he did not do a fellowship in endocrinology, the Endocrine Society made him an honorary member because of his advances in that field.
Aside from his medical and research careers, Straus’ life has been filled with adventure, such as playing football at Brown University and raising a family on New York’s vibrant Upper West Side. Family life also included a vacation home in Carmel, New York, where Straus enjoyed riding motorcycles and horses. Son Alex tells the story of his father trading a motorcycle for a horse he admired on the spot; he soon became an equestrian and horse owner, and was a familiar sight in town riding in a surrey pulled by one of his horses.
For his life’s latest chapter of semi-retirement, Straus returned to Brooklyn. Alex said that the family looked at other communities but that Prospect Park Residence stood out for its quality of staff and its location. “One of my sisters and I live in Brooklyn and are able to visit Dad frequently,” he explained. “Prospect Park Residence is a fantastic place with fantastic people, an excellent staff from the top down,” he added.
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Dr. Straus seconds his son’s enthusiasm about the community’s staff as well as the programs. He particularly enjoys the News & Schmooze current events discussion group and spending time outdoors on the rooftop garden. “The activities here are very good and the community provides outstanding services to the residents,” he noted, pointing out that “the people who work here are all extraordinary. I grew up in Brooklyn, so this is a wonderful return to my old stomping grounds.”
Source: Press Release