Lennox Jeffers, MD, will be missed by all of us. He passed away on January 10th, 2020, surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues. He was an Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Miami and Chief of Hepatology at the Miami VA Medical Center. He also served as Associate Chief of the Center for Liver Diseases at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Len was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1944 to Leone LaCaille and Cecil Washington Jeffers. After his family immigrated to the United States, he attended Cardinal Hayes High school, where he developed a keen scientific interest in medical subjects and was determined to become a doctor. During his undergraduate studies at St. John's University during the summer, he served in the US Merchant Marines completing three tours of duty in Africa and Brazil. After earning his medical degree from Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York, Dr. Jeffers completed an internship and a residency at Harlem Hospital through Columbia University. Dr. Jeffers then spent time traveling in Colombia, assisting rural and disadvantaged communities of Cali and Buenaventura. He was a fellow in gastroenterology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx, New York, and a fellow in hepatology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Also, Dr. Jeffers attended the University of Padua in Italy to further his specialty education in diagnostic laparoscopy. In 1984 he married Alicia Dene Beck, and they have one daughter Jocelyn.
Dr. Jeffers' research interests were focused on the study of liver diseases, portal hypertension, and diagnostic laparoscopy. He was a principal investigator on numerous trials evaluating treatments for hepatitis B and hepatitis C, as well as studies on chronic hepatitis C sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). He was a pioneer in conducting clinical trials on new forms of therapies for the Hispanic and African American communities who had higher rates of hepatitis C but an inadequate response with standard treatment. Dr.Jeffers gave lectures all over the world on almost every continent, providing the medical community with the latest treatment protocols for liver disease.
He was one of the first physicians to perform diagnostic laparoscopy of the liver, which proved to be significant in the differential diagnosis of liver and gastrointestinal disease. He authored or co-authored 11 books and book chapters and has written more than 140 refereed original articles, published in journals that include The New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, Journal of Hepatology, American Journal of Gastroenterology, and Hepatology.
Len was the first African American Fellow of the American College of Physicians within the State of Florida. A grateful patient established a research fund in his name within the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He also received the Dr. Caroll Leevy award in 2014, and Teacher of The Year University of Miami Miller School of Medicine 1999. In 1991 he was a lead speaker for an international health conference in Trinidad. He was an honored guest of the Trinidadian Prime Minister, British Embassy, and the United States Embassy, along with a handful of selected top doctors globally. He served as a role model for all of us but particularly African Americans. He was a member of the American Medical Association, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, where he served as a Chairman of the Audit Committee. Dr. Jeffers was a member of the National Advisory Board for the NIDDK and frequently served as a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health.
On a personal note, I would admire how he would call the most outstanding physicians, even internationally, who were specialists in the field that was germane to his patients. They almost always responded with specific recommendations for these patients who truly loved him.
To honor Len, our Center is initiating an annual mentorship for young scientists: "Lennox Jeffers Visiting Professor."
Eugene Schiff, MD
Director, Schiff Center for Liver Diseases