An Obituary for a Very Unique Colleague: Jeffrey J. Braverman, MD 1959-2019

We mourn the premature passing of Jeffrey J, Braverman, MD, 59, an in many ways truly unique colleague, with whom especially CHR’s Medical Director and Chief Scientist, Norbert Gleicher, MD, had the opportunity to collaborate on a number of occasions over many decades. He passed away peacefully on Monday, April 29, 2019 at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Admitted to New York University for undergraduate studies at age 14, he was honored at age 19 in 1979 as the university’s youngest ever graduate at the time. By 1983, at age 23, he graduated from what now is the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where Dr. Gleicher met Jeffrey for the first time because between 1979 and 1981 Dr. Gleicher was the full-time faculty member in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, under Chairman Saul B. Gusberg, MD, responsible for all medical student and resident education in Ob/Gyn at what was called Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Dr. Gleicher in those years also led at Mount Sinai the first independent departmental Division of Reproductive Immunology in the world and, in the summer of 1979, organized at Mount Sinai the 1st International Reproductive Immunology Congress, which led to the establishment of the American Society for Reproductive Immunology (ASRI) and its official journal, the American Journal for Reproductive Immunology (AJRI), which Dr. Gleicher had the honor of editing as its founding editor-in-chief for 20 years. While Dr. Braverman was a medical student at Mount Sinai, the institution, thus, became the cradle of a new sub-specialty in Ob/Gyn, which Dr. Braverman later in life started actively pursuing.

Dr. Braverman completed his residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and then decided to start private practice. We are unclear what ultimately led him into his life-long interest in reproductive immunology, but, by the early to mid-1990s, he in pretty regular intervals called Dr. Gleicher, who by then was Chairman of the Obstetrics & Gynecology department at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, always inquiring about certain issues in reproductive immunology or asking for Dr. Gleicher’s opinion regarding certain patients with apparent immune problems.

Those calls declined over time, as Dr. Braverman developed an increasing reputation in the area of reproductive immunology and developed a thriving private practice, which later also expanded into in vitro fertilization (IVF) and was appropriately called Braverman IVF & Reproductive Immunology.

As Braverman was developing some innovative concepts in treating immunological problems in reproductive medicine and claiming improved success with these treatments, Gleicher tried to convince him to publish these data. He, indeed, a few years ago even arranged for the visit of a well-known expert in reproductive immunology from outside the U.S., with the idea of helping Braverman to analyze and publish his data. Unfortunately, Dr. Braverman was never really motivated to participate in research and publish papers until in 2015 a new opportunity arose, though this opportunity was significantly removed from reproductive immunology.

It presented itself, when, after in 2014 for the first time questioning the ability of preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) to reliably determine which embryos can be transferred and which must be disposed of [now renamed preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A)], CHR selectively started transferring chromosomal “abnormal” embryos. Braverman immediately understood the rationale behind this decision and enthusiastically joined CHR and colleague Andrea Vidali, MD, in a practice and publication consortium conducting such transfers. Some of Braverman’s patients were, therefore, part of CHR’s initial publications on this subject, unfortunately his only publications since 1990, when still at Albert Einstein.

The tragedy of Dr. Braverman’s death is further emphasized by missed opportunities for the field of reproductive immunology to learn from the large data sets he, undoubtedly, has accumulated over his career. In science, no credit is ever given to people who do not publish their research accomplishments, so that colleagues are given the opportunity to confirm claims. The ultimate purpose of this reality, of course, is to benefit as many patients as possible by offering them treatments supported by adequate evidence. To do that, oral claims must be confirmed.

Dr. Braverman would not have accumulated such a large following all over the U.S., and even overseas, had he not been successful in his advice and treatments. The Internet has made clinical practice more transparent, and usually, sooner or later, “outs” providers of “fake scientific news.” We, therefore, hope that Dr. Braverman’s successor in this very successful practice will give qualified experts in the field the opportunity to analyze Dr. Braverman’s materials in scientifically valid ways. The results, whatever they will be, will honor him in his death and, ultimately, benefit patients which, in itself, is really the best way to maintain his memory.

This is a part of the May 2019 CHR VOICE.

Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.