In Memoriam: Jerald Silverman, DVM, MS

Jerald Silverman, DVM, MS

A year ago, on November 14, 2020, the IACUC community tragically lost a cherished member, Jerald Silverman, DVM, MS, who passed away due to complications of COVID-19 at the age of 78. Jerry, as he was widely known, was a fixture in the laboratory animal community. He was a longtime professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in addition to previous positions at Hahnemann University, The Ohio State University, and the American Health Foundation.

Jerry was perhaps best known in the research animal community for his regular column in Lab Animal called “Protocol Review.” In each issue of the journal, Jerry posted a hypothetical scenario designed “to probe the grey areas of US animal research rules and regulations in his monthly Protocol Review column,” as the journal’s editors described it. These situations, usually transpiring at the fictional Great Eastern University, were a vital resource in the lab animal community as they learned and explored the animal research regulations. PRIM&R was proud to share the column in our Research Ethics Digest publication.

Jerry was given a place on the AAALAS Foundation Memorial Wall of Honor, described there as a “compassionate friend and colleague, Jerry was also a skilled veterinarian, teacher, administrator, author, IACUC expert, and animal welfare advocate.”

Here, we have gathered words from a few members of the PRIM&R community who knew Jerry well. We welcome your own memories and kind words about Jerry in the comments below.

“I have been inspired by Jerry from my vet school days forward. I loved my time on 4th year rotation with Jerry and his team at UMASS, always looked forward to his lectures at Tufts, studied every Lab Animal column and read the IACUC Handbooks cover to cover. He provided a lamp post for us to navigate through the grey zones and I’m so thankful. A highlight of AALAS for me each year was running into Jerry on the walk to the conference center or between sessions and having impromptu catch ups—he always had the most wonderful, provocative questions, “what do you think about….”  I remember attending a conference session focused on the ethics of animals in research. The speakers talked about philosophy, history, and laws, and then Jerry stood up at the microphone and said “We do it because we can.”  I was in awe then and have been inspired ever since to be mindful of the power difference in our work with lab animals and remain committed to do the best we can by the animals needed for research, every day. I will greatly miss his mentorship, his leadership, scholarship and expertise, his courageous candor, and his warmth.”

Jennie Lofgren DVM, MS, DACLAM | Global Head of Animal Welfare and Compliance, Novartis

I still find myself glancing at my copy of The IACUC Handbook and reflecting back on the 15 years of my career spent with the man who’s name stares back at me from the cover. While so many of his contributions to our field are memorialized in the literary library he helped generate, the personal impact Jerry had on his students, staff and colleagues is what I remember the most. While I never participated in a formal residency program after veterinary school, having Jerry as a mentor served as a Laboratory Animal Residency, Debate Club, Analytical Writing Course, and NY Culinary College (with a strong focus on pizza) all rolled into one! He was a constant source of education, inspiration, exasperation, and laughter. Jerry leaves a legacy unlike any other.

Denice O’Connell, DVM, DACLAM | Director, Global Animal Welfare, AbbVie

“This month marks the first anniversary of Dr. Jerry Silverman’s death. His death has been a huge loss to the IACUC community. His contributions came in many forms as an author, editor, columnist and scientist. In those roles, he always strived to bring clarity, consistency and consideration to the humane use and care of research animals. Even after he is gone, his contributions, such as the two books he edited and authored, and the columns he wrote in Lab Animal remain as living examples of his contributions to IACUC and Vivarium operations. Thank you, Jerry!  We rejoice for the contributions you have made to our community. May your soul rest in peace.”

Sreekant Murthy, Ph.D. | Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine; Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine

Years ago when Jerry was in Philadelphia, he hosted an NIH OPRR workshop on implementing the PHS Policy. He met those of us on the faculty at the hotel to take us to dinner at one of his favorite Italian restaurants. To get there we had to take a rather circuitous route… Jerry was so engrossed with talking to one person that he had no real notion of our challenging route; he was one to always give his undivided attention to the people around him, making sure they felt seen and heard.

Taylor Bennett, DVM, PhD, DACLAM, DACAW | Management Consultant