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Michael Lesch

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Michael Lesch (June 30, 1939 – March 19, 2008) was a distinguished American physician and medical educator who helped identify a genetic disorder associated with self-mutilation known today as the Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. In the early 1960s when they discovered the syndrome, Lesch was a medical student at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bill Nyhan, a pediatrician and biochemical geneticist, was his mentor.

Michael Lesch was born in Queens in New York City. He attended Columbia University, graduating summa cum laude, before entering the medical school at Hopkins. After receiving his medical degree, Dr. Lesch became an internist and specialized in cardiology.

Dr. Lesch held a number of prestigious posts. He served as chief of cardiology at Northwestern University's medical school in Chicago and then as the chair of medicine at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. In 1998 he was named chairman of Department of Medicine at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City and Professor of Medicine there at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Lesch died unexpectedly in his sleep while in Argentina on a fishing trip to the Gallegos river. He is survived by his wife, Bella Lesch, two children (Leah Lesch and Ian Lesch) and six grandchildren.

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