Dr. Paul Auerbach, Father of Wilderness Drugs, Dies at 70

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Dr. Paul Auerbach, Father of Wilderness Medicine, Dies at 70

Dr. Auerbach said it was imperative to never get too comfortable when dealing with nature’s whims. “You have to be scared when you go to work,” he said. “You have to be humble.”

Paul Stuart Auerbach was born on January 4, 1951 in Plainfield, NJ. His father Victor was a patent manager at Union Carbide. His mother Leona (Fishkin) Auerbach was a teacher. Paul was a wrestling star in high school and grew up spending the summers on the Jersey Shore.

In 1973 he graduated from Duke with a bachelor’s degree in religion and then enrolled in Duke’s medical school. He met Sherry Steindorf at UCLA, whom they married in 1982. (In the 1980s he worked as a swimsuit model for the swimwear company Laguna.) Dr. Auerbach graduated from the Business School shortly before entering the medical faculty at Stanford University in 1991.

In addition to his wife, he has two sons, Brian and Daniel; one daughter, Lauren Auerbach Dixon; his mother; a brother, Burt; and a sister, Jan Sherman.

As he got older, Dr. Auerbach increasingly expanding wilderness medicine. When revising his textbook, he added sections on dealing with environmental disasters and co-wrote, with Jay Lemery, “Enviromedics: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health,” published in 2017.

Last year, just before he was diagnosed with cancer, the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold and Dr. Auerbach decided to act.

“The minute it all happened, he started disaster relief,” said his wife. “Hospitals ran out of PPE. He called on that person and that person to learn as much as possible. He wanted to find out how to make better masks and better ventilators. He never stopped. “

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