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November 26, 2009

Memorial: Richard (Buzz) Goodstein, MD -- Founder of the Good Guys

Buzz Goodstien Cropped

On this thanksgiving we have a lot to be thankful about and one thing that I am personally thankful for is that I was able to know Richard (Buzz) Goodstein, MD.

Buzz passed away this weekend from a long battle with advanced prostate cancer.

Buzz was an innovator and educator who career covered academia, media and industry.

He was one of those people you meet and say to yourself he has lived a full life.  He served as a mentor and friend to numerous people, and was the founder of the “Good Guys” a virtual organization that has worked to disseminate information on early detection of prostate cancer.  The goal of the “Good Guys” was to change the test for prostate cancer from a straight PSA number to changes in PSA velocity which is has greater specificity than straight PSA.

I first met Buzz at a Global Alliance for CME meeting in 1999, at that time he was playing his Clarinet and speaking on the music of medicine.   Later we became friends when he would regularly drop by my office when he was visiting Washington DC.  He always had kind things to say and was always interested in how you were doing as a friend.

Through the good guys, Buzz has served as an inspiration to many cancer patients and those of us involved in medical education.  He fought an admirable fight against prostate cancer which he eventually lost.

He was an honorable man, and a first class gentleman.  Since his deaths I have received dozens of emails all extolling how important he was in so many people’s lives.   We all want to leave a legacy, and it is clear that Buzz is leaving more than just a legacy but a long list of “good guys”.

A little about his life:

Dr. Goodstein graduated summa cum laude and magnum cum laude respectively from Valley Forge Military Academy, Wayne, PA and from the Honors College of Michigan State University where he had joint majors in biological sciences and telecommunications while attending both schools on full music scholarship.

Buzz received his medical training at George Washington University in Washington DC, he then joined the Navy and worked on space flight medicine doing clinical research for NASA while assigned from the US Naval Aerospace Medicine School, on the effects of weightlessness and magnetic fields upon the Mercury/Gemini Program astronauts and new astronaut selection. After graduation from GWU, he completed his medical internship at E. Sparrow Hospital, Michigan State University (where he did his undergraduate), and then earned his wings as a graduate of the US Naval Flight Surgeon School in Pensacola, FL.  He served on active duty in the “Regular” US Navy as Lieutenant Commander for four years in the positions of senior flight surgeon and senior medical officer for various aviation combat squadrons.

After leaving the Navy he completed three years post-doctoral psychiatry residency training at Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH.  He was then invited to join the Dartmouth College Medical School faculty where he remained for seven more years.

He was then recruited to the Carrier Clinic Foundation, the neuropsychiatry teaching hospital of The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where he was Deputy Medical Director and Senior Vice President for Education.  For ten years he was in charge of all training/education for employees, and graduate students from 25 affiliated colleges.

While at UMDNJ, Dr. Goodstein was the originator, executive producer, and on-camera moderator of the popular live, weekly CME satellite TV series titled, MIND and BODY, which was broadcast on HIN/HSN and later PBS from 1984-1990 to over 1,000 hospitals and 100 universities in the US and Canada.  As a by-product he also introduced computerized medical education and clinical data tracking to the Carrier Clinic.

He was then recruited by Merck and Company to develop the Professional Information, Communications, and Education areas headquartered within the Medical and Scientific Affairs Division. 

At Merck one of the things he was most proud of was helped develop and lead The Urban Health Alliance Initiative (a minority health 501(c) 3 Foundation), the Men’s Health Initiative, and The Healthy Aging Initiative.  Dr. Goodstein became a member of the AMA-Industry National Task Force on CME in 1990.

Dr. Goodstien was an innovator and saw the value of the internet very early on.  After the sale of Medco, in 1995 Dr. Goodstien became one of the founding Senior Vice Presidents for Physicians’ Online in Tarrytown, NY.  In that role he created new medical internet products and personal computer initiatives for all clinical disciplines as well as built alliances with professional organizations and customers as platforms for the use of Physicians’ Online products.  Physicians’ Online was later purchased by WebMD.

In 1997 Dr. Goodstein was recruited as Vice President of Scientific Relations at Bayer Corporation, Pharmaceutical Division, USA.  He was asked to conceive, develop, and lead a clinical science division which eventually totaled ten departments (including the Bayer Institute for Healthcare Communications – a 501(c)3 foundation with CE/CME accreditation) encompassing 230 professional staff representing the information scientists, clinical medicine educators, health economists, innovation teams, and all 130 medical science liaisons at Bayer.

He retired in 2006 and shortly after that was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.    Buzz continued to work for two more years, finishing in January 2007.  During that time he created a small internet working group called the good guys which was dedicated to advancing information around prostate cancer. 

Buzz set up small group luncheons around the country with no strings attached, to teach executives and others about prostate cancer.  In the coming days we will include links to copies of the emails and articles he passed around.  If you are a man over 45 and have not had your PSA checked, please do every year, and at the same time track what that number is, if you see it moving up by more than 1 point, you may have a problem, and should get checked out.

Buzz had a statement he would make that in many ways defines his life.

"Think, understand, feel, respond, pay forward" - Buzz Goodstein

 

Buzz Goodstien Child
Buzz as a child playing his clarinet

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In the early 1990s Merck & Co. was one of several business sponsors of my non-profit organization. When I learned I was to be visited by a Dr. Richard Goodstein I anticipated a typical corporate kicking-the-tires exercise to check up on a grantee organization. Man, I could not have been more wrong. In Buzz Goodstein I encountered one of the kindest, most selfless and genuinely uplifting souls of my career. Buzz led a remarkably consequential life as a physician, innovator and teacher. Yet you could wait a long time to catch Buzz talking about himself. He was almost pathologically helpful, offering cogent advice, thoughtful insights, and networking skills to accomplish worthy objectives. Buzz was an Olympic class Connector. These are the ones described by Malcolm Gladwell in "The Tipping Point" as people with a special gift for bringing the world together...a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack for making friends and acquaintances. Could there be a better description of the founder, energizer and central hub of "The Good Guys Club"? Even in retirement and when confronting the disease that would end his life, Buzz taught us all the nobility of fighting for better health, for advancing scientific knowledge, fostering better medical practices, and most of all to never, never, never, never give in. What a life! We are all lucky to have been touched by him.

I still am having a hard time thinking that our BUZZ is gone. Although he will live in the hearts and minds of many. Buzz hired me in 1982 as the director of staff development at Carrier Clinic. He was the best boss I ever had. He became a mentor,colleague and a wonderful friend over the next 27 years. He had a way of always making you feel very special and was always genuinely concerned about you and your life. My partner Milt was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2002 and Buzz helped us navigate the system and connect us with Dr. Scher who is a leading oncologist in this area at MSK. I will personally miss his sense of humor and his big heart. He probably is and will be the most formidable net worker I have ever known, I learned a lot from him and will always be grateful for having him in my life...Linda Rusch

Buzz was a wonderful friend and personal mentor over the course of 25 years. We were both psychiatrists at the Carrier Foundation. He recruited me into the pharmaceutical industry where I had the priviledge of working with him for six years. He was a rare blend of selflessness, intelligence, grace, professionalism and kindness. His greatest strength was the magic he made as a connector, introducing people and their potentials to one another. Buzz built the Good Guys club with that goal in mind. He always saw the bright side of life, always saw the positive in people, laughed heartily, and never complained despite the slings and arrows that at times came his way. His other great strength was vision, seeing opportunities and possibilities where others had not yet ventured. The Good Guys club was his vehicle to keep professionals connected and share possibilities and linkages in a non-threatening and supportive manner. Buzz made everyone who met him feel special, and he had an uncanny abiltiy to touch others, empathize and inspire. His work highlighting the PSA velocity issue was only one of many selfless acts in a lifetime of giving and caring for others, educating others, and improving healthcare through knowledge and innovation. He was a truly remarkable man, graceful, joyous, inspired and kind. His memory is best served by emulating and living these same spirited characteristics.

I met Buzz more than 20 years ago. When I discovered the good guys it was an amazing network of people helping people. Soon after meeting Buzz, I remember mentioning to him that I had a project that I was trying to execute but I hit a snag. Buzz gave me a couple of names and numbers and said just call, tell them you're one of the good guys and I'm sure they will offer you some terrific support. He was right. Over the years whether I was the one seeking help or another was seeking help, knowing that we were good guys always meant you would be warmly received and you would either get the support needed or provide the support needed. I think he enjoyed being the catalyst for so many people to connect and advance good works. I always enjoyed brainstorming ideas with Buzz because he was always eager to be a force to make good ideas become real. I hope that the good guys will find a way to continue in the spirit that Buzz had created it.

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