Leon Goldman; Surgeon Was Pioneer in Laser Medicine


Dr. Leon Goldman, a dermatologist and surgeon who pioneered laser medicine and was the founding president of the American Society of Laser Medicine, has died. He was 91.

Goldman, who most recently practiced at the San Diego Naval Medical Center, died Tuesday of heart failure at a retirement home in Pacific Beach, Calif.

He was officially designated the Father of Laser Medicine in 1979 at the Opto-Elektronic Conference in Munich, Germany.

The author of six books on laser medicine, Goldman was quick to snare the innovative laser beam for medical applications.

In 1960, only a year after lasers were invented, he began his research at the University of Cincinnati and later established a laser technology laboratory at the school’s Medical Center.


Bloodless surgery using lasers greatly aids medicine, Goldman told The Times in 1973, particularly for such purposes as repairing livers and removing damaged tissue from burn wounds.

But surgeons at that time remained reluctant to try lasers, he said, because of a fear of new methods.

“It’s a pity,” he said, “as it interferes with progress.”

For years, Goldman advocated teaching laser surgery in medical schools with little success.

“We just should have kicked out the old medical school chiefs and gotten some new blood,” he told The Times in 1985.

As medical uses for lasers expanded, Goldman in off-duty moments experimented with laser art.

“I think it has unlimited potential,” he told Senior World six years ago.

“We can use an argon laser to get a white etching in red plastic. That was not possible before lasers.”

He also pioneered other concepts in dermatology, including treating warts as a contagious virus.

Born in Cincinnati, Goldman completed his medical education and residency and then taught and practiced at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center until 1980.

He then became head of the Laser Treatment Center of the Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati.

In addition to being founder and president of the American Society of Laser Medicine, Goldman was editor of its newsletter since 1980.

He was also president of the American Society of Dermatological Surgery, which in 1985 named its Leon Goldman Medal in his honor.

Goldman wrote more than 100 articles for medical journals as well as his books, including “The Biomedical Laser” and “Laser Medicine and Surgery in Dermatology.”

He is survived by his wife, Belle; daughter Carol of La Jolla; sons John of Atlanta and Steven of Tucson; and six grandchildren.

The family has asked that memorial contributions be made to the Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati Foundation, 425 Oak St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45219.