A Tribute to Joshua Arden Hemmerich, 1975-2015

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing on March 25, 2015 of Joshua Hemmerich, SMDM member since 2005 and Editor-in-Chief of the SMDM e-Newsletter since 2013.

Josh was born on April 2, 1975 in Berea, OH and attended Olmsted Falls High School '93'. He received a B.A. in psychology, with a minor in neuroscience from Baldwin Wallace College '96' and completed his PhD work in cognitive psychology with a secondary focus in statistics, methods and measurement at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Josh was a Cognitive Scientist and medical researcher on the Faculty of the University of Chicago. He regularly published in geriatric, cancer and psychology journals such as the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Journal of Vascular Surgery, Medical Care, and Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Josh was also a very active member of SMDM.  We note, in particular, his outstanding contributions to the Society as Deputy Editor of the e-Newsletter from 2011 and Editor-in-Chief since 2013.  He was always helpful and welcoming to others and provided high quality feedback to e-Newsletter contributors during the course of his editorship.

Josh attended every North American meeting in recent years and presented numerous abstracts from 2007 on.  Josh was also a member of the Clinical Research Integrity Interest Group and served on the Publications Committee.

Josh will be very much missed. On behalf of the Society, we extend our deepest condolences to Josh’s family, friends and colleagues. His family has asked that donations in Josh's memory be made to the Olmsted Community Church in Olmsted Falls, Ohio or to your favorite charity.

Ahmed M. Bayoumi
President, SMDM

Dana L. Alden
Deputy SMDM Newsletter Editor


Personal Reflections on Joshua Hemmerich as a Colleague and Friend

Joshua Hemmerich, PhD, was the first project manager I hired following receipt of my first grant after joining the faculty at the University of Chicago in 2004.  He was recommended to me by Julie Goldberg, PhD, a member of the Society of Medical Decision Making with whom Josh had worked at the University of Illinois-Chicago.  As a cognitive psychologist with significant training in statistics, Josh was a perfect fit for my research agenda on the role of emotions in medical decision making for older cancer patients. Over the next decade, we became well-matched research colleagues as well as close friends.

Over that decade we co-authored 25 papers and successfully competed for several grants. We also shared innumerable conversations about life growing up in small towns in the Midwest, especially about playing sports under the demanding eyes of tough-love fathers.  Over the years, we attended many SMDM conferences together, and we even managed to attract one of the Founding Fathers of the field, Arthur Elstein, PhD, to join us as a mentor and a collaborator.  We both marveled at our good-fortune to get to know such an important scholar who is also a very supportive mentor.  We continued to build our respective careers, with Josh becoming the Research Manager for our Section of Geriatrics & Palliative Medicine, and then joining our Faculty as our first PhD-only hire, an unusual ascension for a staff member.  When I became the Section Chief, we continued to expand our research, as Josh began building his own independent career, including as the Newsletter Editor for SMDM.  Although we had increasingly less time to share on non-work-related discussions, we both looked forward to contributing more to the field of medical decision making.

With his untimely passing, coming as a shock to us all, I will deeply miss having Josh around, both personally and professionally.  In many ways, I am still struggling to figure out how to move our shared agenda ahead without him.  He was a uniquely gifted person, combining the insights of a psychologist with the acumen of an excellent statistician.  And for such a talented person, he was very down-to-earth and friendly, quick to tell a joke or shoot the breeze about the latest in Cleveland versus Chicago sports.

One thing many may not know about Josh was his love of books.  When I stopped by his office to chat, I always admired his eclectic collection of books on a wide range of topics from statistics to cancer to history, psychology, and (of course) decision making.  To honor Josh’s memory, we have gathered the books he left behind and created the Joshua Hemmerich Memorial Library, which now lives for all to enjoy in our section conference room.  Contributions in support of the Memorial Library are welcome.  For more information please contact me via email: wdale@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu.

William Dale, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Chief, Section of Geriatrics & Palliative Medicine
Director, SOCARE Clinic
University of Chicago


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