He was a founding member of the UCSD School of Medicine faculty and a leader in the field of international health and health policy; professor emeritus of Internal Medicine; and founding chief of the Division of Global Health. As one of the first faculty members recruited to UCSD School of Medicine in 1966, in advance of the 1968 charter class of students, Dr. Simon was integral in designing the school’s innovative curriculum and established many of its lasting programs.
Born in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1928, Simon emigrated to the U.S. in 1938 settling in San Francisco. After attending UC Berkeley, he was awarded the M.D. degree cum laude by Harvard Medical School. Subsequently, he was one of the first Jewish residents at Cornell/New York Hospital and was awarded the Ph.D. degree from Rockefeller University where he was a member of the charter class. He was on the faculty at Stanford University School of Medicine 1959-1966.
As UCSD School of Medicine’s first dean of admissions, education and student affairs, he established the procedures for recruitment and admission, student affairs, and curriculum development. His commitment to teaching students that understanding and respecting patients’ cultural backgrounds and belief systems are critically important aspects of providing effective healthcare was expressed through implementation of community-based and international programs for students.This included developing a medical Spanish and cross-cultural studies course that was the first of its kind in the country. He was an early champion of affirmative-action programs.
Dr. Simon established the Division of International Health for the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Sciences. He travelled extensively lecturing at medical schools throughout the world and as an advisor to many developing countries, helping them establish health education and healthcare systems. He was an 18-year member of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Board of Governors.
Dr. Simon authored eight books and more than 130 articles in refereed journals on infectious diseases, particularly host-parasitic interactions, medical education, health policy and cross-cultural issues. He was a fellow of numerous societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society of Medicine. He was a founding fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He received an honorary doctorate from Yokohama City University. The Harold Simon Chair in International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine at UCSD was endowed in his honor. In addition to his professional activities, Dr. Simon was an avid reader, skier, spontaneous road trip enthusiast, deep sea fisherman, military history expert, violinist, appreciator of nature, believer in Jewish values and competitive bridge player.
Dr. Simon is survived by his wife of 40 years Ruth Covell, M.D., their son David Simon, M.D. (Audrey Kim, M.D.) of Seal Beach; step-son Stephen Covell, Ph.D. (Ying Covell, Ph.D.) of Michigan; daughters, from his first marriage to Doris Livingston, Simon Grasshoff, Leslie Simon of La Jolla and Lynne Simon of Marin County; and grandchildren Adrienne and Portia Simon Krichman, Xiaoyi and Yixiang Covell, and Jonah Simon. He is also survived by his brother Ernest Simon M.D. He was predeceased by his sister Edith Coliver.
Burial at El Camino Memorial Park took place on Aug. 7. Donations may be made to The American Technion Society of San Diego, The Covell Geriatric Innovation and Education Fund (UCSD) or the Program on Gender Inequities and Global Health (UCSD).