Remembering Dr. David M. Roseman

Dr. David M. Roseman Headshot

Dr. David M. Roseman devoted his 93 years of life to helping others. But one achievement stands out the most: his more than 60 years making a difference in the lives of people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

Throughout his career as a gastroenterologist in Southern California, Dr. Roseman participated in the development of several milestone improvements in the management of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These innovations were key in enhancing diagnostic and treatment processes for patients with IBD.  However, his family, friends, and countless patients remember him most for his unfailing dedication to helping others anytime and anywhere. One could say that this was an innate dedication for Dr. Roseman—given his uncle was Dr. Burrill B. Crohn, who made the first major advances to identify the disease that now bears his name.  

Dr. Roseman and his children

Dr. Roseman’s children, Jonathan “Jon” Roseman and Anne Varick “Vara” Lauder, have established the Dr. David M. Roseman Memorial Fund not only to honor their father’s legacy by furthering the search for IBD cures, but to show that behind the name Crohn is a family who cares deeply about people living with IBD. 

“We want to make sure people don’t forget what truly caring doctors are all about and what they can accomplish in this life, especially in terms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis,” Jon said. 

Dr. Roseman’s career

Dr. Roseman practiced what Jon describes as an “old school” approach to medicine, complete with house calls and a more personal style that is difficult to uphold in the present day. As one of the first physicians in Southern California to introduce gastroscopy, colonoscopy, and other endoscopy techniques, Dr. Roseman made great strides in helping people with IBD get properly diagnosed and manage their disease.

In his gastroenterology practice in La Jolla, CA, Dr. Roseman built a reputation for being a thorough, caring physician who assessed his patients’ health as a whole—not just their gastrointestinal issues. One of Dr. Roseman’s key skills was his ability to diagnose correctly, and he became known for spending a significant amount of time with new patients during their initial consultation.

“As a result of this approach, he saved many lives,” Vara said. “He was very much into checking and re-checking, testing and re-testing, while looking at the body as a whole.” 

In addition to practicing privately, Dr. Roseman was Chief of Gastroenterology at the VA Hospital and Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, where he later served for several years as both Chief of Medicine and Chief of Staff. He was also a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego, and his work was published in multiple medical journals and gastroenterology textbooks. Known for mentoring younger doctors who were interested in gastroenterology, Dr. Roseman gave these physicians patient referrals and opportunities to develop their careers.  In addition, he served as a consultant on difficult cases for his colleagues. Dr. Roseman continued to help patients and consult on cases well after his retirement, at age 86, in 2014.

Dr. Roseman in Fiji (2)

Dr. Roseman’s desire to help others knew no boundaries—literally. When his son Jon’s career took him to Tavarua Island in Fiji, Dr. Roseman immediately became active in the local Fijian medical community—donating endoscopy equipment and supplies, as well as donating his own time doing rounds in the hospitals there that were in dire need of assistance. He also brought Fijian patients with acute illnesses back to the US for advanced treatment. 

Dr. Roseman’s dedication led to both Jon and Vara becoming actively involved in the Greater San Diego & Desert Area Chapter of the Foundation.

Dr. Roseman’s Involvement with the Foundation

In 1979, Dr. Roseman was a key figure in the establishment of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Greater San Diego & Desert Area Chapter, known at the time as the National Foundation for Ileitis & Colitis. 

“He wanted to help patients at the local level,” Vara said of her father. “He started the conversation about something that was difficult to talk about and had all sorts of stigmas attached. I think he recognized that the best way forward was to raise funds because it was crucial to the early days of research in the field.” 

Dr. Roseman and Rolf

Rolf Benirschke, an ulcerative colitis patient and professional football player for the San Diego Chargers, partnered with Dr. Roseman to establish the Greater San Diego & Desert Area Chapter. Rolf’s fame was instrumental in helping attract national attention and awareness as the chapter was formalized.

“Your father was a classic, empathetic physician that cared for his patients,” Rolf recently told Vara. “He poured his heart into the chapter, and the people who suffer from the disease.”

Looking to the future

Jon and Vara not only see their father’s memorial fund as a way to keep his legacy alive, but also as an opportunity to continue their support of the Foundation as their family has for five decades. They hope their father’s example will inspire others.  

“The impetus behind this is to highlight our dad’s achievements, while at the same time furthering his work to help patients,” Vara said. "We would like people to know that behind this disease is a family that cares.” 

To contribute to the Dr. David M. Roseman Memorial Fund, click here