Stanley Mirsky, M.D.
A mentor’s words can be remembered years after they are said. It was 1958, and Stanley Mirsky, M.D., had entered the U.S. Air Force and was en route to Spain. His teacher and mentor, Elliott P. Joslin, M.D., left him with these parting words: “I shall miss you, Dr. Mirsky. Please let us know when you’ll be back so we can take advantage of your cerebrum.” Like many mentors, Dr. Joslin could foresee the impact his student would have on his chosen field.
Birth of a Career
Growing up in Yonkers, N.Y., Dr. Mirsky became intimately involved with diabetes at a young age when his twin brother was diagnosed with the disease at 19 years old. Years later while in medical school at Northwestern University, he worked on a scientific experiment that revealed a connection between a high-fat diet and type 2 diabetes—light years before this relationship was fully explored—and a career in diabetes was born.
After medical school Dr. Mirsky did his postgraduate training under Dr. Joslin at what was then the Joslin Deaconess, becoming the first rotating Joslin Fellow. He recalls with a laugh that he had the high distinction of “living in the basement” of the hospital. After his training, Dr. Joslin facilitated his student’s relocation to New York City and a position at Mt. Sinai Hospital, where this Joslin alum is now a Clinical Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism. “I went to Mt. Sinai and had a ward of my own for six months,” recalls Dr. Mirsky. “And that’s where I taught Joslin’s treatment of tight control.”
Student Becomes Teacher
Dr. Mirsky has been treating diabetes patients the “Joslin way” ever since, and continues at age 76 to have an active and high-profile diabetes and primary care practice in New York City. He not only teaches his patients and residents Joslin’s credo that good blood glucose control equals good outcomes, he has written four books based on this premise, including the very popular Controlling Diabetes the Easy Way and the upcoming Diabetes: A Survival Guide.
“In the last 50 years, Joslin’s prophecy and teaching have been accepted,” observes Dr. Mirsky. “Education as stressed by Joslin has come to the fore,” he adds, and certainly someone close to him benefited from this education. His brother, a Joslin 50-Year Medalist, lived with diabetes for 55 years and as Dr. Mirsky explains, when he passed away it was not from diabetes complications.
Along with patient education, Dr. Mirsky, who is a Joslin Overseer and Joslin New York Council member, notes other advances, such as eye laser treatment pioneered at Joslin, have made a huge difference in the lives of people with diabetes. “We’re learning more about prevention,” he continues, “and new drugs will certainly come into play.”
The Little Tree with Dollar Bills
Devoted to his patients, his wife Susan, of 43 years, and his two children, Dr. Mirsky has also been a devoted diabetes supporter and advocate for decades. He served as the New York State President of the American Diabetes Association and is a long-time member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which gave him its Humanitarian Award in 1994.
Likewise, Dr. Mirsky is a dedicated supporter of Joslin Diabetes Center, and it seems only fitting that it was his mentor who inspired him to give back. As Dr. Mirsky remembers, there was a little tree in the waiting room of Dr. Joslin’s practice at 81 Bay State Road that had dollar bills clipped to it: “Dr. Joslin used to say, ‘I’d rather have one dollar from 1,000 people than $1,000 from one person,’ ” reflecting his goal to have as many people as possible invest in the disease.
This left an impression on Dr. Mirsky, who is a member of Joslin’s Elliott P. Joslin Society for this very reason. “The minute I got out of the Air Force, I gave a contribution to Joslin,” he says. “And ever since then I’ve been giving and trying to get other people to give.” His mentor would be proud.
Page last updated: May 21, 2013