Dr. Merkatz, Chairman of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health, is internationally known both for his research accomplishments and his long-standing leadership within the field. Currently, he is the longest serving and most senior chair within his discipline in the United States. His research and clinical focus originates in the field of high-risk pregnancy and pregnancy complications. This expertise includes diabetes in pregnancy, the management and treatment of premature labor, the use of screening tools to identify pregnancy risk, the employment of standardized obstetrical recordkeeping and computerized systems, and, perhaps most significantly, prenatal diagnostic screening. Dr. Merkatz’ landmark discovery of the relationship between maternal serum alpha fetoprotein and the risk of Down syndrome in the offspring has reshaped the content of prenatal care.
When the advent of high-technology care made it possible to save low-birth weight babies intact so that they can thrive, Dr. Merkatz helped lead the regionalization of perinatal services across the United States. This was originally necessary since not every hospital could have sufficient staff and equipment to provide the needed intensive care. With regionalization, services can now be organized in levels by geographic access, whereby women at highest risk for delivering a low-birth weight baby can be identified early and transferred to facilities with the capabilities to provide appropriate care. In this way, a level III hospital, for example—often at academic medical centers like Einstein’s University Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center—treats the neediest infants in a neonatal (newborn) intensive care unit and then returns them to their local community for follow up.
Completing his third decade in the post at Einstein, Dr. Merkatz continues to build a department that serves women and families of all socio-demographic backgrounds with dignity and compassion. Toward that end, he has established an effective network of care throughout the Bronx and southern Westchester. He has developed specialized areas within the department to deal with issues of women’s health throughout the lifespan. For example, specialized services exist for patients with infertility; high-risk pregnancy; female cancers; disorders of urinary continence and pelvic floor structures; genetics, gynecologic complications such as fibroid uterus, endometriosis, and pelvic pain. His trainees and former graduates have assumed leadership roles throughout the New York metropolitan region and beyond. Additionally, those young men and women physician specialists who have chosen to join the department in pursuit of their careers have, in turn, integrated Einstein’s basic sciences and translational research into the department’s clinical culture. Their independent research interests and accomplishments have brought credit to Dr. Merkatz, his department and the College of Medicine.