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Jules Amer, MD

1924-2017


The community of the Barbara Davis Center and the Children’s Diabetes Foundation is saddened by the loss of Dr. Jules Amer, an admired and well-loved Denver pediatrician who passed away at home surrounded by his wife, Marilyn, and his family shortly before his 93rd birthday. Dr. Amer was the first friend of the Barbara Davis Center before there was a Barbara Davis Center and he even named the “Children’s Diabetes Foundation.” He was the pediatrician for many of Denver’s most prominent families, but he joined an office in central Denver to be available to families of much more modest means.

Dr. Amer was the pediatrician for the Davis family when their daughter, Dana, then 7 years old, came to see him because she was wetting her bed. There was no diabetes history in the family so they came to Dr. Amer for help, not knowing what the symptoms meant. He quickly made the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and, to ensure they got the best care, he got in a car with Dana and Barbara to drive over to Dr. Donough O’Brien’s office. After this initial appointment, Jules decided that Marvin, Barbara, and Dana Davis should go to the Joslin Clinic, which was the oldest and most recognized diabetes center in the US at the time, to be sure they saw the ‘best in the country’.  He anticipated and hoped that the Davises would be impressed by the facilities they saw there and he was absolutely correct!

When they returned to Denver, the Davis family asked ‘Why isn’t there a diabetes center in Denver?’  and Dr. Amer encouraged them to create one. With Dr. Donough O’Brien, who would become the first Executive Director of the Barbara Davis Center, he helped the Davis family establish a diabetes center at the University of Colorado to provide the best, most comprehensive care to children with diabetes and also to provide a Research Unit that would work to understand the autoimmunity of diabetes that would lead to a cure for diabetes.

Dr. Amer also understood that a type 1 diabetes diagnosis never affects one person. It affects the entire family and, therefore, each family member needs to feel heard and cared for. This idea remains strong through the Barbara Davis Center’s and the Children’s Diabetes Foundation’s missions as they seek to provide care for the patient and their family to make sure they are able to thrive physically, emotionally, and socially. This initial diagnosis in particular is a stressful time for people and coming to a Center that is warm and understanding can make a world of difference for a family.

The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes has grown to be the largest type 1 diabetes center in the US and is recognized nationally and internationally as one of the best centers for diabetes care and research. Throughout his life, Dr. Amer continued to be a strong supporter of the Center and served on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Diabetes Foundation from its founding in 1978. 

“He was the most wonderful human being,” Barbara Davis said. “I never met a more devoted, dedicated doctor.” These thoughts are echoed by her daughter, Dana Davis, now the Executive Director of the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, who remains grateful for all of Jules’s care throughout her childhood and beyond. Dana fondly remembers Dr. Amer riding up to her home on his bicycle for her follow-up appointments. He would always do whatever it took to care for his patients. 

Jules received his BA in chemistry from the University of North Carolina and his MD from the University of Cincinnati. He received the Intern of the Year Award at New York City Metropolitan Hospital in 1950 and subsequently did a residency in pediatrics at Queens General Hospital and Contagion Center. Dr. Amer came to Denver in 1952 with his bride, Marilyn, to study an outbreak of Western Equine Encephalitis for the CDC’s Epidemiologic Intelligence Service. A year later, he joined the Children’s Medical Clinic, a private pediatric office, where he practiced pediatrics in Denver for almost 60 years, retiring in 2009.

 

Dr. Amer was also very involved in Children’s Hospital Colorado. Over the years, he was Chief of Medicine, President of the Medical Staff, and Lifetime Member of the Board of Directors. His leadership was instrumental in the creation of many of its programs, including: Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, Neonatology, Pediatric Intensive Care, and the Children’s Hospital Research Center.

In recognition of his many contributions, the Jules Amer Chair in Community Pediatrics was established to promote the health and well-being of all Colorado’s children. At the establishment of the Barbara Davis Center, his involvement in both Children’s Hospital and the University Hospital encouraged the University pediatric diabetes program and the Children’s Hospital diabetes program to come together at the newly formed Barbara Davis Center to create one strong pediatric program.

Jules Amer believed that, as physicians, when we encounter parents and their children, many in difficult circumstances, as they open-up to us and we to them, we learn to see the humanity in everyone. And as we learn about our patients, we also learn something about ourselves. Only by doing this can we truly care for children and their families. Most importantly, Jules Amer inspired us to emulate his commitment to care for the “sick and the poor” – the individual child in our care at any moment, as well as all children who are often left without an advocate when economic and political decisions are made. Jules taught generations of physicians, nurses, office staff and anyone who would listen, the importance of, not just providing care, but of caring about every child, every problem, and every person from the heart. Dana Davis provides the best tribute to Dr. Amer: “He became a doctor because he truly cared about people.”  He will be long remembered by all of us at the Barbara Davis Center.