Dr. Robert H. Ackerman

Dr. Robert H. Ackerman

June 1st, 1935 - December 18th, 2018
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ACKERMAN, Robert "Bob", MD. June 1, 1935 - December 18, 2018. Dr. Robert H "Bob" Ackerman of Cambridge, MA and Gloucester MA, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on December 18, 2018. He was 83 years old. Dr. Ackerman, the son of the late Myron and Leona Ackerman, was raised in New York City, N.Y. He is survived by his step-brother Alan Rosenthal (Bethesda, MD) and his nieces, nephews, cousins and other close relations from the Ackerman family (located throughout the US), the Ackerman-Prill family (Seattle, WA), the Rosenthal families (Atlanta, GA and Easton, MD) and the Frank Family (New Orleans, LA) as well as by his many friends located in the Boston metro area, Gloucester Massachusetts and other cities across the globe.

Dr. Ackerman had an incredibly successful medical career that spanned a number of different disciplines. Dr. Ackerman worked tirelessly in pioneering research in the fields of stroke imaging and prevention, including private patient practice, consulting with private companies, and in educating students and faculty in the field of medicine.

In 2013, Massachusetts General Hospital honored Dr. Ackerman by renaming the MGH Neurovascular Laboratory to The R.H. Ackerman Neurovascular Lab. At that time, Dr. Ackerman was Chairman Emeritus of this lab that he personally founded in 1974 to become the first non-invasive lab in the country dedicated to using ultrasound to understand blood flow to the brain to identify patients at risk or who have experienced stroke. For several decades, Dr. Ackerman conducted some of his most important pioneering research in this lab and led its growth while also improving and saving patients’ lives as a Radiologist and Neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Ackerman’s major interests have been in stroke disease, especially in the application of radiologic tools to improve identification and treatment of stroke-prone and acute stroke patients. He helped pioneer the development of non-invasive modalities for the diagnosis of carotid disease and the use of positron emission tomography in the study of ischemic stroke and, was the program director of the National Institutes of Health funded Interdepartmental Stroke Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.
He was also an Associate Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School and a member of their medical school admissions faculty for many years. In the early 1990s, Dr. Ackerman was a Distinguished Scientist at the Department of Radiologic Pathology of the Armed Forces Institute. Throughout his career, he was certified by the American Board of Radiology (Diagnostic Radiology) and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (Neurology.)

In the spirit of a true renaissance man, Dr. Ackerman pursued his personal interests with passion. An avid rower, Dr. Ackerman often competed in the Head of The Charles in Cambridge, Massachusetts as well as other best in class competitions such as Henley Royal Regatta in England. He was a highly regarded member of the Cambridge Yacht Club and, the Eastern Point Yacht Club in Gloucester Massachusetts. In addition, Dr. Ackerman was known for his love of creating and growing very sophisticated beautiful gardens, writing stories, and playing the piano. He traveled extensively around the globe to meet with patients, friends, and medical profession colleagues that he personally taught and trained. And, prior to his admission to medical school, Dr. Ackerman worked as a reporter for the Providence, RI, Journal-Bulletin and The Manchester Guardian in England.

For many years, he served on several advisory boards and sponsored notable charities including well known public and private organizations throughout the Boston metro area.

Dr. Ackerman received his BA degree from Brown University in 1957 and his MD degree from the University of Rochester Medical School in 1964. He interned at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, Cooperstown, NY and completed his residencies in Neurology (1970) and radiology (1975) at the Massachusetts General Hospital. From 1970 to 1971, he was the Massachusetts General Hospital Dalton Scholar at the Neurological Institute Queen Square, London where he studied cerebral blood flow techniques. Dr. Ackerman spent his childhood in New York City, NY and graduated high school at The Horace Mann School in Riverdale, NY. Upon discovering that the school did not have a school song, he wrote one; it is still being sung by students and alumni today.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to any Scholarship Fund at the University of Rochester Medical School in Rochester, NY 14642.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday January 27th, 2019 at 11 am at the Story Chapel of Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
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Service Details

  • Memorial Service

    Sunday, January 27th, 2019 | 11:00am
    Sunday, January 27th, 2019 11:00am
    Story Chapel at Mount Auburn Cemetery
    580 Mount Auburn Street
    CAMBRIDGE, MA 02138
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Mount Auburn Cemetery
    580 Mount Auburn Street
    Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Private Condolence

Dr. Paul Katz

Posted at 03:39pm
I was truly saddened to hear of Dr. Ackerman's passing. He was a notable stroke neurologist who did pioneering work in the field of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism and headed the lab at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School for many years. On a personal note he was a true mentor, scholar, friend, and gentleman. I first became acquainted with him in as a senior medical student working in his lab under a grant from the American Heart Association. This formed the basis of a long time relationship in which he played a major role in my career development, first as one of his many stroke fellows and continuing throughout my career. He was a critical thinker and exacting in his presentation of scientific principles. Yet, he was kind and supportive to those he taught. Much of what he taught me remains in the forefront of my mind and is used on a daily basis with my own students and residents. My deepest condolences to his family. He will truly be missed.

DR.Ahmed Al-Sinan, Radiologist. Saudi Arabia.

Posted at 06:23pm
As a resident at MGH, radiology department, 1995-1999, I was lucky to have spent one full month with Dr. Ackerman in his neurosonology lab and in particular learning from him carotid ultrasound scanning and interpretation and attending his review sessions of transcranial doppler and the carotid studies with fellows and volunteer students. Dr.Ackerman was an extremely capable neuroradiologist, active and fun to work with. His passion, dedication and extreme enthusiasm to his specialty was beyond description. During the time I practiced radiology before I retired early, his name was frequently mentioned in our carotid ultrasound case discussions. My deep condolences to his family and friends for this trajic departure from this mundane world to the eternal life in the hereafter. He is truely a gentleman and a great teacher to be missed.

Andy and Susan Anderson

Posted at 08:53pm
Bob Ackerman was to us a special man who supported us through a serious accident. He was already a dear rowing friend and lovely personality. All who knew him were Blessed! What an outstanding gentle brilliant yet humble and generous spirit! God Bless him in eternity.

Posted at 04:42pm
My brother Jonathan has summed up our friendship with Doctor Bob so beautifully below. He was so kind, charming, interesting and such wonderful company. We were very lucky our Aunt Helen brought him into our lives. He really was like an adoptive uncle to us. He made a point of visiting Ireland every time he was in Europe for a conference or a cross country skiing expedition. He even made it over the water to my wedding. As Jonathan said he had a wonderful rapport with my eldest son Hogan. The two of them could chat away about all sorts of nothing for ages. So very happy in each other’s company.

I loved the twinkle in his eye when he laughed his big hearty laugh and I loved that everything was ‘tremendous’. Rest in peace darling Doctor Bob. We love you. Amber Byrne (nee O’Grady)

Jonathan W O'Grady

Posted at 12:01pm
The news of Dr Bob's sad demise only reached the O'Grady's in Ireland this week, and such sorry news it was.

We came to know Bob through our relation, Helen Hogan. Bob and Helen had a long and happy friendship. Helen's grandnephew, Jonathan, subsequently attended Harvard Business School, and Bob was so generous to Jonathan during his time in Cambridge. In the years that followed, Bob visited the O'Grady family in Ireland on a number of occasions and was as much sought after dinner guest on these trips. He was particularly fond of Jonathan's sister, Amber and her eldest son Hogan.

Erudite, charming and handsome, Bob encapsulated the finest traditions of his generation. He was a remarkable individual, and will be so sadly missed by all who knew him. On the half of the O'Grady family and Bob's many friends in Ireland, we extend our deepest sympathies to his extended family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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