Dr. Raps of Neurology, 38; Leader in Stroke Care and Research

Dr. Eric C. Raps, one of the nation's leaders in the prevention and treatment of stroke, died Wednesday at the age of 38.

The William N. Kelley Associate Professor of Neurology at the School of Medicine, who was also director of the Stroke and Neurointensive Care Divsion at HUP, died of a self-inflicted overdose of medication, a Health System spokesperson said Friday.

"Dr. Raps' unexpected and tragic death represents not only a profound loss to the medical profession, but a personal loss as well to his many, many friends and colleagues at Penn and around the nation," said the Health System statement.

A 1982 alumnus of Harvard, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1982, Eric Corey Raps took his medical degree four years later from PennMed, where he won numerous honors including the Spencer Morris Award given to the year's best medical student. He completed a residency in neurology at HUP, then became a Fellow in critical care and emergency neurology at Columbia's Neurological Institute.

In 1991, the year he returned to Penn as assistant professor, he became director of HUP's stroke and neurointensive care unit. His reputation and esteem spread rapidly, and Philadelphia magazine named him to its lists of "Top Doctors of Philadelphia" in 1994 and again in 1996. He was elected to the American Academy of Neurology and the American Neuirologic Association, among other organizations, and published more than 50 papers in his field.

Dr. Raps made significant advances in the management of critically-ill patients with neurologic disease, and conducted extensive research aimed at developing better treatment strategies for the management of stroke victims. One study, still being followed up, suggested a potential link between common decongestants and strokes in young people, according to a colleague, Dr. Steven Galetta, the Van Peter Professor of Neurology.

"From the time he was a medical stduent, it was clear that he would become one of the great leaders in neurology," Dr. Galetta told the Philadelphia Inquirer, calling Dr. Raps "a superstar physician" who was at the same time deeply compassionate. "You could feel his actual hurt for his patients' suffering," Dr. Galetta said. "He deeply internalized their pain. He was one of the most generous and giving individuals I ever met."

Dr. Raps is survived by his wife, Maureen McBride Raps; their son, Daniel; his parents, Nathan and Cecile Pollock Raps; and a brother.

Memorial donations can be made to the University of Pennsylvania Stroke Center, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia 19104.

Lillie Mitchell, Alumni Records

Lillie Mitchell, a records associate in the Alumni Records Office for 28 years, died on November 24 at the age of 47.

In her role of updating the alumni database and responding to in-person inquiries by companies and alumni, Ms. Mitchell was known for "her wonderful sense of humor, her kindness, and her patience with the impatient," said Alexis McCann, associate director of information services in Development and Alumni Relations.

"She was an extraordinarily friendly woman who probably knew more people on campus and more alumni than most of us ever will," Ms. McCann continued. "There were alumni who called her on a regular basis just to chat. The department was stunned and saddened by her loss."

She is survived by her son, Carl; her mother; and six brothers and sisters.

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 15, December 15, 1998