Carnegie Mellon University
July 25, 2011

Obituary: Dr. David Servan-Schreiber Empowered Cancer Patients

By Internal Communications

Dr. David Servan-Schreiber (CS’89,’90), who was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters at Carnegie Mellon’s commencement this past May, died of brain cancer on Sunday, July 24. He was 50.

Servan-Schreiber’s career spanned two continents as a professor and physician in Pittsburgh and Paris. After completing two medical degrees, Servan-Schreiber earned a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience at CMU under the guidance of Jay McClelland and Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon.

Servan-Schreiber’s distinguished career touched many Pittsburgh institutions, including senior leadership posts at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he co-founded the Center for Integrative Medicine, and academic appointments at the University of Pittsburgh and CMU. He published more than 90 scientific monographs and lectured at leading international academic centers.

One of the seven co-founders of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Doctors without Borders U.S., Servan-Schreiber served in Iraq, Guatemala, India, Tajikistan and Kosovo, addressing epidemics among refugees. He served as a member of the organization’s board for nine years.

In 1992, at age 31, Servan-Schreiber discovered a tumor in his own brain while conducting brain-imaging research. He was diagnosed with brain cancer and given six months to live. Confronting his illness and marshaling his own will to live, he embarked upon a 16-year journey fighting and seeking to understand his illness, culminating in his 2008 international bestseller, “Anticancer: A New Way of Life.” The book and his international lectures have empowered cancer patients and survivors with knowledge and tools to combat the disease.

Servan-Schreiber is the eldest son of the world-renowned Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, the late politician, publisher and co-founder of the French newspaper L'Express. Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber was a distinguished lecturer at CMU during the years that his four sons, David, Franklin (E'86, HSS'89), Emile (S'85, HSS'89,'91) and Edouard (S'88) were students at the university. Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber worked closely with Raj Reddy, CMU's Mozah Bint Nasser University Professor, as founder and president of the World Center for Informatics and Human Resources.

The funeral will be held in Paris on Thursday, July 28.