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Roizen, Michael F. - Physician and author, Career, Sidelights, Selected writings

university york medical school

Born January 7, 1946, in Buffalo, NY; son of Manus (an advertising agency owner) and Edith (a teacher and homemaker) Roizen; married Nancy J. Mrazek (a pediatrician), April 15, 1975; children: Jeffrey, Jennifer. Education : Williams College, A.B (with honors), 1967; University of California, San Francisco, M.D., 1971.

Addresses: Office —c/o Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020.

Career

Beth Israel Hospital (Boston, MA), intern, 1972, resident in medicine, 1973; National Institutes of Health, research associate in pharmacology, 1973–75; University of California—San Francisco, resident in anesthesia, 1977, assistant professor, 1977–81, associate professor of anesthesiology, 1981–85; University of Chicago, professor of internal medicine and chairman of the department of anesthesia and critical care, 1985–2001; SUNY Upstate Medical Center and the University of Syracuse, dean of medical school, 2001, and professor of anesthesiology, 2001–05; Cleveland Clinic, chair of anesthesiology, critical care, and pain management division, 2005–. Author of several books.

Sidelights

Michael F. Roizen is a physician and author of several best-selling books on healthy living, including 2005’s You: The Owner’s Manual, An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger . He and co-author Dr. Mehmet Oz teamed up for another million-seller in 2006, You: On a Diet; The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management , and their joint and solo appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s top-rated daytime television talk show have made the pair household names. “From the time I was a kid, and wanted to become a doctor, I wanted to help people change their lives,” Roizen told Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Evelyn Theiss. “What I always wanted to do is educate and motivate as many people as possible.”

Roizen is a native of Buffalo, New York, where he was born in 1946 and raised in the Kensington/Bailey area of the city as one of four children. At the private academy he attended, the Nichols School, he struggled to earn good grades. “My French teacher told me, ‘If you work real hard, you’ll make honor roll by your junior year,’” he recalled in the interview with Theiss for the Plain Dealer , but admitted the low expectation of his abilities motivated him. “I made it in the middle of my freshman year.”

After earning an undergraduate degree from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1967, Roizen entered medical school at the University of California at San Francisco, where he met his future wife. He graduated with an M.D. in 1971, and spent his years as an intern and resident at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. For two years in the mid-1970s he was a research associate in pharmacology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and then returned to the San Francisco area as an anesthesiologist and medical-school professor with the University of California’s healthcare system in the city. In 1985, he and his wife, pediatrician Nancy J. Mrazek, moved their family to Chicago when Roizen was hired as professor of internal medicine and chairman of the department of anesthesia and critical care at the University of Chicago medical school and hospital.

Roizen had always been an active athlete, and excelled in squash to such an extent that he played on the racquet sport’s U.S. team that competed at the 1984 Pan-American Games. In the early 1990s, he took a deeper interest in nutrition as a tool for optimum health, and began looking into published research findings on longevity, too. The dual inquiries led him to come up with his “real age” quiz, which established a number entirely different from a person’s chronological age; years were added for poor health habits, such as tobacco use, or subtracted for those who exercised regularly or ate a certain amount of fish weekly, based on the premise that the omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of seafood reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. “The basic message was that you—not your genes—control your rate of aging,” he explained to the Plain Dealer ’s Theiss. “By the time you are 80, behavioral choices account almost entirely for your health.”

Roizen’s first book, co-authored with Elizabeth Anne Stephenson, explained this concept in detail. RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be? appeared in 1999, became a New York Times bestseller (reaching No. 1 in its Advice/How-To category) and attracted the interest of television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. Roizen made his first appearance on Oprah in 1999, which prompted sales of his book to soar overnight. He admitted that his first experience on live television may have subtracted a few months off his own real age due to stress. “They had nine of my patients on the show, and I had to memorize information on eleven other people I’d never seen,” he told Theiss in the Plain Dealer . “I was like a deer in headlights.”

Roizen followed up the success of his first book with The RealAge Diet: Make Yourself Younger with What You Eat in 2001. That same year, he took a new job as dean of the medical school at the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical Center/University of Syracuse facility, but lasted just nine months on the job. Some of the senior staffers were upset over his plans to restructure their pay packages, and Roizen stepped down but remained on staff as a professor of anesthesiology. In 2005, he joined the prestigious Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, as chair of its anesthesiology, critical care, and pain management division.

Still a regular guest on Oprah , Roizen met another physician through Winfrey, and he and Dr. Mehmet Oz teamed up to write You: The Owner’s Manual, An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger , published by Harper Collins in 2005. The book offered tips for a healthy lifestyle, including diet, exercise, and stress management, and was another New York Times bestseller. He and Oz—a cardiologist and Columbia University medical school professor—inked a deal with Simon & Schuster’s Free Press to write three more books, which began with You: The Smart Patient: An Insider’s Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment in 2006. Later that year, You: On a Diet; The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management was published, and remained on the New York Times best-seller list for several months.

Roizen and his wife are the parents of two grown children—a son in medical school and a daughter pursuing a doctorate in chemistry. After spending much of his career in the operating room or the classroom, he is still stunned by the minor celebrity status he achieved thanks to his appearances on Oprah . “The privilege I get by having this visibility is, anyone will talk to me, and I get to learn,” he enthused to a reporter for his hometown newspaper, Charity Vogel of the Buffalo News . “That’s the joy. And the visibility gives me the opportunity to help people out. That’s a privilege, not just a responsibility.”

Selected writings

(With Elizabeth Anne Stephenson) RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be? , Cliff Street Books (New York City), 1999.
(With John La Puma) The RealAge Diet: Make Yourself Younger with What You Eat , Cliff Street Books, 2001.
(With Mehmet Oz) You: The Owner’s Manual, An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger , Harper Collins (New York City), 2005.
(With Oz) You: The Smart Patient: An Insider’s Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment , Free Press/Simon & Schuster (New York City), 2006.
(With Oz) You: On a Diet; The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management , Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2006.

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