West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 10 | August 08 - 14, 2007

Obituary

Warren Hirsch, calculated parasite transmission, 88

Warren M. Hirsch, professor emeritus of mathematics at New York University’s Courant Institute and developer of a mathematical model of the transmission of parasitic diseases, died July 9 in Sarasota, Fla., at the age of 88,

Best known for his work in mathematical biology, he was also co-developer in the 1950s of an algorithm useful in business, and later did significant research in probability theory.

A dinner party conversation with a public health official from Suriname in the late 1960s got him interested in the possibility of a mathematical model of the transmission dynamics of the parasite that caused a devastating disease in Suriname. In order to understand the biology of the parasite, he took a sabbatical from N.Y.U. to study parasitology and tropical medicine at Yale.

In the early 1970s, he and an N.Y.U. graduate student, Ingemar Nasal, now a professor at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, developed the model that became a foundation concept of mathematical epidemiology.

Born in 1918, Hirsch graduated from City College and was commissioned an Army Air Force officer in 1942 at the beginning of World War II. He worked on planning bombing during the Normandy invasion and was commended for contributions in operation analysis and logistical planning.

After the war he earned his doctorate in math at N.Y.U.’s Courant Institute in 1952 and became a professor there in 1953. When he retired in 1988, he joined the biomedical sciences faculty at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine where he taught for the next 11 years.

His first wife, Karen Haber, died in 1955. His wife of 48 years, Gail Glavin Hirsch, of Sarasota; his son, Adam Hirsch, a Florida State University law professor; his daughter, Lisa Eisner of Wallingford, Conn., and a granddaughter, Caitlin Mitchell of St. Petersburg, Fla., survive.


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