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In Memoriam: Robert Tranquada, M.D.

Headshot of Dr. Robert Tranquada, wearing glasses, a wine colored sweater and blue shirt.

The National Medical Fellowships (NMF) is deeply saddened by the passing of NMF Board Member Emeritus Dr. Bob Tranquada. He served with distinction on the NMF Board of Directors for more than 30 years and was deeply committed to NMF’s mission of providing scholarships to diverse medical students, which he advanced through his leadership and philanthropy. NMF awarded him its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.  

In an interview with NMF a couple of years ago, he recalled discovering NMF and the impact it had on the increase in diverse students entering medicine, and that becoming involved in its work was a blessing to him personally.  

“What [NMF] has done is just incredibly important to medicine in the entire United States. It is important to continue to support National Medical Fellowships with its incredible role. I have discovered, for instance, that in Los Angeles, the Deans and major leaders of four of the most important institutions in Los Angeles and maybe in Southern California, are NMF alumni. So, they’ve done a tremendous job,” he recalled.  

At the time of his passing, Dr. Tranquada held the title of Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Public Policy at the University of Southern California. He was Chair Emeritus of Pomona College Board of Trustees; Emeritus Member of the Board of Trustees of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science; an Elected Member to the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) since 1983, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1984, an Emeritus Member of the Board of Overseers of the Claremont University Consortium; Emeritus Member of the Board of Directors of Good Hope Medical Foundation, Los Angeles; and Emeritus Member of the Board of Trustees of Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences. In addition to his storied career in academics and medicine, Dr. Tranquada was a founding board member and chair of L.A. Care Health Plan, established in 1997, and the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.  

He received an honorary Sc.D. from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1988 and from Pomona College in 2007. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in 2015. 

The community of those dedicated to achieving health equity have lost an enduring partner and champion. NMF extends its deepest sympathies to Dr. Tranquada’s family and loved ones.