Linda Laubenstein

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Linda Laubenstein (May 21, 1947 – August 15, 1992) was a doctor, and early HIV/AIDS researcher. Along with Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien, she published the first article linking AIDS with Kaposi's sarcoma.[1][2]

A childhood bout of polio left Laubenstein paraplegic and using a wheelchair. After graduating high school she graduated Barnard College. She then received her M.D. from the New York University Medical School, where she became a clinical professor.[2][3]


A specialist in hematology and oncology, and clinical professor at the New York University Medical Center she was one of the first in the United States to recognize the appearance of the AIDS epidemic and was author (with Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien) of the first published article on the related appearance of Kaposi's sarcoma.[3] Colleague Dr. Jeffrey Greene called Dr. Laubenstein "the ultimate AIDS physician". Despite her handicap, she would meet patients in the emergency room in the middle of the night and even made house calls, using her motorized wheelchair and public buses. "She was sicker than most of her patients but didn`t let it stop her," Greene said.[4]

With Freidman-Kien she arranged the first full-scale medical conference on AIDS, at New York University in 1983 and helped found the Kaposi's Sarcoma Research Fund in 1983. Outspoken about what she said was the neglect by government and society in fighting AIDS, some of her views were controversial among gay groups, particularly the belief that bathhouses should be shut down to discourage unsafe sex.[4]


She died at the age of 45 on August 15, 1992 at her family's home in Massachusetts[4] of a heart attack,[3] survived by her parents, George and Priscilla of Harwich Port, Mass., and a brother, Peter.[4]


Larry Kramer's play The Normal Heart features a wheelchair-using medical doctor, Emma Brookner, who is based on Laubenstein, according to a leaflet Kramer distributed after Broadway 2011 performances of the play. It said that the character of Emma Brookner was based on Dr. Linda Laubenstein, who "died after a return bout of polio and another trip to an iron lung."[5] It was made into a 2014 American drama television film also written by Larry Kramer, The Normal Heart, directed by Ryan Murphy. Julia Roberts appeared as Dr. Emma Brookner.


  1. ^ Marmor M, Friedman-Kien AE, Laubenstein L, et al. (May 1982). "Risk factors for Kaposi's sarcoma in homosexual men". Lancet. 1 (8281): 1083–7. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(82)92275-9. PMID 6122889. 
  2. ^ a b "Laubenstein, Linda". The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science. Pioneering Lives from Ancient Times to the Mid-20th Century, Volume 2. Taylor and Francis. 2000. ISBN 0-203-80145-8. 
  3. ^ a b c "Papers of Linda J. Laubenstein, 1947-1993: A Finding Aid (93-M98)". Schlesinger Library. Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. September 1993. Retrieved September 30, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d Lambert, Bruce (August 17, 1992). "Linda Laubenstein, 45, Physician And Leader in Detection of AIDS". The New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2015. 
  5. ^ Gans, Andrew (25 April 2011). "Letter from Larry Kramer distributed following Normal Heart performances". Playbill. Retrieved September 30, 2015. 

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