In September, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP) announced the late Dr. Edward Kaplan as the recipient of its prestigious Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes a pediatrician for “their outstanding efforts that contribute to the improvement of child health care.” The award was received at the ceremony by Dr. Kaplan’s wife, Irene Kaplan.

Dr. Kaplan had a storied career as a pediatric cardiologist and infectious disease physician. He began working at the U of M Medical School in 1970 and stayed for the rest of his career. Dr. Kaplan was passionate about both patient care and research, treating hundreds of patients across Minnesota while publishing novel research in the fields of pediatric infectious diseases and cardiology.

Dr. Kaplan’s career was guided by his desire to give back whenever he could; he held quarter cardiology clinics at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in addition to weekly clinics at the Hennepin County Medical Center. His commitment to ensuring that everyone has access to high-quality medical care was the core of his practice.

Pediatric Infectious Disease Division, University of Minnesota Medical School. Circa 1965

In addition to giving back to patients, Dr. Kaplan enjoyed working with learners and trainees and mentored hundreds of physicians throughout his life.

In a 2022 oral history of the Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Kaplan said, “I think mentorship is probably one of the most important aspects of medicine, not only of the mentee, but also for the mentor. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is. I’ve kept up that role all these years, even after retiring.”

Dr. Kaplan said that seeing students he mentored go on to have great success in their careers was very self-satisfying and something that motivated him every day.

As a researcher, Dr. Kaplan had a global influence, studying monoclonal antibodies at Ciba-Geigy in Switzerland and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Germany. He acted as a visiting professor for universities all over the world, including South Korea, Australia, Peru, New York, Germany, Switzerland, China, the Philippines, Egypt and Mongolia. He held the prestigious position of Head of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Streptococci.

Dr. Kaplan dedicated his life to improving care for children through the state of Minnesota and beyond, and the MNAAP was happy to honor him through their Distinguished Achievement Award. His legacy lives on in the physicians he mentored, the research that furthered the fields of pediatric cardiology and infectious diseases and the hundreds and hundreds of children he cared for throughout his life.