Miami magazine Online


Air of Inspiration

here is an underlying logic to the multiple passions of Marilyn Glassberg Csete, M.D. ’85. This assistant professor and pulmonary physician-scientist at the School of Medicine recognizes the power of possibility—in experimental therapies, the promise of a gifted student, or her own capabilities.

Patient gratitude and her development of the only interstitial lung disease program in Florida is what captured the attention of U.S. Senator Bob Graham and U.S. Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart. Last year they nominated Glassberg to be a “Local Legend,” one of 20 women selected by the National Library of Medicine and the American Medical Women’s Association. The only winner from Florida, Glassberg is featured in an accompanying exhibition at the National Library of Medicine until May 2005. But the “legend” of Marilyn Glassberg Csete goes far beyond the lab, clinic, and classroom.

Born at Jackson Memor-ial Hospital, Glassberg came home to study medicine after graduating with honors from Wellesley College. As a girl she made up her mind to be a physician and not a concert pianist, as her mother preferred. She knew she would not follow her father into cardiology but would settle in next door—the lungs, after all, embrace the heart.

She studies and treats interstitial lung disease—ailments in which air sacs thicken and limit gas exchange—most notably pulmonary fibrosis and lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare disease affecting young women. “It has become increasingly apparent that lung diseases may affect women differently than men,” she wrote in her introduction to the recent “Sex, Gender, and Respiratory Health and Disease” issue of Clinics in Chest Medicine, which she co-edited.

Consulted as the second or third opinion in a case, Glassberg observes, “You have to listen to your patients.” Many come to her misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, and she’ll often turn that around. Her advice to the students she mentors: “Think broadly and always question.”

Glassberg also thinks broadly at home with her husband, also a pulmonologist, and four children, ages 3 to 14. In lieu of standard furniture, her children sleep in 200-year-old four-poster beds from Indonesia. In the “music room,” two grand pianos, violins, guitars, and a mandolin mingle with buddhas, temples, carvings, and a Ming Dynasty apothecary cabinet that houses the family’s CD collection. “Ten years ago I visited mybrother-in-law in Bangkok and fell in love with Chinese art,” she says.

Glassberg’s children have inherited some of her interests, especially music. Instead of television blaring, the Csete household is more likely to be filled with a mother-daughter piano concerto.

It might be difficult to understand how physician, scientist, mentor, mother, wife, musician, and art enthusiast could describe one person, until you consider the philosophy of Marilyn Glassberg Csete: “Everything you do, you should do with some passion.”

— Leslie Sternlieb

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