Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Adolescent Health
January 1, 1990 through March 31, 2004


The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine was honored to have recognized Iris F. Litt, MD, FSAHM during its Annual Meeting in St. Louis on March 24, 2004. (At the time, the Society was called the Society for Adolescent Medicine. The text below is quoted is it was at that time, reflecting the previous name.)

Mr. Glen P. Campbell, Senior Vice President, U.S. Health Sciences Journals of Elsevier, had the following to say about Dr. Litt.


“Thank you for providing us with the opportunity to pay tribute to Dr. Litt who became Editor of the Journal of Adolescent Health (JAH) in 1990, the same year I joined Elsevier. Linda Gruner, Executive Publisher, and I have had the privilege of working with Dr. Litt and her wonderful Managing Editor, Ann McGrath-Briggs, for a good portion of the past 13 years, but there are many others at Elsevier who work on the journal including its Senior Issue Manager, Paula Vetrovec, and JAH’s current Associate Publisher, Regina Klein. I speak on behalf of many people at Elsevier who work on the journal and hold Dr. Litt in high esteem.

“The publishing partnership between Elsevier and the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM) has been renewed a few times since 1990, which reflects that our relationship has been mutually beneficial, something in large part, due to Dr. Litt’s fine work as Editor-in-Chief of JAH.

“My first trip to St. Louis was for an editorial board meeting of the Journal of the Reticuloendothelial System, so you can understand that my JAH editorial board meeting was a welcome relief. Nothing against leukocyte biologists, but the content of JAH is far more accessible; it’s one of the journals everyone at Elsevier does read because its relevance is immediately evident. Whether or not we have children or teenagers is beside the point. We all know that teenagers are our future and they face an increasingly complex and difficult world. The research and the work you all do, the interventions you make, have a proactive, profound, and beneficial effect on our society and our world as they navigate that world.

“Dr. Litt’s insightful and well-written editorials, gently, but firmly prod the reader to consider a new and or different point of view. She uses few words to make many good points. She writes with eloquence and edits with style.

“During the past 14 years, Dr. Litt has been intimately involved with all aspects of the JAH publishing process. She’s always pressed for the highest quality in production values, from copy-editing to paper. She pushed to have the journal online as quickly as possible and made significant contributions to our marketing efforts.

“Throughout her many years as Editor, she interacted with many people at Elsevier, all of whom speak of her in glowing terms. Her interactions with all the Elsevier staff reflected her respect for them as publishing professionals. She is a publisher’s dream editor: informed, involved, and interactive. Did I note that she has a sense of humor? It’s unique to her personality. She is also one of the top ten best-dressed Elsevier editors.

“On behalf of Elsevier and all those who work on JAH, who now include Regina Klein in St. Louis, we are pleased to present Iris with two gifts as token of the high esteem in which we hold her and the significant contribution she has made to the medical and scientific literature.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Litt and we thank Dr. Brookman, Dr. DuRant, Edie Moore, and Ann McGrath Briggs, all of whom have assisted Elsevier in our efforts to publish JAH."

“We look forward to working with Dr. Irwin on the continued growth and success of JAH.”

Recognition continued with Richard R. Brookman, MD, FSAM, a Past President of the Society for Adolescent Medicine and Senior Associate Editor of the Journal of Adolescent Health, sharing the following:


“I was very pleased to be asked to organize and present this tribute to Iris Litt, MD, FSAM, as she steps down from the position of Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Adolescent Health. I have been associated with the journal since its very beginnings. I have known Dr. Litt longer than most members of SAM. I first met Dr. Litt more than 30 years ago when I was a new pediatric resident at Montefiore; and she was one of my first faculty attendings, albeit a very young attending. Dr. Litt and I spent a lot of time together behind bars. She was the attending physician at Spofford, New York City’s juvenile delinquent center, where I spent a month. Dr. Litt taught me much about dysmenorrheal, pelvic inflammatory disease, sexually related problems of young prostitutes, and the health care of delinquent youth – in short, all I needed to know about cramps, tramps, and scamps! Her influence may be responsible for my now being the medical consultant to three juvenile detention centers in the Richmond, Virginia area.

“I have had the pleasure and the privilege of serving on the SAM Executive Council/Board of Directors along with Dr. Litt for 12 of the past 22 years. I was Director of Publications when she was the SAM President; and when I was SAM President, she was editor of the journal. Over these many years, I observed that at all times, Dr. Litt was both elegant and eloquent in all of her work for SAM. In preparing this tribute, I did what senior faculty usually do – I invited several “co-authors” to share in the writing for which I would take the credit. Actually, I wanted the tribute to reflect more than my own words.

“I began by doing some research. I found in the November 1989 issue of our Journal the welcome to Dr. Litt written by Dr. Ron Shenker, then chair of the Journal Advisory committee which served as the search committee for the editor-in-chief to replace Dr. Verdain Barnes. Dr. Shenker wrote ‘We are pleased to announce that Iris Litt, MD, of Stanford, has accepted the position of Editor-in-Chief beginning with the 1990 issue. The Society is fortunate to have attracted Dr. Litt to this position. Dr. Litt’s impressive curriculum vitae attests to the wide experience and background that make her a leader in adolescent medicine, who can bring broad breadth of experience to our journal.’

“By that time, Dr. Litt had distinguished herself in her training at Cornell, SUNY Downstate, and New York Hospital where she was a resident in Pediatrics. She spent eight years on the faculty in Adolescent Medicine at Montefiore, including appointments as Director of the New York City Juvenile Detention center and Medical Director of the Adolescent Service at Rikers Island. She had been at Stanford as Director of Adolescent Medicine since 1976. She had been a charter member of SAM, served as the 12th (and 2nd female) president of SAM, and had been given the AAP Section on Adolescent Health award. She had written or co-authored 70 papers and 36 chapters and monographs. She had co-authored a book for parents of teenagers and a book on child and adolescent growth and development and written a very practical handbook for approaching the adolescent patient.

“Dr. Shenker continued, ‘The Executive Council believes Dr. Litt possesses the academic credentials, the broad vision, the demonstrated leadership, and the humane qualities that are necessary to move our journal into the 1990s.’

“Dr. Verdain Barnes, who could not attend this tribute, sent the following message. ‘Iris, I regret that I am not able to be there for this well-deserved event honoring your years as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Adolescent Health. Your tenure has marked important changes for the Journal. Each of your accomplishments speaks to your commitment to the Journal and its important role in promoting adolescent health. congratulate you on leading the way to changing the Journal’s name, bringing the Journal into the computer age, enhancing the appeal of the Journal to a broader audience, expanding the Journal’s dedication to scholarship and innovation, and expanding and strengthening the Editorial Board and manuscript review process. Your countless hours of work have provided SAM with an official Journal of which it can be rightfully proud. I applaud your editorship and know that the legacy you are leaving will be hard to follow.’

“Dr. Karen Hein, a close friend of Iris’ who also could not attend this tribute, wrote ‘Iris and I refer to each other as chosen sisters. We spend hours talking to each other each weekend by phone. She often ends our conversation with something like well I gotta’ go…still have JAH work to do. Clearly, Iris’ job as Editor-in-Chief has been 24/7 for many years. Iris is an incredibly elegant and effective person who has influenced our field and the country in her particularly thoughtful, sensitive, heartfelt way. Being somewhat reserved in spoken word, she has incredible communicative powers through her writing. I believe that her most significant gift to SAM, to our field, and to the history of our era is the collection of editorials she has written over the years. Each one is a jewel on its own. Together, the collection gives incredible insight and depth to our field. Iris has put research into the larger context of our era so that the Journal’s contents are not isolated, but instead are central to our ability to understand and act on behalf of young people. The power of the pen (or keyboard in her case) gives her reach beyond the hundreds or thousands of people who know and love her to the millions of people who can read those editorials.’

“Drs. Barnes and Hein have spoken of Dr. Litt’s impact on our Journal and its readers. Dr. Litt’s influence on individual professionals and students is described by Dr. Debbie Katzman, who was a fellow in Adolescent Medicine with Dr. Litt and who now serves as SAM’s Director of Publications, says ‘One of Iris’ greatest legacies as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Adolescent Health is the people she has touched, mentored, encouraged and nurtured during this fourteen-year journey. Iris fostered my love for adolescent health, she challenged my thinking, she helped me see adolescent health issues in new ways, and she helped me realize that research is a fundamental part of my everyday interactions with patients.’

“Dr. Katzman continued, ‘Iris introduced me to the Society for Adolescent Medicine and the Journal of Adolescent Health, knowing that this would always be an important foundation and network for my academic career. The Journal continues to be one of my primary vehicles for lifelong learning. As a devoted reader of the Journal, I have watched how Iris revolutionized the care of adolescents through the increasing quality of manuscripts published in our Journal over the years. These changes and achievements are documented throughout her entire tenure with our Journal.’

“If my ‘co-authors’ had not said all of these things about Dr. Litt, I certainly would have for these are my observations and sentiments. I believe that we all, in the words of Dr. Katzman, ‘Thank Dr. Litt for her devotion to SAM, for her immeasurable contributions to the advancement of the Journal of Adolescent Health, for her ability to educate and disseminate knowledge to adolescent health care providers, and for her tireless commitment to improving our knowledge and care of adolescents around the world.’ ”


The Society for Adolescent Medicine extends an invitation to you, a visitor to the Society’s Web Site, to read Dr. Litt’s editorials:

All editorials are provided in Adobe Acrobat reader format. Each downloadable file represents editorials written by Dr. Litt for an individual year during her tenure as the editor of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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