Med School prof John Mikuta, 88, dies


An alumnus, professor, and clinician, Mikuta dedicated his life to Penn.




Professor Emeritus John Mikuta, who taught gynecologic oncology in the Perelman School of Medicine, died last Friday of natural causes. He was 88.

Mikuta, a pioneer in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecological cancers, epitomized what it means to take advantage of every opportunity offered at the University.

He was a 1948 College and Medical School graduate as well as a practicing clinician and dedicated member of the alumni community.

After retiring, Mikuta was named the Franklin Payne emeritus professor of gynecologic oncology. He served as president of the emeritus faculty committee and was recognized by the Medical School’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology through the creation of the John J. Mikuta Award for Professionalism in Women’s Health. His peers recognized him as the father of his field.

According to Stephen Rubin, who succeeded Mikuta as division chief of gynecologic oncology, Mikuta continued to treat patients for a decade after stepping down as chair in 1993.

Mikuta trained Rubin and nearly 20 other doctors as fellows.

“He was a charismatic individual who was very inspiring to many of us, and who encouraged and supported a number of people over the years to go into obstetrics and gynecology,” Rubin said.

Mikuta was also involved in many professional societies and was a founding member and eventually president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, established in 1970. In addition, Mikuta was an ardent member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

As an alumnus, Mikuta supported the Medical Class of 1948 Scholarship Fund as well as the John J. Mikuta Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Mikuta, who also served on the Medical Alumni Advisory Council and his graduating class’s 60th reunion committee, received the Penn Medicine Alumni Service Award in 1994.

In May 2008, Mikuta received the inaugural Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Lifetime Achievement Award for his extensive contributions to the alumni community.

According to Penn Medicine Alumni Stories — a website that compiles profiles of notable graduates — while Mikuta had many ties to Penn, his medical student days stood out in his memory.

“There was a lot of pride in being at the oldest medical school in America,” he said, “and it was a great feeling to be a part of that community and to feel like I was a member of a larger family.”

Mikuta is survived by his wife, Margaret; his daughter, Ann Murray; his sons, Mark and Paul; and nine grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church, in Moorestown, Pa., this Saturday at 11 a.m.

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