Power Couple: Deborah and David Lewinsohn

OHSU researchers discuss their personal and professional collaborations.

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Deborah A. Lewinsohn
Professor, Division Head of Infectious Disease, Vice Chair of Research, Department of Pediatrics, OHSU;
co-founder, ViTi; born, Dixon, Illinois

David M. Lewinsohn
Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, OHSU;
co-founder, ViTi; born, Indianapolis, Indiana


How we met
“Breakfast Club,” Stanford Medical School | 1983

D.A.L.: “Some of the students would meet at a local restaurant each week. Dave and I were friends for years before we started dating in 1986. I noticed his kindness and his positive attitude.”

D.M.L.: “Then, as now, Debbie was very organized, had a great sense of humor, always remained un-ruffled and was very athletic. It did not hurt that she was, and still is cute.”


July 1, 1990


Marital dynamic

D.A.L.: “I’m a homebody while Dave likes to be traveling, networking. He is a dare devil — comfortable with heights and likes to ski and climb. I’m chicken! In the lab, he gets excited about an idea. I am the practical one.”


D.M.L.: “One dynamic is our approach to risk. I have always been an enthusiastic skier, climber. Debbie is always willing to try. For example, Debbie discovered she really liked rock climbing in Yosemite when we realized that there was a bear at the bottom of our climb.”

Professional overlap
Co-lead a program in tuberculosis immunology research. ViTi is an OHSU startup seeking improved diagnostics for TB. 

Why we love our jobs

D.A.L.: “I like that my days are varied. Some days I am seeing patients, while others are devoted mainly to research.  It is a privilege to work with so many smart people, especially young people, who are dedicated to improving human health through direct patient care, research and education.”

D.M.L.: “I enjoy talking about the science that is taking place in the lab, and providing mentorship and guidance to the trainees in the lab; developing close relationships with our collaborators around the world.”


Work/Life balance

Hanoi, Vietnam |December 2017


D.A.L.: “Dave and I were visiting Hanoi, Vietnam — to work with our collaborators in Hanoi at the National Lung Hospital and our collaborators at UCSF there.  Maya and Daniel were able to come with us.”

Twins Maya and Rebecca, 24; 
Daniel, 17




What I’m Reading

D.M.L.:The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. It takes place in New Zealand during the gold rush, and hence highlights the challenges that these pioneers faced.”


D.A.L.: “Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom.  I read this book while I was in South Africa last summer doing a short sabbatical at the University of Cape Town.”




D.M.L.: “My hope has always been to bring better understanding to how a disease works, and how we might use this information to design better diagnostics and vaccines. I have been thinking more about how to develop the next generation of researchers, and about advocacy for tuberculosis.”

D.A.L.: “To make a real difference in child health worldwide — specifically through contributing to a TB vaccine and/or TB diagnostic that reduces illness and death of young children from tuberculosis.”

A version of this column appears in the July/August issue of Oregon Business.