MedicineNet.com's founder lost his battle against cancer of the pancreas on April 11, 2008. He was 58 years old. Dennis Lee, MD died peacefully with the dignity he deserved, surrounded by family and close friends.
Dennis will be dearly missed by countless friends, colleagues, and patients. What follows is a simple summary of a wonderful life.
Dennis Lee was born in Shanghai, China in 1950, the only son of Chinese nationals. His family made efforts to leave China by way of Hong Kong where he attended late primary school at LaSalle. Dennis was fluent in three dialects of the Chinese language and became fluent in English during middle school at the renowned St. Paul school of Hong Kong. Dennis excelled in his studies and when it came time to introduce students to music, he was singled out as a cello player because of his height relative to his Cantonese classmates. It wasn't long before he adapted to the beauty of classical music.
The Lee family moved to the U.S. purposely for Dennis to attend an exclusive private high school, Mount Herman, in Massachusetts. After taking the entrance examination, he skipped freshman and sophomore years and was enrolled as a junior. He soon assumed a leadership position with his classmates and graduated at the top of his class. During his senior (and only second year in the U.S.) he was recruited by MIT, Stanford University, and Harvey Mudd College for engineering school. He chose Harvey Mudd College because they provided him an optimal scholarship.
At Harvey Mudd, Dennis soon became one of his professors' favorites and was groomed to become a professor of engineering. His talents for teaching were obvious to his mentors. Late in his undergraduate training, he perceived that an apparent glut in the engineering market might interfere with his progress, so Dennis re-focused his talents towards attending medical school. He quickly performed very well in premedical sciences, including biology and chemistry, and was accepted by the University of California at Los Angeles Medical School. At medical school, Dennis achieved the highest academic honor possible, when he was awarded the presidency of Alpha Omega Alpha honor society for medical students.
Dr. Lee completed his internal medicine training, including residency, at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Again, his extraordinary talents were rewarded when he was admitted for gastroenterology fellowship training under the late Leslie Schoenfield, MD, professor emeritus and Jay Marks, MD in the Gastroenterology Division of Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He developed a passion for gastroenterology.
Dr. Lee established an outstanding gastroenterology practice as a member of Mission Internal Medical Group, a multi-specialty medical group serving south Orange County, California. His reputation among colleagues, co-workers, and patients was that of an exceptionally talented, compassionate, respectful, and humble physician. He loved his work and the wonderful people around him. Dennis had an aura of charisma and kindness that attracted an intense loyalty and dedication from his many friends. Dennis loved humor and just pure fun. All the while, he maintained an interest in teaching and service and regularly guest lectured at a nearby community college and provided his group of internal medicine physicians with educational updates from the annual gastroenterology meetings.
Dennis was self-educated in financial matters and even became a financial advisor, when asked, for close family, friends, and colleagues. He had a keen interest in technology. One of his dearest friends, Vic Sangveraphunsiri, was an executive in the technology industry. While playing tennis with him late 1995, Dennis reviewed the reality that doctors did not always have the ideal amount of time to adequately convey to patients and their families all of the medical information necessary for them to optimally understand their illnesses or monitor their diseases. Dennis and Vic then conceptualized that if there were a team of qualified doctors who could present comprehensive information about diseases, medications, medical news, and opinions that was written for the layman, it could be distributed for free to people all over the world using what was then the relatively new technology of the Internet.
And that is when MedicineNet.com was born - October of 1995.
Because of its reputation for quality, Dr. Lee's idea that became MedicineNet.com grew spontaneously and wildly over the next decade on the world-wide-web-without any active marketing! During his last year of life, MedicineNet.com served over a billion page views to an audience of millions of unique viewers monthly searching for easy-to-read medical information. MedicineNet.com incorporates the work of over 150 physicians around the U.S. and has become a subsidiary of WebMD.
Dr. Dennis Lee was beloved by the employees, partners, and executives at MedicineNet.com. His laughter, innovation, and drive for clarity and truth will be sadly missed. He leaves behind a template of excellence that will always remain integral to the programs that will be developed under the MedicineNet.com wing.
For my part, I have lost a very dear friend, confidant, counselor, physician, colleague, and co-founder...and, someone who could never turn down some fresh sushi (with a Diet Coke, of course).
William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Chief Medical Editor, MedicineNet.com