Ask any doctor, nurse, or other clinician about UpToDate and you’ll get some version of this answer: I use it all the time to stay current, and often pull it up when I’m talking with patients. For clinicians around the world, UpToDate is essentially Google for medicine, but smarter and based on evidence.

The creator of this invaluable and now-omnipresent resource, Dr. Burton “Bud” Rose, a brilliant kidney specialist, entrepreneur, and our friend and colleague, died on Friday from complications of Covid-19 at age 77.

Nearly 30 years ago, Bud wanted to find a way to more rapidly update his first textbook, “Clinical Physiology of Acid-Base and Electrolyte Disorders,” which had become the nephrology bible for medical students, practicing clinicians, and faculty members in the United States and beyond. When his publisher declined to put the book into a format that was accessible by computer, Bud did it himself, and UpToDate was born.

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He first focused on kidney disease, then gradually opened the lens to include virtually all of medicine. With his wife, Gloria, as his partner, Bud turned a basement business into the most widely used and universally respected educational resource for clinicians around the world.

UpToDate helps health care workers with access to a computer or a smartphone know the right thing to do for their patients, and know it immediately.

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When Wolters Kluwer bought UpToDate in 2008, more than 3,000 physicians were reviewing and updating its content and creating recommendations for how to diagnose and treat thousands of conditions. Today, clinicians use this resource about one million times every day, and often change their clinical decisions based on what they read.

As one of us (M.Z.) said at a party celebrating Bud’s retirement from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, he was truly the Steve Jobs of medicine.

Dr. John P. Forman, who Bud trusted to take over the nephrology section at UpToDate, said that Bud’s idea, and its execution, represent “the most important medical invention in the past 30 years, possibly longer. I’ve argued more than once that he should have won the Nobel Prize for medicine.”

Bud Rose defined what it means to be a superb clinician educator. From his training through his faculty positions at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School, he was a clinician and educator without peer. He had the gift of delivering clear, concise, and precise presentations on any topic, especially his chosen field of nephrology. Bud’s writing sparkled, with crisp, logical thinking presented in a straightforward style that all could understand.

Even as his work at UpToDate demanded more and more of his time, Bud continued to see patients at Beth Israel Deaconess and continued to teach. He met every week with our nephrology fellows to hear cases and teach them the ins and out of kidney disease and its management. Fellows — and faculty members — benefited from the magic of his teaching. Bud also developed and directed an annual review course in nephrology that each year attracted an all-star cast of guest lecturers who came to Boston to teach because of their respect for Bud and his work.

Recognition as a teacher supreme who established what education should be at every level came with his promotion to clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. National acknowledgement for his work in educating kidney specialists came when he was honored with the Robert G. Narins Award by the American Society of Nephrology, the highest award given by the discipline for education in nephrology.

Clinicians around the world — UpToDate is available in nine languages — and their patients owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Bud, who exemplified excellence in clinical care and teaching. Those of us who had the privilege to know him and work with him will remember him with affection and reverence for years to come. For millions of others, Bud’s legacy quietly contributes to a goal he passionately worked toward throughout his life: providing better care for patients.

Martin Pollak, M.D., is professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Division of Nephrology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Mark Zeidel, M.D., is professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and physician in chief and chair of the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Theodore Steinman, M.D., is professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and senior physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

  • During my fellowship in Nephrology, I got to know Dr. Rose.
    His sight in medicine and electrolytes was incredible!
    He did a lot to the medicine and his name is always staying in the memory of life. God bless his soul and for sure he will live in peace!

  • I think my suscription began since the very begining. Could you chek my record and let me known. From Ecuador with regards

  • I was a student at UMASS Medical School from 1974-78 and a resident at St. Vincent Hospital from 1978-81. Bud was a professor at both these institutions at that time. He was the guru of fluid and electrolyte balance not just because of his great book — which I still use — but because of his teaching ability. He was the best instructor I ever had. I also remember riding around with him in his old VW Rabbit which badly needed a new muffler. I’ll miss you Bud.

    Morris Lainer, M.D.

  • I am saddened to hear of the passing of this great nephrologist and medical educator. I met him a few years ago at the ASN, shook his hand and told him that I was a nephrologist from Israel, and how important Uptodate was for me. He told me that he had sacrificed a research career for Uptodate. I told him that in my humble opinion, Uptodate was an enormous contribution to Nephrology, no less than a research career. I am honored to have met him.

  • I knew Dr. Rose When I was a Medical Resident at the Worcester City Hospital and he was a great teacher and helped us to care for our renal patients, at that time he had a great reputation amongst residents and students. I have used Uptodate for several years here in Venezuela and recommended it to my coleagues and residents. I am already praying for him.
    Claudio L Urosa M D FACP

  • I was a colleague of Bud at St.Vincent Hospital in Worcester MA. I valued his friendship,intellect,humor.He was a great clinician and very respected teacher for all of us ,young and old. I was fortunate to have discussed the early phases of Uptodate pertinent to kidney diseases and hematology. Good bye,my friend!
    Laszlo (Latzy)

  • Hope UP to DATE continuous to serve the medical community as envisioned. My respect to Dr Burton Rose. May he rest in peace.

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