P&S Journal: Fall 1997, Vol.17, No.3
Luncheon and Awards Ceremony
Comparing notes with this year's graduating class, Richard J. Stock'47, chairman of the 50th anniversary class, recalled how, because of World War II, "most of us attended medical school in uniform and paid no tuition." And though their academic program was compressed because of the war, Dr. Stock pointed out proudly that his was a class of stellar accomplishments. Among the 113 class members were 25 full professors, seven departmental chairmen, four deans, three alumni gold medal recipients, and three members of the National Academy of Science.
Speaking on behalf of the 25th anniversary class, Donald Finck'72, recalled the influence of such inspiring faculty members as biochemist Dr. Erwin Chargaff, who narrowly lost the race discovering DNA to Watson and Crick. Marked by the public response to another war, many of his classmates wore their white coats to demonstrations downtown protesting American involvement in hostilities in Southeast Asia.
Graduating class president Andrew R. Watson'97 offered collective thanks to the faculty, pointing out how his class was fortunate to participate in the pilot project for curricular reform funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Honors and Awards Committee chairman John P. Bilezikian'69 presented this year's gold medals to three alumni and two graduating students.
The medal for distinguished achievements in medicine went to Stanley H. Appel'60, one of the world's experts in the immunological bases of neurological disorders and a pioneer in the study of neurological diseases and their treatment modalities. Among his multiple titles, Dr. Appel is professor of biochemistry and professor and chairman of neurology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he is also director of the Jerry Lewis Neuromuscular Disease Research Center, director of the MDA-ALS Center, and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.
Edgar M. Housepian'53, another member of the Honors and Awards Committee, read a letter from Dr. Appel, who was unable to attend. "Much of my success in neurology," wrote Dr. Appel, "was due to great teachers at P&S."
Edgar Leifer'46, emeritus professor of clinical medicine at P&S and the ultimate clinical role model for generations of medical students, received the medal for excellence in clinical medicine. Saluting his old teacher, friend, and colleague, Dr. Bilezikian recalled how "Dr. Leifer has always practiced the kind of medicine that places the patient in the center of care." Dr. Leifer, honored in 1987 as "Practitioner of the Year," stressed that the doctor is "more than a health care provider or gatekeeper," reaffirming his lifelong commitment to the "complete care of the patient." Notable among the many encomia Dr. Leifer earned throughout a long and distinguished career is a P&S professorship established in his name.
This year's recipient of the medal for meritorious service to P&S and its Alumni Association was David T.W. Chiu'73, the Thomas S. Zimmer Professor of Surgery at P&S and chief of plastic surgery at Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Chiu, a pioneer in microsurgical techniques, also officiates as director of the microsurgery center. Saluting Dr. Chiu as "one of the truly great practitioners of microsurgery of the hand," Dr. Bilezikian said, "we honor Dr. Chiu today for his devoted, continued, and outstanding contributions to the school and its alumni." Recipient of the University's Alumni Federation Award in 1995, he began his service to the school as a student, earning the bronze medal at graduation. Currently treasurer of the Alumni Association, he has served several terms as a director and played an active role on countless committees. Dr. Chiu gave personal thanks to Dr. Perera, Dean Pardes, and "the teachers in whose footsteps I have tried to follow," and graciously accepted the medal "as a reminder that I haven't yet done enough."
Ann Marie Carrasquillo'97, president of the P&S Club, and Andrew R. Watson'97, class president for all four years and an editor of the student-run P&S Medical Review, both received the medal for graduating seniors in recognition of their interest in and devotion to the school and its Alumni Association.
Members of the Class of 1997 donned black tie and gown for a graduation dinner-dance at the Harmonie Club.