Robert N. Butler:
Robert N. Butler'53
BY PETER WORTSMAN
VINTAGE WINES ARE CHERISHED. HISTORIC BUILDINGS ARE accorded landmark status. But aging humans fare less well. They are sentimentalized and desexualized, ignored, scorned and sometimes abused, and, finally, warehoused in sub-standard nursing homes till they have the decency to die. Pioneering gerontologist Robert N. Butler'53 first outlined the bleak picture in his Pulitzer-prize winning book "Why Survive? Being Old in America" (1975). "In America," he wrote, "childhood is romanticized, youth is idolized, middle age does the work, wields the power and pays the bills, and old age, its days empty of purpose, gets little or nothing of what it has already done. The old are in the way..."
No way! insists Dr. Butler, who has staked his career on the premise that older people not only deserve better, but also are an invaluable resource society can't afford to waste. Founding director of the National Institute on Aging at the NIH, founding chairman of the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development at the Mount Sinai Medical Center (the first academic department of its kind in a U.S. medical school), and founding president and CEO of the International Longevity Center, a policy research and education center, Dr. Butler has spent his professional life proving age a rich opportunity, not a foregone defeat. In landmark research conducted at the NIH, he and his colleagues debunked the myth of the inevitability of senility as a function of aging and, thereby, helped liberate an ever growing segment of the population from the stigmas associated with age.
This profile is based on an interview conducted with Dr. Butler in March 2005 at the Manhattan headquarters of the International Longevity Center. A photograph on the wall of his office shows a beaming Dr. Butler down on the ground doing push-ups. Glancing from the photo to the man, an interviewer, himself well into middle age, cannot help but be struck by the youthful mien and bountiful energy of his subject. Topped by a thick white mane of hair, he has an undeniable glee and "can-do" confidence to his open face and trim physique, coupled with a fierce resolve undiminished by time. It's as if the years had merely put a patina on the simple truth he learned long ago from his maternal grandparents, who raised him on a chicken farm in South Jersey: that life is what you make of it at whatever age. At 78, Robert N. Butler continues to make much of it.
Grandson of Feisty Chicken Farmers
Cries Fowl on Ageist Prejudice
The sudden death of his adored grandfather troubled him deeply as a young boy. But the care and caring of a family physician, someone he knew simply as Dr. Rose, helped muffle the blow and provided a focus to the grief. "I decided that doctors do all they can to keep people alive and give them the best possible life, so I made up my mind I was going to be a doctor." Two bouts with scarlet fever, one in childhood and one as a young man, and the skill and devotion of the physicians who treated him, strengthened his resolve.
That dream survived the Depression and the loss of the family farm, thanks in large part to the fighting spirit of his grandmother, who worked at multiple jobs to put food on the table and keep hope in the heart.
"Seeing my grandmother in action," Dr. Butler recalls, "I saw the indomitable spirit and the survivability and the fact that older people are not dependent and creaky and nonfunctional, but can be very effective."
Following a tour of duty in the U.S. Maritime Service and a solid undergraduate education at Columbia College, where he relished, above all, his grounding in the great books in the Core Curriculum, he entered P&S. His grandmother lived to see him earn his M.D.
"Older People Were Seen as Archives,
Museums of Pathology"
Spurred on and inspired by such outstanding members of the medical faculty as Robert Loeb, Dr. Butler initially leaned toward a career in hematology. But in the hospital setting, as in society at large, he found himself increasingly surprised and dismayed by the general attitude toward older people. "When we did see older patients, sometimes in Group Clinic, but more often in the chronic disease hospital, Goldwater," he winces at the memory, "we saw them as archives, museums of pathology." Lamenting the thickness of their medical charts, insensitive residents would refer to them disdainfully as "crocks," or sarcastically allude to their "porcelain levels," implying that "they were more complainers than really sick."
Pursuing his internship at St. Luke's Hospital, he got to thinking: "We know very little about what makes people tick. And we know very little about aging. Why shouldn't I go into something that nobody knows much about?"
Dr. Butler switched to psychiatry, pursuing a residency in neuropsychiatry, from 1954 to 1955, at the University of California Langley Porter Clinic. There he got involved in early research on the tranquilizers bromazine and chlorpromazine (more popularly known as thorazine), and reserpine, a derivative of the rauwolfia root.
His work at UCSF brought him to the attention of Seymour Kety, the first scientific director of the National Institute of Mental Health at the NIH. One of the fathers of neuroscience in the United States, Dr. Kety was known above all for his development of a technique for measuring blood flow to and oxygen consumption in the brain. The senior scientist interviewed the young investigator in the course of a long walk up and down the hills of San Francisco and recruited him to join what would become a landmark research project on aging in Bethesda, Md.
The Human Aging Project: First Stint at the NIH
Dr. Butler points fondly to a photograph on his office wall of Dr. Kety and Lewis Sokoloff, another scientific giant credited with establishing the scientific basis for PET scanning, who were "dear friends and mentors" and fellow principal investigators on the study on aging. In yet another vintage black and white photograph on the wall, a very serious-looking and bespectacled Dr. Butler, age 28, is seated with colleagues beside the massive, old fashioned, reel-to-reel tape recorder used in the study. With the aid of that robot-like device straight out of a 1950s science fiction flick, the team set out to dispel a set of insidious fictions.
The project that encompassed more than a decade, 1955-1966, was, as Dr. Butler proudly points out, "the first interdisciplinary, comprehensive, longitudinal study of healthy community-residing older persons." Earlier studies of aging had always involved ailing subjects residing in chronic disease hospitals and nursing homes and, consequently, the results were inevitably skewed by the associated factors of disease. "Our work," he says, "led to the revision of stereotypes that once had been attributed to aging, which we found had not to do with aging at all, but had to do with disease, social adversity, even personality." What the study proved beyond any doubt was that "senility is not inevitable with aging but is, instead, a consequence of disease." The research findings were published in an influential two-volume work, "Human Aging."
In 1961, once again skewering a negative cliché, this time of older people's perceived pathological obsession with the past, Dr. Butler established the importance of what he called "life review," a normal healthy process of looking back, whereby the older individual takes stock of his life.
And in 1968, he coined the term "ageism" in the course of an interview with the then-fledgling Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein (later of Watergate fame). Reflecting on community resistance to a program to establish housing for older people of moderate income in Chevy Chase, a posh neighborhood bordering the District of Columbia, "I was struck," says Dr. Butler, "by the parallel to sexism and racism in terms of negative attitudes toward age. 'You know, it's really an outrage,' I told Carl, 'it's like racism, it's ageism!" His outrage and the term he coined to describe it made it to a cover story in the Post. He subsequently wrote a paper, "Ageism, Another Form of Bigotry." The term stuck and has since found its way into the dictionary. "Of course, we still see plenty of it," he laments, "in the work place, in the health-care system,
In the meantime, Dr. Butler completed his residency, dividing his training time between the National Institute of Mental Health and Chestnut Lodge, a health-care facility in Maryland, and earned his board certification in psychiatry and neurology.
While pursuing a private psychiatry practice in Washington, D.C., he taught on the faculties of Howard University School of Medicine and George Washington University School of Medicine and served as a research psychiatrist and gerontologist at the Washington School of Psychiatry.
In 1975, he was offered the job of founding director of the newly created National Institute on Aging of the NIH, a position in which he served with distinction until 1982. The year 1975 proved a propitious year for Dr. Butler.
A Pulitzer Prize and NIA Leadership
On his first official day on the job at the helm of the new National Institute on Aging, he learned he won a Pulitzer Prize for his book "Why Survive? Being Old in America."
The news came in a phone call from a journalist who had previously scheduled an interview on the institute. "It certainly helped enhance my profile at the NIH!" Dr. Butler
The Pulitzer Prize helped him when it came time to sell his drafted plan, "Our Future Selves." Directors and other high level scientists who had previously been skeptical of the need for an institute specifically devoted to aging no doubt threatened by the diversion of funding were more amenable to productive dialogue with a Pulitzer Prize winner. "Before I left the job," he says, "I had a study or project going on with every other institute." Notable among these collaborative projects was a cancer treatment trial. Investigators had previously given lower dosages of chemotherapy to women over age 50, based on armchair estimates rather than clinical findings. The study confirmed Dr. Butler's suspicion that older women receiving a lower dosage were not getting the same benefit. Another collaborative study identified osteoporosis as a major issue. And yet another, with the Dental Institute, created an incentive for dentists willing to learn more about the care of older patients.
Among his proudest accomplishments at the NIH was an increase in public awareness of the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease. Thanks to interdisciplinary studies he spearheaded, and with the help of a patient advocacy group he helped found, the National Alzheimer's Disease Foundation, the disease became a household word and a national research priority.
Another photograph on the wall of his office shows Dr. Butler with his good friend and fellow activist, the late Congressman Claude Pepper, of Florida, with whom he worked on the drafting and passage of the historic Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Congressman Pepper remained a staunch ally and friend.
A Call from Mount Sinai to Chair America's
First Department of Geriatrics
In 1982, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine approached him, in his capacity as director of the National Institute on Aging, to advise the school on its plans to establish an Institute of Gerontology. In the course of discussions, Dr. Butler suddenly blurted out: "You know, you could really make history, breakthrough history, if, instead of an institute, you created a Department of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai!" The idea found fertile soil. That very weekend he was invited by telegram to serve as the founding chair of such a department. And though he initially declined, reluctant to leave the NIH, he ultimately leapt at "the chance to have a direct impact on medical education, in terms of curriculum development in the care of older people."
Confronting the same initial resistance from colleagues at Mount Sinai that he had faced at the NIH, Dr. Butler held sway and ultimately built strong interdisciplinary programs and helped raise a considerable endowment for the support of research, including chairs in molecular biology of aging, Alzheimer's disease, and the neurobiology of aging. At Mount Sinai, he established a number of "special emphasis clinics," including the first osteoporosis clinic in New York City. He is particularly proud of the cadre of young clinical investigators he helped recruit and nurture.
Dr. Butler, age 28, seated to the left of tape recorder, discussing the findings of the landmark Human Aging Study at the National Institute of Mental Health in 1955
The International Longevity Center:
A "Think and Do Tank"
At Mount Sinai in 1990, Dr. Butler founded the U.S. branch of what would later become the International Longevity Center, devoted to the study of "the impact of longevity upon society and its institutions." The center, now a Mount Sinai affiliate, has offices in Tokyo, London, Paris, and Santo Domingo. In 1995, while maintaining his academic appointment, Dr. Butler relinquished the chairmanship of the Department of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai and committed himself heart and soul to the Longevity Center as its president and CEO.
When asked about the center's mission, he likes to quote the late nonagenarian jazz pianist Eubie Blake: "Had I known it would have taken me so long, I would have taken better care of myself!"
"I'd had the wonderful and varied experiences of working in a lab, teaching, running things, conceptualizing, pursuing my own research," he reflects. "What I felt we really needed now was an educational policy research center, a think and do tank, to identify the consequences of an aging population, the long-term economic, cultural, social, political, and health consequences of this unprecedented increase in longevity." The center also is committed to "mobilizing the productive capabilities of older people...and to optimizing the use of our resources toward that end." Another priority is "combating ageism, prejudice with respect to age."
The "Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons," which Dr. Butler was invited to draft in 1982 for the United Nations World Assembly on Aging, has since become a widely disseminated and accepted standard worldwide and a blueprint for the center's efforts.
"Love and Sex After Sixty"
and Life's other Enduring Pleasures
Meanwhile, Dr. Butler and his wife and co-author, Dr. Myrna Lewis, kept on challenging cliché in print. Their 1976 landmark study of the vitality of the mature libido, "Love and Sex After Sixty," for which, when it first appeared, a newspaper in Florida refused to accept an ad, was recently declared a classic by Time Magazine.
"Older people were regarded as sexless," Dr. Butler explains. "'Well, we didn't find that in our studies at NIH; sex was still going on,' I said to my editor at Harper & Row. And Myrna said, 'Why don't we do a book on this and all of those vestiges of ageism?'" Among other thenradical notions, the book called for a new idea of beauty.
As the authors eloquently put it, "The idea of beauty desperately needs to be revised to include character, intelligence, expressiveness, knowledge, achievement, disposition, tone of voice and speech patterns, posture and bearing, warmth, personal style, social skills all those personal traits that make each individual unique and that can be found at any age."
Dr. Butler is currently at work on a new book, "The Longevity Revolution," in which he weighs in on controversial issues, including America's private health insurance system "in my judgment, a true disaster!" private pensions, and Social Security. He favors a balanced economic approach, including raising the ceiling on taxable Social Security wages and, given today's longer life expectancy, he recommends raising the age at which workers become eligible for benefits.
A co-founder of the Alzheimer's Disease Association, the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, and the American Federation for Aging Research, he is a founding Fellow of the American Geriatrics Society and founding vice chairman of the Alliance for Aging Research. He served as chair of the Advisory Committee to the 1995 White House Conference on Aging and continues to consult to national and international bodies, including the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and the World Health Organization. Dr. Butler has received honorary degrees from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and the University of Southern California and has received many other encomia.
Having covered all the bases in his varied medical career, including public health, biomedical research, academe, private medical practice, and administration and management, he offers a tongue-in-cheek prognosis: "Just can't stick with anything for very long!"
Now a proud grandfather himself, he has, in fact, stuck through thick and thin with the firm conviction, instilled in him by his own grandparents, of the value of life at all its stages. Or as he put it in the original preface to "Why Survive?": "When we talk about old age, each of us is talking about his or her own future. We must ask ourselves if we are willing to settle for mere survival when so much more is possible."
Profiles in Giving
Edgar M. Housepian'53
BY PETER WORTSMAN
THE EDGAR M. HOUSEPIAN'53 PROFESSORSHIP OF NEUROLOGICAL Surgery at P&S, established by a bequest from the late James Simpson Lynch Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth, caps off the career of a pioneering neurosurgeon and reaffirms his attachment to the institution at which he spent his professional career and made his mark.
Son of a beloved and respected physician to the Armenian-American community in New York, Dr. Housepian was medically primed from the start. Following a tour of duty as an aviator in the Navy Air Corps, he entered P&S, where the daring work then being done in neurosurgery captured his imagination. Subsequently honing his skills at the Neurological Institute, he joined the clinical faculty in the Department of Neurological Surgery and played an important role in the early development of the field of functional stereotactic surgery.
At P&S, he worked with his avowed mentor, the late J. Lawrence Pool'32, on early surgical procedures to treat Parkinson's disease and other functional neurological disorders. Challenged by Dr. Pool to be innovative, Dr. Housepian developed a universal needle holder and a bipolar grid that greatly improved accuracy. In addition, he and the late Malcolm Carpenter collaborated on the first development of coordinates for the globus pallidus by brain measurements, with results confirmed by stereotactic biopsy studies. Dr. Housepian also collaborated with Vernon Mark at Harvard in the design of another stereotactic instrument that increased the effectiveness of thalamic stimulation and the accuracy of thalmotomy. Working with yet another colleague, Dr. Dominic Purpura, Dr. Housepian participated in landmark research in electrophysiology of the brain in animal models, findings that he was able to translate in clinical studies.
He is also noted for the success of his operations on orbital tumors, cancers of the optic nerve, in which he established a widely followed protocol.
"One of the reasons I've loved being at Columbia," he says, "is that the institution allowed me to be truly creative."
He repaid the kindness in 1994, playing an instrumental role in establishing the J. Lawrence Pool'32 Professorship in Neurological Surgery. "That gave me a great deal of pleasure!"
Another cause to which he committed himself heart and soul was the medical response in the wake of the devastating Armenian earthquake of 1988. Spearheading relief efforts, he helped organize the gathering and shipment of medical supplies and equipment and played a leading role in coordinating postgraduate medical educational exchanges with Armenia.
Following his retirement from teaching and practice in 1997, he was appointed special adviser to the dean for international affiliations. He continues to serve as a special lecturer in neurological surgery. Recipient of the 2002 Humanitarian Award of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, he was honored by the Academy of Sciences of Armenia with an honorary doctorate. Back home at P&S he was the recipient of the Gold Foundation Humanitarian Award.
Recipient of the 2002 Humanitarian Award of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, he was honored by the Academy of Sciences of Armenia with an honorary doctorate. Back home at P&S he was the recipient of the Gold Foundation Humanitarian Award.
Based on the wishes of the late Mr. and Mrs. Lynch, the Housepian Professorship will be held by a proven innovator, who, like the man for which it was named, has a primary interest in clinical or basic research in the etiology, pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention of neurological disorders.
Rx for Travel
Down Under, the
Subway Turns 100
PHOTO CREDIT: GILLES VAUCLAIR
BY PETER WORTSMAN
ON OCT. 27, 1904, THE DAY THE IRT, THE OLDEST LINK IN NEW York City's subway system, opened for its first run, 150,000 New Yorkers engaged in the first experience of rapid transit. That number has since grown to an estimated 7 million passengers a day on a grid of some 722 miles of track. Careening down under for a hundred years and counting, the subway is still the quickest way to get from here to there while gridlock reigns above.
I may well be that rare anomaly, a native New Yorker who actually likes riding the underground rails. But how else can you whiz from 59th Street to 125th in a single leap, slip under the East River without getting wet, then suddenly rise above the rooftops of Queens for an aweinspiring look back at the Manhattan skyline?
There's history underground, if you know where to look. The old IRT stations on the East and West Side are lined with original mosaics and plaques installed by Italian craftsmen a century ago. The polished plaster beavers that still hug the walls of the Astor Place stop on the Number 6 Line mark the spot where John Jacob Astor ran his beaver hat factory, and the surviving mosaics depicting a castle at Christopher Street on the Number 1 line recall the foreboding prison that once loomed above. And don't miss Columbia's resplendent blue Alma Mater mosaic at 116th Street, likewise on the 1 line.
There's plenty of contemporary art too, like the faux dinosaur bone and fossil inset at 81st Street (on the B and C) below the Museum of Natural History and the whimsical sculptures at Union Square (4, 5, and 6). Down under Times Square you can catch hot jazz, a flute and guitar trio from the Andes, or a mariachi band from Mexico.
True, the shriek of steel on steel may grate on the eardrums and the scent is not always pleasant, but there's nothing quite like the dreamlike thrill of standing in the first car of a train peering out the window into the cavernous tunnel ahead.
On this truly democratic mode of transport, you can rub elbows with savvy CEOs who've left their limo stuck in traffic and blind men guided by their trusty seeing-eye dogs.
You can ride the A train (immortalized by Billy Strayhorn in the classic jazz tune) from the northern tip of Manhattan all the way out to the Jamaica Wildlife Refuge, a national park within city limits, where multiple species of wild birds nest just across the bay from the runways of Kennedy International Airport. You can hop the F to hobnob with baby whales at the New York Aquarium or continue on to Coney Island for a spin on the Wonderwheel and a hot dog at Nathan's. Or if you're feeling landlocked, take the Number 5 to South Ferry and climb aboard a free ferry to Staten Island, peering back for an unforgettable view of Manhattan Island the way new immigrants saw it.
Or strike up a conversation with a stranger. Etched in my memory is a long literary chat on the downtown A, apropos of the book I was reading, Pushkin's "Queen of Spades," with a dreadlocked Rastafarian, who informed me of the great Russian author's part African ancestry, the day my daughter was born at Babies Hospital.
A journalist's privilege once got me into the original stop under City Hall where history huddled among shattered chandeliers. The site is off limits to the public, but there are plenty of other hot spots to discover. With two bucks and a pair of eyes, enjoy your ride.
Alumni Weekend 2005
Olympic swimmer Jenny Thompson'06 shares some of her gold medals with Dean of Students Dr. Linda Lewis
Docs & Jocks: P&S Alumni
Players and Healers
A salute to Olympic swimmer Jenny Thompson'06, the most decorated swimmer in Olympic history, highlighted this year's P&S Alumni Reunion Weekend at the Dean's Day program May 13. The program, titled "Docs and Jocks: P&S Alumni Players and Healers," also featured a star-studded alumni panel of players and practitioners, from a national squash champion to a mountain climber.
In his welcoming remarks, Dean Gerald Fischbach spoke of plans for new additions to the medical center campus.
"People often ask how a presumably intelligent figure got interested in mountain climbing," reflected Sherman M. Bull'62, assistant professor of clinical surgery at P&S, who set the world record some years ago as the oldest man and first father in a father-son team to climb Mount Everest. "Everest," he said, "is an intimidating peak...a grueling endurance marathon at high altitude, but the risks are manageable... Climbing," he added, "takes me away from everything else... You're really all there." At sea-level, Dr. Bull rides a Harley Davidson.
Sherman M. Bull'62
"If you asked me at an unguarded moment, who are you really?" said Michael D. Iseman'65, "I'd say, I am an athlete." In his life outside of sports, Dr. Iseman, professor of medicine in pulmonary sciences and infectious diseases
at University of Colorado School of Medicine, is an internationally recognized authority on multidrug resistant tuberculosis. A former all-star running back in football, allstate basketball forward, and Nebraska "Athlete of the Year," he noted: "For many of us, the hard-won lessons of sports have guided us throughout our careers."
Orthopedist-athlete James Elting'66 delivered an informative talk on "Exercise and Sport After Hip or Knee Replacement." Dr. Elting, a member of the P&S clinical faculty of orthopedic surgery at Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, begins each day with a long row out on Goodyear Lake in upstate New York. He is an adamant proponent of sports for life. The fitness and strength area in Bard Hall was named in his honor.
William Mitchell Jr.'76, clinical instructor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard, spoke on "The Athletic Experience: Injury & Recovery." A past medical director of the U.S.A. Olympic Team Trials/Gymnastics, he knows the score of athletic aches and pains first-hand as a former member of the U.S. Gymnastics Team that competed against the Soviet Union in 1971.
A. Martin Clark Jr.'00 was up next with a talk titled "'Squashing' the Competition," in which he recounted his experience as national squash champion in 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2000.
Christopher K. Kepler'05, outgoing president of the P&S Club and social chair of the Rugby Club, gave the muddy low-down on "Tough and Tumble: P&S and Rugby."
A Salute to "Our Olympian"
Undoubtedly the most stirring moment in the program was when Alumni Association President Jay Lefkowitch'76 invited Olympic swimmer Jenny Thompson's coach, John Collins, to present her with a special award. Ms. Thompson graciously accepted the award, emphasizing her commitment to her new calling. "To be honest," she said, "success in athletics is a selfish activity. In my heart I know that I've made the correct choice for my second career...one that enhances humanity." Competing in the Olympic Games since 1992, and right up through the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Jenny Thompson is the winner of 12 medals in swimming, including three gold medals as part of the world record-breaking 400 meter free relay, 400 meter medley relay, and the 800 meter free relay. This makes her the single most decorated swimmer in Olympic history.
Revered Dean of Students
Women in Medicine Award
Alumni Association president Jay Lefkowitch'76 invited Dr. Herbert Pardes, president of New York-Presbyterian Hospital and former dean of P&S, to deliver a salute to Linda Donelle Lewis, M.D., Hon P&S'02, this year's recipient of the Virginia Kneeland Frantz'22 Distinguished Women in Medicine Award. Dr. Pardes spoke on behalf of "a cadre of thousands of medical students who are indebted to her for wisdom, guidance, and support during the difficult period of becoming a physician." Dean Lewis, who was first appointed to the position by the late Dean Donald Tapley in 1979 and presided over the Student Affairs Office for 26 years, stepped down in June. (See page 22 for a profile of Dr. Lewis.)
Dean Gerald Fischbach
Dean's Day Luncheon
Highlights Art and Music
At the Dean's Day luncheon, Dr. Dickson Despommier ran a silent auction of the art work of members of the medical center community, the proceeds of which benefit the P&S Club. Student musicians provided entertainment.
P&S Reunions Rock the Apple
On May 13, reunion classes fanned out to some of the city's finest clubs to mark the moment. A reporter shadowed the Class of 1955 at the Century Club and found the conversation to be lively, the memories vivid, the shrimp succulent, and the drinks potent. Dean Gerald Fischbach, who stopped by for the traditional reading from student records and distribution of symbolic diplomas, chuckled: "You're finally going to hear what Robert Loeb really thought about you." Dr. Fischbach reserved special praise for two members of the class, Andrew G. Frantz '55, chairman of the P&S Admissions Committee "There's something about what Andy does that brings us the best students in the country year after year!" and Richard Elias'55, a devoted alumnus and longstanding member and incoming chairman of the Health Sciences Advisory Council.
Alumni Day Scientific Session
As per tradition, Alumni Day Chairman Andrew G. Frantz'55 began the proceedings with a salute to an outstanding emeritus member of the faculty, this year's Honorary Alumni Day Chairman, Parithychery Srinivasan, M.D. An internationally respected biochemist, Dr. Srinivasan is best known for his pioneering research on the methylated bases in nucleic acids which resulted in the finding of the species specificity of nucleic acid methylations and, consequently, the realization that methylation may play an important role as a regulator of protein synthesis. A member of the Department of Biochemistry since 1958, he served as acting chairman from 1974-77. He was twice selected "Teacher of the Year" by the P&S Class of 1982 and the Class of 1991 and once by a dental school class, in 1978.
2005 Honorary Alumni Day Chairman Dr. Parithychery Srinivasan,
Robin S. Goland'80
The following papers were presented:
"HIV-specific CD4+ T Cell Effector Functions," Philip J. Norris'95, senior scientist and director of the Immunology Blood Research Institute, San Francisco
"Hyperglycemia Unawareness: Diagnosis and Treatment of Diabetes in Hospitalized Patients," Robin S. Goland'80, associate professor of medicine, P&S, and codirector, Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center
"From Cytokines to Chemokines and Alarmins," Joost J. Oppenheim'60, chief, Laboratory of Molecular Immunoregulation, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH
"Genetics of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension," Jane H. Morse'55, professor emeritus of clinical medicine, P&S
"Timers of Antenatal Hypoxemic-Ischemic Brain Damage," Richard L. Naeye'55, professor of pathology, Pennsylvania State College of Medicine
"Air Pollution and Health," Dudley F. Rochester'55, professor emeritus of medicine, University of Virginia
"The Night Eating Syndrome," Albert J. Stunkard'45, professor emeritus of psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Alfonse Masi'55 and his wife, Carrie Ruzal-Shapiro'82 and Peter Shapiro'80, 2005 Gold Medalists for Distinguished Achievements in Medicine Scott B. Halstead'55 and Albert J. Stunkard'45, Jacqueline A. Bello'80, 2005 Gold Medalist for Clinical Medicine Thomas P. Sculco'69, A. Martin Clark Jr.'00 and his fiancé
P&S Parties at Pier 60:
Gala Reception and Dinner Dance
As the setting sun lit up the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, and the official program of this year's gala reception and dinner dance at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers got under way, Alumni Association president Jay Lefkowitch'76 put the collective sentiments of the evening succinctly: "You are our present, you are our future. Congratulations!"
Wearing two hats, as chairman of the 50th anniversary class and chairman of the Admissions Committee at P&S, Andrew G. Frantz'55 had one eye on the past and one eye on the future. Recalling the end of the Korean War, an experience that marked many members of his class, he reflected on such time-honored P&S institutions as bonding at Bard Hall, acting in the Bard Hall Players, and participating in extracurricular activities in the P&S Club, the oldest medical student program of its kind in the country. "There is no doubt that medicine in the United States today is a far larger enterprise than when we graduated," he observed. He commended, above all, the considerable increase in women and under-represented minorities at P&S.
Jacqueline A. Bello'80 spoke on behalf of the 25th anniversary class. "Jay Lefkowitch said, 'Please be short,' I'm four feet, 10 and a half inches what did he have in mind?" "We were a class that knew the meaning of bonding," she said. "Ten of our classmates married 10 classmates. Twenty-two of us are still working at P&S or its affiliates." Proudly reporting on the student loan fund her class created in honor of the late Glenda Garvey'69, she turned to the graduates: "We hope that some of you will keep up the P&S tradition of becoming Nobel prize-winning professors to teach my children and grandchildren."
Speaking on behalf of the graduating class, Julianna Schantz-Dunn'05 said to members of the 50th anniversary class, "I hope we all look as good as you do 50 years from now."
Kenneth A. Forde'59 saluted this year's gold medal recipients. The Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievements in Medicine was shared by Albert J. Stunkard'45, a renowned authority on obesity and eating disorders, and Scott B. Halstead'55, a world-class researcher in tropical medicine known for, among other things, his landmark work on the origins and clinical course of hemorrhagic fever. The clinical laurels went to Thomas P. Sculco'69, professor of surgery (orthopedic) at Cornell, director of orthopedic surgery and chief of the surgical arthritis service at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and renowned innovator in joint replacement. Ronald A. Drusin'66 was hailed for meritorious service to the school and its alumni association, notably in his capacity as associate dean for education and long-standing chairman of the Curriculum Committee at P&S. Finally, Dr. Forde recognized Christopher K. Kepler'05, outgoing president of the P&S Club, as the graduating senior who demonstrated remarkable interest in and devotion to the school and its alumni association.
In his concluding remarks, Dean Gerald Fischbach said, "My happiest and most rewarding times in the last four years have been spent with students and alumni."
Alumni Association Activities
Two P&S Alumni
Shearwood McClelland'74 with Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and Alumni Federation President Paul M. Thompson
P&S figured large with two honorees among Columbia alumni saluted at the Columbia University Alumni Federation Commencement Day Luncheon. Laurance J. Guido'69, a 1965 Columbia College graduate, a distinguished neurosurgeon, and former director of the University's Office of Alumni Relations, was recognized for his service to the University. Shearwood J. McClelland'74, a member of the clinical faculty at P&S, director of orthopedic surgery at Harlem Hospital, and one of the most charismatic presidents of the P&S Alumni Association in modern times, also was honored.
At the council dinner on April 6, 2005, Alumni Association president Jay Lefkowitch'76 asked for a moment of silence to remember the late Carl Feind'59. An academic surgeon in the best sense of the word, Dr. Feind's scholarly research made significant inroads in the fields of head and neck, thyroid and parathyroid surgery. Also a pioneer in interdisciplinary research, he pursued numerous collaborative projects with colleagues in pathology and internal medicine. He was remembered as a man of great gusto and abundant energy and a friend to all.
Guest speaker Kenneth Forde'59, the Jose M. Ferrer Professor of Surgery, thrilled those in attendance with a lively condensed history of the Department of Surgery, his talk subtitled "Response to Challenge and Change." Dr. Forde recalled surgical giants of old, like Allen Oldfather Whipple, a founding member of the American Board of Surgery, who headed the Department of Surgery at P&S from 1921 through 1946. Dr. Whipple is most famous for the operation he devised for the removal of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Forde also reflected on the accomplishments of modern masters, including the current chairman Eric A. Rose'75. Dr. Rose, who, as a daring young surgeon, performed the first successful pediatric heart transplant, has, in Dr. Forde's view, helped strengthen the bond between basic and clinical science. In closing, Dr. Forde expressed his own good fortune in having pursued his career in such a dynamic department.
American College of Physicians Dinner
Columbia University trustee Clyde Wu'56, a distinguished cardiologist, hosted a dinner April 15 at the Argent Hotel in San Francisco for alumni and friends in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American College of Physicians. More than 80 physicians, family members, and friends attended, including Dr. Wu's wife, Helen, and their son, Roger Wu, M.D., a child psychiatrist whose patient base comprises members of the Chinese community in San Francisco. Dr. Wu spoke of the bold new initiative under way in New York to build a new Columbia complex in Manhattanville as a bridge between the downtown and medical center campuses. The dinner speaker was Dr. David A. Brenner, professor and chairman of medicine at P&S, who, in his remarks, shared some of the excitement of medical advances at the CUMC campus. Anke Nolting, associate dean and director of development and alumni relations, was also on hand to answer questions.
Parents Day Program
Parents Day 2005
Carmen Ortiz-Neu'63, clinical professor of medicine, officiated as chairman of the Parents Day Program April 16. Alumni Association president Jay Lefkowitch'76 welcomed the families and friends of students accepted into P&S for the Fall 2005 term. He reminded attendees to take a walk to the hospital gardens to see the cherry blossoms in bloom. "So even here at 168th Street," he said, "we do have an oasis. Our real pride and the reason the school is what it is," he added, "is our superb students."
"I agree with Jay," Dean Gerald Fischbach told the group. "Our greatest resource is our students." He also touched upon plans under way for revolutionary changes in the curriculum and of the opening the new Irving Cancer Research Center, among other matters.
Representatives of the school administration gave presentations: Andrew G. Frantz'55, professor of medicine and dean for admissions; Linda D. Lewis, M.D., senior associate dean for student affairs; Hilda Y. Hutcherson, M.D., associate dean for minority affairs and diversity; Ronald E. Drusin ‘66, professor of clinical medicine and associate dean for education; and Ellen Spilker, director of the Office of Student Financial Planning. Rita Charon, M.D., Ph.D., professor of clinical medicine, discussed the narrative medicine course and Ronald O. Rieder, M.D., professor of clinical psychiatry, outlined the residency selection process. Kate Nellans'06, Khady Diouf‘05, and Perry F. Wilson'06 rounded out the program with the student perspective. Professor emeritus and former chairman of urology, John K. Lattimer'38, delivered a slide lecture, in his own inimitable style, on P&S history. The student groups, the Ultrasounds and the Vocal Cords, provided harmony.
BY MARIANNE WOLFF'52
Class of 1944
HOMER D. PEABODY JR., executive director of the Rees-Stealy Clinic in San Diego, has written a book about the history of the clinic, the first multispecialty group in San Diego. The group started with two doctors at one small site but has grown to 330 doctors in 15 large sites and is affiliated with five hospitals in San Diego County. The group has been extremely successful and has had experience with managed care for more than 35 years.
GENE H. STOLLERMAN received last year's "Mentor Award" from the Infectious Disease Society of America. Further, a chair has been established in his honor at Boston University Medical School, where Gene is professor of medicine and public health, emeritus.
Class of 1946
Retired for almost 20 years, JAMES H. MASON is the former chief attending surgeon and director of surgery at Atlantic City Medical Center. He spends his time volunteering at a variety of institutions.
Still practicing medicine, but not for the money, LOUIS J. VORHAUS comments that in the present system one would have to see six to seven patients an hour "to make big bucks." This is not the way he was taught by Drs. Loeb, Atchley, Hanger, and Seegal, but he says, "I go home happy, knowing that I've done a good job for my ever-loving and everloved patients."
Class of 1947
The 28th annual Bristol-Myers Squibb Freedom to Discover" Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research went to ALFRED G. KNUDSON, who is Distinguished Scientist and senior adviser to the president at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He was recognized for his "two-hit" model of cancer development when tumor-suppressor genes are damaged and for contributing to the understanding of the role of heredity in causing cancer.
Class of 1949
Former president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, PAUL A. MARKS is continuing his research at that institution. He is "delighted to be free of the administrative responsibilities" so that he can devote himself to research.
Class of 1950
Earlier this year GEORGE H. HARRIS celebrated his 95th birthday! George is a retired radiologist who lives in Bremerton, Wash.
ROGER A. MACKINNON, professor emeritus of clinical psychiatry at P&S, continues his parttime practice of psychoanalysis and is revising a textbook he co-authored. Last fall Roger and his wife, Cynthia, enjoyed a hiking trip in the Swiss Alps.
Class of 1952
Radiation oncologist DAVE BENNINGHOFF is still working on a part-time basis. He reminisces how fortunate he was to have studied, as an intern, on the Columbia Division at Bellevue under three Nobelists: DICKINSON RICHARDS'23, Andre Cournand, and BARRY BLUMBERG'51.
Professor emeritus at UCSF and Eminent Scientist at the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara, JOSEPH C. SHIPP has helped develop a joint research program with scientists at the University of California at Santa Barbara, an institution that boasts four Nobel Prizes in the past five years. He is working on embryonic stem cell research funded by California's Proposition 71, which allocates $10 billion over a span of 10 years. Joe and his family enjoy life in California and announce the recent arrival of a granddaughter.
Class of 1953
JAMES C. NEELY retired in 1999 as clinical professor of surgery at UCSF. He is a published author and poet. His son, ROBERT'08, is teaching him the "new anatomy."
Nobel Laureate to Head Oldest Learned Society in America
BY PETER WORTSMAN
When not hunting down viruses and extremophiles in inhospitable climes, the epidemiologist-virologist-
geneticist-biochemist-anthropologist Baruch S. Blumberg’51 has been known to kayak down
rivers and climb mountains. Distinguished Scientist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and
University Professor of Medicine and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Blumberg
was the recipient in 1976 of a Nobel Prize for the discovery of the hepatitis B virus.
Since then, his career has included stints as master of Balliol College, Oxford, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute,
inventor, botanist, author, and sometime cattle farmer. To this long and varied list of accomplishments he now adds a term as
president of the American Philosophical Society. The oldest learned society in the United States, it was established in 1743 by
Benjamin Franklin for the promotion of “useful knowledge.” To serve that end, Dr. Blumberg founded the Society’s Lewis and Clark
Fund for Exploration and Field Research, no doubt with the benign ulterior motive of grooming fit companions and successors
for future intellectual treks.
Class of 1959
Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health, ALLAN G. ROSENFIELD was honored by the National Association of People with AIDS for his lifetime dedication to addressing the public health challenges that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has created both domestically and abroad. Allan also established (and co-heads) MTCT-Plus, a multicountry program for HIVinfected women. In addition he chairs the New York State Governor's Advisory Council in HIV/AIDS and serves as chairman of the Public Policy Committee of amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
Class of 1961
In 2004 LOUIS SHERWOOD was elected Master of the American College of Physicians and is
currently president-elect of the American Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians. Though officially retired, he continues to lecture on quality health care and leadership and is president of an independent consulting firm. He also serves as chairman for his P&S class.
Class of 1962
KENNETH H. COHN, a general surgeon, has written a book, "Better Communication for Better Care: Mastering Physician-Administrator Collaboration." It is published by Health Administration Press in Chicago.
JOHN N. SHEAGREN became a Master of the American College of Physicians last year. He is chairman of medicine at the Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. In his subspecialty, infectious diseases, he has done research on cellular immunology, staph infections, and septic shock. He has received numerous awards for his teaching.
Class of 1963
GERALDINE P. SCHECHTER was one of the 50 Fellows of the American College of Physicians to be advanced to the rank of Master of the College. Gerry is working for the VA in the Washington, D.C., area.
Class of 1965
KEITH BRODIE serves as chairman of the Police Review Board for the city of Durham, N.C. He reports that he received the annual alumni award from the New Canaan Country School.
Class of 1966
An exhibition of sculpture by GEORGE T. SAJ was held in November 2004 in the Montclair, N.J., Public Library. The exhibit was titled "Head Games." One of his pieces was awarded first place in a 2002 show in Clifton, N.J. His works also have been shown in Cleveland, Chicago, and New York. George is a surgeon by vocation.
Class of 1967
The Hawaii State Psychiatric Society has elected LESLIE HARTLEY GISE as its new president.
Class of 1968
PETER R. SMITH is professor of clinical medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, chief of pulmonary medicine at Long Island College Hospital, and president of the New York City branch of the American Lung Association.
Class of 1969
As of the summer of 2004, LYNNE JOHNSON returned to Columbia as director of nuclear cardiology. She states that it is good to be "home" again.
Class of 1970
An otolaryngologist, JAMES Z. CINBERG specializes in balance and hearing problems; he works primarily with the urban poor and comments that "as each year passes, patients' unmatched needs increase as the social health safety net frays."
Class of 1949
Associate clinical professor of surgery at UCLA, MICHAEL F. MCGUIRE specializes in aesthetic plastic surgery. He recently completed terms as chairman of the Board of Lumetra, the Medicare quality improvement organization for California, and president of AAAASF, the largest accrediting organization for ambulatory surgery centers in the nation. Currently he serves on the boards of both national plastic surgery societies. Mike is in private practice the remainder of the time.
Class of 1973
One of the Second Century Awards, given by the Friends of Harlem Hospital Center, was given to YVONNE S. THORNTON, vice chairwoman of ob/gyn at Jamaica Hospital Center and professor of clinical ob/gyn at Cornell. She received the award at a gala dinner dance in November 2004. Her husband, SHEARWOOD J. MCCLELLAND'74, also received an award.
Class of 1974
Boston University has named KAREN ANTMAN provost and dean of medicine. Karen served as head of medical oncology at Columbia for a number of years, before joining the National Cancer Institute and moving to Boston, where her husband and classmate, ELLIOTT, is head of the CCU at Brigham & Women's Hospital.
SHEARWOOD J. MCCLELLAND, director of orthopedic surgery at Harlem Hospital Center and associate professor of clinical orthopedic surgery at P&S, received a Second Century Award, given by the Friends of Harlem Hospital Center, at a gala dinner dance in November 2004. Shearwood is the immediate past president of the P&S Alumni Association. His wife, YVONNE S. THORNTON'73, also received an award.
Class of 1977
Director of inpatient psychiatry at the newly renovated unit on the ninth floor of the Milstein Hospital Building at New York-Presbyterian, STAN ARKOW also continues his private practice on the Upper West side of Manhattan and in Westchester County.
A resident of Palm Beach, Fla., ROSS G. STONE is president-elect of the medical staff at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, Fla. He is also chairman of the IRB there. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Palm Beach County Medical Society and a member of the FLAMPAC Board of the Florida Medical Association.
Class of 1980
Mark L. Zeidel'80
MARK L. ZEIDEL, an internist, nephrologist, and expert in epithelial biology and water transport, has been named chairman of the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel/Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He previously was affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh, first as chief of nephrology, then rising to Jack D. Myers Professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine. He was elected to membership of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. His new position represents a homecoming for Mark: He was born at Beth Israel and spent time at the hospital during his fellowship training.
Class of 1981
ROBERT M. GOLUB has assumed his new position as senior editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Class of 1982
The Reading Hospital & Medical Center in Reading, Pa., has appointed SETH ROSENZWEIG director of the Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Unit.
Class of 1983
STEPHEN C. BOOS works in the field of child abuse, dividing his time between Maryland and New Jersey. He is associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, but he and his wife, Kit, make their home in "a little house on the prairie" in North Potomac, Md.
The Mayo Medical School has appointed RICHARD C. CASELLI chairman of the Department of Neurology and professor of neurology.
In December 2004, an article titled "Gastric Cancer Originating from Bone Marrow-Derived Cells" appeared in Science; its senior author, TIMOTHY C. WANG, is chief of the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases and Dorothy L. and Daniel H. Silberberg Professor of Medicine at P&S. Although the research was performed in mice, the concept is that damaged gastric mucosal cells, e.g., by infections such as H. pylori, may be replaced by bone-marrow-derived stem cells. Tim, part of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia, hopes to translate his research findings into patients at high risk for gastric cancer and to look for new treatments.
Class of 1984
RACHEL FRIEDMAN BREM was appointed vice chairwoman of radiology and associate director of George Washington University's cancer center. She is working on new approaches to breast imaging, particularly computer-aided diagnosis. Her husband is chairman of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. One of her three daughters is studying at Columbia College.
Class of 1985
LISA DIAMOND is director of psychiatry at New Milford Hospital in Connecticut. Two of her five children are now in college; both are pre-med majors.
JANET R. REISER is a gastroenterologist at a model HMO in Phoenix. She finds her work very interesting and rewarding. Her husband is a toxicologist in a local hospital. They and their two daughters enjoy living in Phoenix.
Class of 1989
JEFF EDELMAN is associate professor of pulmonary diseases/critical care in Portland, Ore. The family now consists of his wife, Ming-Ming, a daughter, and an infant son. See Class of 1990 for news of DAVID R. HASELEY.
BRIAN C. TOOLAN has been appointed associate editor of Foot and Ankle International.
Class of 1990
As clinical assistant professor of nephrology at the University of Washington, LEAH A. HASELEY (nee Schachter) enjoys a great deal of teaching. She thanks P&S daily for her outstanding education. Leah and her husband, DAVID R. HASELEY'89, live in Seattle with their three sons.
Class of 1995
Assistant Professor of Surgery at P&S, KATHIE-ANN JOSEPH was named one of Crain's New York "40 under 40" rising stars of 2005. Crain's annually honors young professionals who have made an impact on New York and have positively affected their community's quality of life. Kathie-Ann, who also holds an MPH degree from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia, is a breast surgeon and one of the few people chosen for this honor from outside the business world. Earlier this year she spoke at the NIH/NCI President's Cancer Panel on the role of academic medical centers in translating research into clinical practice.
Class of 1999
SHAHID AZIZ is a member of the full-time faculty in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at UMDNJ in Newark, N.J. Earlier this year he led a group of physicians and nurses to Ecuador, under the auspices of Healing the Children, where they treated 25 babies for cleft lip/palate.
Class of 2002 and 2003
JINESH N. SHAH'02 would like to express his thanks to various people at P&S, especially ANDREW G. FRANTZ'55 and BECKY BAUER'03 for introducing him to JASWINDER K. LEGHA'03. Jinesh and Jaswinder will be "permanently intertwining their stethoscopes" when they marry in Houston, Texas, in October 2005.
Class of 2004
Physicians at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association elected SAMANTHA CRAMOY, a pediatric resident at Children's Hospital in Boston, to a two-year term as the resident/fellow representative to the AMA Board of Trustees. Samantha served on the Governing Council of the AMA Medical Student Section and was instrumental in the creation of the MSS Committee on Health Access. Through this involvement, she has positioned the MSS as a voice in shaping the AMA's health system reform policies.
Samantha's candidacy for the AMA Board of Trustees was sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the AMA Section Council on Pediatrics. She was endorsed by the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Children's Hospital Boston Department of Medicine, and the Massachusetts Medical Society Resident and Fellow Section.