Details, updates, and observations from alumni
Who was your mentor when you were an HMS student, and how did that person’s advice guide you?
Joseph Parrish, PhD ’69
Judah Folkman, MD ’57, and I co-authored a book in 1968. It became the basis of the MIT-HMS medical bioengineering school. I met with the physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital, the former Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, and elsewhere who were working on everything from plutonium-powered artificial hearts, contact lenses, and prototypes of kidney dialysis membranes. Judah transcribed and edited my notes into the final book. Elkan Blout in biological chemistry was my thesis advisor.
Sean O’Connor, MD ’82
John Hall and the other pediatric orthopedic surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Mary Flowers, MD ’78
Harold Amos, AM ’47, PhD ’52,a noted microbiologist, and Alvin Poussaint, a psychiatrist and member of the HMS faculty, embraced me as an African American student when my face was still stinging from my experiences in segregated schools in the South. These strong professors inspired me to transcend race and gender. They convinced me that hard work, integrity, humility, and the conviction to serve humanity were equally as important as passing exams and making good grades. They taught me that I deserved to be at Harvard—that Harvard benefits from my African American experience. Grateful!
Ryan Chuang, MD ’03
The other students around me were very inspiring.
Peter Zawadsky, MD ’68
Charles A. Janeway, MD ’69,was the physician-in-chief at Boston Children’s. He successfully guided me through a period when I was not sure whether I wanted a career in pediatrics or internal medicine.
Howard Rubenstein, MD ’57
My favorite mentors were Avram Goldstein, MD ’43, professor of pharmacology and extracurricular teacher of biostatistics, and David Rutstein, MD ’34, professor of public health. Both of these men had a grumpy exterior and were not particularly liked, let alone well-liked. But I loved them for their clarity of mind. If anyone taught me to be critical and analytical in my thinking, it was these two men. I still remember and admire them fondly. Has biostatistics made its way to the core curriculum yet?
Joan Leary Martinez, MD ’66
The humility and generosity of William Castle, MD ’21, inspired me. He was my hematology lab leader. One day he noticed that my lab stool was unsteady. The next lab day, he came with his tool kit and fixed my stool! I will never forget his thoughtfulness toward a preclinical medical student.
Ellis Rolett, MD ’55
I do not recall a specific mentor. However, several Mass General house staff, including Howard Rasmussen, MD ’52, and Stephen Krane, were role models during my fourth-year medicine clerkship and were instrumental in my choosing internal medicine as a career.
John Griffin, MD ’63
Daniel Federman, MD ’53, the first-year tutor for four of us in 1963 and 1964, was an extraordinary introduction to HMS. He combined a profound knowledge of medicine with a special warmth of communication and gentleness that encouraged our entry into the somewhat threatening environment of first year. We loved him.
When he attended HMS gatherings in St. Louis and Atlanta, some of which I organized, he continued to guide me by example. He has had a lasting effect on my life and career.
Kelly Orringer, MD ’94
Doris Bennett, MD ’49,was one of my Patient-Doctor preceptors. She was so gracious and kind, a wonderful role model for a budding pediatrician. As one of the pioneering women to become a medical student at HMS, she really inspired me.
Richard Peinert, MD ’73
Hermann Lisco was always the person to go to with a problem. Mine was the second class of the “new” curriculum. The class of 1971 finished first overall on part one of the boards and finished first in all six categories. The class of 1972 finished third, as did we. The faculty could not figure out what had gone wrong in that one year. I asked Dr. Lisco for his thoughts. “Richard,” he said, “the faculty are very concerned and trying so hard to make you the best. No matter how hard they try, they just can’t seem to ruin the students!” Great man.
David Altshuler, MD ’90, PhD ’90
I was an MD-PhD student and did my thesis with Connie Cepko in the Department of Genetics. She met with me every week and brought a laser-like focus to designing good experiments and helping me achieve my goals. Her example was always in my mind when I later became a mentor to my own students and fellows.
Edward Ussery, MMS ’08
There were several people who I consider my mentors. The neurologist Galen Henderson was always willing to discuss matters with me. Laurie Raymond, MD ’77, a psychiatrist, and Karen Wulfsberg, an education specialist at HMS, provided plenty of advice on how to deal with the culture on the wards and how to develop effective techniques for assimilating the material we needed to learn. Radiologist Michael Lev worked with me on a publication, and Robert Lees, MD ’59, played multiple supportive roles during my time as an HMS student.David Cardozo, PhD ’93, offered a sympathetic ear whenever I happened by.
Albert Menno, MD ’56
Francis Moore, MD ’39, a surgeon, was my first inspiration to continue with surgery.
Richard Reiling, MD ’67
I really didn’t have a single mentor throughout my years at HMS, but instead had multiple mentors who I respected and who gave me advice and direction. Because I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, Thomas Ballantine, MD ’67, was my most notable mentor. But many great teachers and classmates were helpful during those wonderful, difficult years. I remember with great admiration the urologist Wyland Leadbetter who, on a nice Saturday afternoon in May, waited to have me as his sole assistant in surgery.
Michael Cardi, MD ’77
The renal medicine expert Jeffrey Stoff was my first team attending, in 1977, during the first month of my internship in internal medicine at the former Beth Israel Hospital. Although we presented to him a simple, straightforward case of hyponatremia, I was impressed by the clarity of his review of the normal physiology of water excretion and the pathophysiology of the various causes of hyponatremia. This and other qualities about Jeff inspired me to become a nephrologist.
Richard Krueger, MD ’73
Hermann Lisco, Raquel Cohen, MD ’49, and Daniel Funkenstein mentored me while I was at HMS. All were terrific. Lisco, who taught anatomy, was in charge of prodigal medical students, so he saw me during the many years in which I took a leave of absence, withdrew, then reapplied to HMS. He was extraordinary. Cohen was my advisor in community psychiatry and was helpful, and Funkenstein followed my progress when I returned.
Herbert Adams, MD ’65
Francis Moore, MD ’39, was my mentor. Although a middling technical surgeon, Franny was a superb teacher. Whether instructing the lowly medical student or talking with the chief resident, he demanded that you know the patient better than you know your mom. He was always stimulating us to think creatively. “If you do not keep a list of possible diagnoses inclusively wide,” he would say, “you will never make the diagnosis.” With Franny, one always had to defend one’s course of therapy, which we all did with one another later.
William Thorpe, MD ’73
Grant Rodkey, MD ’43, was my mentor. Although he is now 97 years old, he remains active in the surgery unit at the VA Medical Center in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Grant befriended me during my first year, contacted me frequently, advised me on important medical issues, followed my work at Mass General, and has remained my friend through the years. I communicate with him often.
Claire Broome, MD ’75
As a student member of the first Joint Committee on the Status of Women, I received a lasting lesson from Dean Robert Ebert, who sent me and Eileen Shapiro, staff associate, to lobby in Washington for our idea of part-time residency training. We met with relevant committee staff and eventually the provision was included in the Health Manpower Act. The experience gave me a lifelong awareness of what could be accomplished with an idea, assertiveness, strategic persistence—and, possibly, the Harvard name.
Sarah Wood, MD ’95
My mentor was adolescent medicine expert Robert Masland, Jr. He inspired me to pursue a career in pediatrics and medical education. Working with him at HMS and at Boston Children’s taught me the importance of close-knit student-faculty relationships and the value and influence of critical role models. Since I left HMS, I have helped build an innovative new medical school, the Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, and as the school’s senior associate dean for medical education, I try to inspire medical students the same way he inspired me.
Thomas Ukena, PhD ’74, MD ’75
Hermann Lisco guided me through the MD-PhD program with kindness and wisdom.
Nason Hamlin, MD ’72
My mentor, Clifford Barger, MD ’43, was a fine teacher, researcher, and human being. He led me to a great fourth-year research project at Mass General with John Powell.
Our families kept in touch for many years after graduation.
Ernie-Paul Barrette, MD ’90
Michael J. Barry, who now heads up the general medicine unit at Mass General, was my attending when I was a sub-I at that hospital. He served as a role model, showing me that one could be a general internist, a clinician-educator, and an excellent physician.
James Alonzo Nelson, MD ’65
John F. Burke, MD ’51, professor of surgery at Mass General, spent several evenings mentoring a small group of medical students. George Nardi, an expert on diseases of the pancreas, also helped me to encourage the use of fiberoptic endoscopes.
William Elkins, MD ’58
Richard Warren, MD ’34, influenced me to pursue surgery.
John Bullock, MD ’68
David G. Cogan, MD ’32, a professor of ophthalmology at HMS, helped me publish my first paper, which describes my invention of a device for looking in your own eye. It was in the Archives of Ophthalmology, titled “Auto-Ophthalmoscopy.”
Kurt Isselbacher, MD ’50
Fuller Albright, MD ’24, was my mentor.
Francis Neelon, MD ’62
My mentor was a ghost. In 1958, Francis Weld Peabody, MD 1907, was 30 years dead, but HMS students were still given his essay “The Care of the Patient.” I read it and tossed it away. As an intern in 1962, something from Peabody’s essay began to ring in my ears. I found and reread the essay and was astonished at how wise Peabody had become in four short years. Dozens and dozens of rereadings always give me something new and timeless. I thank Harvard for putting his work in my unreceptive and unworthy hands.
Images: Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine