Drs. Philipp Wiesner, Benjamin Hulley Honored with 2013 Internal Medicine Residency Program Awards

Each year, the Internal Medicine Residency Program recognizes residents who embody the ideals of two highly esteemed faculty members, former Department of Medicine chair Dr. Ken Kaushansky, now at Stony Brook University, and the late Dr. Lee Rickman, associate clinical professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, who died while training medical personnel in Lesotho in 2003.

Program director Elaine Muchmore, MD, presented the Kaushansky and Rickman awards on June 19 at the last session of Medicine Grand Rounds for academic year 2012-2013.

The awards followed Benjamin Hulley’s presentation, “Are Physicians Ethically Obligated to Utilize the Placebo Effect?”  |  Watch the video (UCSD only)

Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP

Dr. Ken Kaushansky

Philipp Wiesner Receives Ken Kaushansky Award

Ken Kaushansky, MD, MACP, an esteemed physician-scientist, was Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Diego from 2002 until 2010. He is now dean of the School of Medicine and senior vice president of Health Sciences at Stony Brook University in New York.

Seeking to enhance the training of general internists at UC San Diego, Kaushansky established the residency program’s 2-month dedicated elective research block. On that rotation, a resident selects a faculty mentor, conducts a research project and presents the results.

The elective has steadily gained in popularity, with about half the residents now participating annually.

This year, the program directors chose four residents to present their research projects at Medicine Grand Rounds and selected one of them to receive the Kaushansky Award.


Dr. Philipp Wiesner

The winner was second-year resident Philipp Wiesner, MD, who presented his research project, “Oxidized Phospholipids in Inflammation and Atherosclerosis,” at the May 15 session of Grand Rounds.  |  More about Wiesner’s research  |  Watch the video (UCSD only)

Wiesner, who plans to be an academic physician-scientist, has pursued research in atherosclerosis since he was in medical school.

In accepting the award, he said, “A young scientist can never do well without a nurturing environment. I had great mentors, Joe Witztum, Yury Miller and Sam Tsimikas.

“I also want to thank the residency program for giving me the great opportunity both to do research here and also start my residency and do my clinical training here.”

Benjamin Hulley Receives the Lee Rickman Humanism in Medicine Award

The Lee Rickman Humanism in Medicine Award is given each year to a resident whose work recalls the energy and devotion of Lee Rickman, MD, a UC San Diego residency program graduate and Department of Medicine faculty member who practiced infectious disease medicine with singular passion until his death in 2003.

Rickman was acknowledged as the hands-down winner in the number of teaching awards given to a Department of Medicine faculty member.

In introducing the award, Muchmore said, “Lee didn’t just delve into topics — a wide variety of topics — but then, with passion, he taught them. It was not a joke that if we had a sudden cancellation of a Grand Rounds speaker or a noon conference speaker, somebody would turn to Lee and say, ‘Could you substitute tomorrow?’ And he would say, ‘Of course.'”

Drs. Elaine Muchmore and Ben Hulley

Drs. Elaine Muchmore and Ben Hulley

“The Rickman Award is a very high honor in the residency program,” she said. “It gives me great pleasure to award it to Ben Hulley.”

Hulley is one of the five incoming chief medical residents for 2013-2014. He received his undergraduate degree in biology and economics from UC San Diego and his MD degree from the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

In his remarks, Hulley credited his father, also a physician, who had come from northern California to be present in the audience.

“Thanks to my Dad for being a great role model and helping me get this far,” he said.

Stephen B. Hulley, MD, MPH, is professor in the Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at UC San Francisco.

The four resident research presentations and the presentations from the five incoming chief medical residents will be available via on-demand video (UCSD only) all summer.

Global Public Health Division joins the Department of Medicine

Steffanie A. Strathdee, Ph.D.The UCSD School of Medicine’s highly respected academic team of global public health specialists has joined the Department of Medicine.

The Division of Global Public Health, headed by Steffanie A. Strathdee, Ph.D., conducts research and education programs to address healthcare problems that transcend political borders.

Formerly known as the Division of International Health & Cross-Cultural Medicine, the division was a part of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

Division Chief Dr. Steffanie Strathdee is a top researcher, educator and thought leader in global health issues. She was recently appointed UCSD’s first Associate Dean for Global Medicine. Read the UCSD press release

“We are delighted to join outstanding leaders in academic medicine in the Department of Medicine,” Dr. Strathdee said.

“Our combined efforts will focus on reducing global health disparities and promoting training and education on global health issues that know no borders.”

Dr. Strathdee holds the Harold Simon Chair in Global Public Health and a professorship in the Department of Medicine.

The Division of Global Public Health has 16 full-time and many affiliated faculty members.

Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., M.A.C.P.“By joining the Department of Medicine, Steffanie and her colleagues have expanded our global reach to four continents,” said Dr. Ken Kaushansky, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

“Now, the Medicine faculty, fellows, residents and students have the opportunity to participate in the Global Public Health Division’s cutting-edge clinical research and innovative and insightful educational programs, and to deliver badly needed health care and self-help skills to citizens of the world.”

Robert Schooley, M.D.Dr. Robert Schooley, Professor and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, commented, “There has been a major increase in interest in international activities within the Department of Medicine over the last 5 years.

“Dr. Strathdee and her group will provide a new dimension to scholarly activities in global medicine within the Department of Medicine –in terms of both content and geography.

“The synergy between the internationally recognized epidemiology, public health and prevention programs in Dr. Strathdee’s group and the biomedical research activities in other divisions throughout the Department will greatly increase the productivity and visibility of global medicine activities at UCSD,” Dr. Schooley said.

Programs both global and local

The education and research programs of the UCSD Division of Global Public Health extend from the San Diego-Tijuana region to communities and institutions across the world.

“Of particular interest are the public health efforts of Steffanie and her group in the California-Mexico border region,” said Dr. Kaushansky. “They’ve been a model of how proactive public health programs can provide new insights into the origins of health care disparities.

“They also demonstrate how interventions based on careful study can make an important impact on the health of both our neighbors and the citizens of California.”

The division’s local projects include three NIH-sponsored research studies based in Tijuana and other cities situated on the Mexico-US border. The projects focus on HIV, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted infections.

The division currently offers three research training programs focusing on prevention of HIV and related infections and substance use:

In addition, the Division of Global Public Health has just completed a TIES (Training, Internship, Exchange, Scholarships) program, a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-sponsored effort to prevent HIV infection in Tijuana and northwest Mexico.

In local education at the postgraduate level, Dr. Strathdee is the Co-director of the Global Health track of the doctoral program in public health that is offered jointly with the San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health.

More about Dr. Strathdee

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee is a renowned infectious disease epidemiologist. Her research efforts have focused on preventing blood-borne infections such as HIV and removing barriers to healthcare delivery in underserved populations around the world.

Dr. Strathdee, who co-directs the International Core of the UCSD Center for AIDS Research, has published more than 300 scholarly reports on HIV/AIDS alone.

She joined the UCSD faculty from Johns Hopkins University five years ago. She holds an adjunct professorship in the Department of Epidemiology in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

For more information about the Division of Global Public Health, its faculty and activities, please visit the division’s website at http://gph.ucsd.edu.

More Information


Working Together to Improve Global Health

The mission of the Division of Global Public Health is to:

  • Increase awareness, skills and research capacity relating to international health and cross-cultural issues through educational activities directed to faculty, students, fellows and the community;
  • Conduct high-caliber research on health-related issues and service utilization facing populations in international settings, U.S. minorities and migrants to the U.S.;
  • Provide opportunities for students to experience clinical and research activities in international settings and diverse communities;
  • Initiate, participate and foster collaborations on international health activities within and between departments in the UCSD School of Medicine, the general UCSD campus, organized research units, and U.S.-based and international agencies and institutions;
  • Offer advice and consultation on international health topics as needed by local, regional, national and international organizations.

The Path to the Profession: John M. Carethers, M.D.

Dr. John M. Carethers, recently elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, in discussion with a medical studentThis year, Dr. John M. Carethers, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology, was honored with election to the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI).

ASCI membership is granted to a select number of physician-scientists who have made extraordinary contributions in patient care and research before the age of 45.“John epitomizes the ideals of the ASCI – academic scholarship, teaching and clinical medicine,” says Ken Kaushansky, M.D., Helen M. Ranney Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

“He is one of the true triple threats at UCSD, and all should aspire to achieve John’s high standards and accomplishments.”Dr. Carethers is a groundbreaking cancer researcher and a highly respected educator who has won teaching awards from housestaff, fellows, and the Vice Chancellor. He is the youngest division chief in the Department of Medicine.

Since he became chief in 2004, Dr. Carethers has expanded the faculty and secured several major grants, including the division’s first NIH Center grant for a Digestive Diseases Research Development Center.

In a recent interview, he looked back to his earliest steps on the path to this fruitful career, and to the upbringing that set him in this direction.

“My parents believed in education”

John M. Carethers was raised in Detroit, third youngest of 12 children.

“My parents believed in education, and they sacrificed a lot to get us educated,” he says. “They took care of us down to their last penny.”

His father, the only African-American student in his college, graduated in 1948 with a degree in mechanical engineering. At the time, companies in Detroit did not hire African-American engineers. He took a job with the Detroit Water and Sewage Department and worked his way up through the ranks.

On a modest income, John’s parents devoted themselves to providing the structure and the opportunities that best suited each of the children, one of whom was disabled.

“We were all different,” he says. “Different personalities, different strengths.”

All of John’s siblings attended parochial school and adhered to a schedule during their hours at home. Television was reserved for weekends. There were dedicated time periods for homework and for play.

As a child, he knew he wanted to be a doctor.

It Started with an Encyclopedia

Asked when he first became interested in medicine, Dr. Carethers says promptly, “Age 7.”

This was when his parents purchased the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The new books came with a requirement for summer projects: each child must make a weekly presentation on a topic of his or her choice at the Sunday afternoon meal.

Finding himself with the “A” volume, John discovered the section that depicted the human body. He remembers the wonder he experienced as he studied the colored overlays that superimposed muscles over organs over bones.

“Anatomy,” he says, smiling broadly. “Physiology. That was it. I knew I wanted to be a doctor.”

On summer Sundays, at the family table, the children gave their presentations. One of his brothers discussed flags; a sister talked about other cultures. John Carethers, age 7, presented the organ systems of the body.

He went to parochial school until high school, when he transferred to a magnet public high school in Detroit. There, he took college preparatory courses in physics, biology, and organic and inorganic chemistry.

In his college job as a unit clerk at Detroit Children’s Hospital, he had
his first chance to see medicine from the inside.

He covered several paper routes and he tirelessly cultivated a neighborhood clientele for his lawn mowing and snow shoveling services. When he started college, he had saved three thousand dollars.

For the first two years of college, per the family rule, he took public transportation and worked his way through his college courses. Then he purchased a car – for cash.

Although he was certain he wanted to become a doctor, he couldn’t imagine himself as a physician in practice. He had never seen what that life, and the path to it, was like.

First glimpse of medical practice

Then he took a job as a unit clerk at Children’s Hospital in Detroit during college.

“For three and a half years,” he says, “I published the OR schedule, made sure the operating doctors had privileges, and recorded the post-anesthesia charts in the computer. I met pediatric surgeons and I got to watch surgeries.”

It was his first inside look at medical practice, and it equipped him to envision his own future.

Although he considered becoming a pediatric surgeon,
“the real diagnosticians are the internists.
That was what interested me.”

Initially, he thought he would become a pediatric surgeon himself. When it came time for his third-year surgery rotation in medical school, however, one of his younger brothers came home with chicken pox and infected the others.

That and a postviral syndrome kept Dr. Carethers from immersing in his surgery rotation as he might have done. He did well in it, but by the time the rotation ended, his interest had expanded to other areas of medical practice.

“I thought about it,” he said, “and I felt the real diagnosticians are the internists. That was what interested me.”

During his residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, he determined that he would specialize in gastroenterology. He completed his fellowship training in gastroenterology at the University of Michigan Hospitals and joined the UC San Diego faculty in 1995.

Contributions in cancer research and policy

In the last 10 years, Dr. Carethers and his collaborators have made major discoveries in colon cancer. One of their most significant findings is that patients whose tumors have lost the capacity for DNA mismatch repair are resistant to chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil, a common anticancer drug. Three other independent research groups have confirmed these findings.

Dr. Carethers and his coworkers demonstrated that this defect is present in 20% of people who have sporadic colon cancer, and in all families who have the hereditary colon cancer that is known as Lynch syndrome.

As a member of an NIDDK commission,
he helps to set national funding priorities for gastroenterology research.

Dr. Carethers is one of 16 appointed members of the National Commission on Digestive Diseases, which was proposed by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and formed by the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2005. The mission of the NCDD is to assess the state of GI research and map out a 10-year plan to accomplish the most promising and pressing research goals.

The Commission advises the NIH Director and Congress, and thus exerts a direct influence on the allocation of federal research funding for GI research projects.

“No one has examined this for 20-30 years,” Dr. Carethers says. The Commission’s next report is due out this summer.

He also holds a two-year position as Vice Chair of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Section of the AGA. In this capacity, he reviews abstracts submitted for the annual AGA meeting. UC San Diego will serve as a host institution as this year’s AGA meeting, known as Digestive Disease Week 2008, convenes in San Diego.

Inspiring and supporting students and trainees

Today, creating ways to inspire young, motivated students is a priority for Dr. Carethers. This has inspired him to work in support of the Preuss School, UC San Diego’s charter middle and high school.

“There are students in the Preuss School who might never have gone to college if they had gone to local schools. But they come to Preuss and see that things could be different. They’re exposed to things they never knew existed.

“We have Preuss students go on to UCSD, Harvard, and other universities,” he says. “I think that’s fantastic.”

“Some people, if they’re given an opportunity, will take the ball and run with it.”

Supporting his gastroenterology students and faculty members in their development is important to him as well. He is proud of the training grant that provides protected time for Gastroenterology trainees to do research; he is delighted that the grant has just won a 5-year renewal.

“That’s how I came along,” he said. “I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t had that time to develop.”

He has also established a permanent GI Division Research and Junior Faculty Development Committee to school senior fellows and junior faculty in the UC San Diego promotion process.

“It’s designed to help them navigate the academic process more smoothly,” he says. “No one tells you this stuff.”

In 2006, he received the UC San Diego School of Medicine Vice Chancellor’s Award for Mentoring Excellence.

He speaks warmly of his own mentor, C. Richard Boland, who was Chief of Gastroenterology from 1995 to 2003. Dr. Boland is now at Baylor in Dallas.

“He’s my mentor and friend for life,” he says.

“Through education, we had opportunities”

Dr. Carethers recalls the efforts of his parents, whose values carry on in him and in his siblings.

“Through education, we had opportunities,” he says. “If someone never has the opportunity, they have no idea what they’re missing. Some people never achieve because they never got the opportunity.

“But some people, if they’re given an opportunity, will take the ball and run with it.”

Today, 11 of the 12 Carethers children are college graduates. Among them, they have 21 college degrees.

More Information