The UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) has announced the Daniel T. O’Connor Memorial Award, which will add funding to support the top 2015 CTRI project recipient, Julie Bykowski, MD. The award was established by Dr. O’Connor’s widow, Kellie Evans-O’Connor. Read the story in the UC San Diego Clinical and Translational News & Announcements
The Department of Medicine celebrates the life and mourns the passing on August 6 of Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD, professor emeritus of medicine and inaugural chief of the Division of International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine, now the Division of Global Public Health.
An influential leader in the field of international health and health policy, Simon was a founding father of the UCSD School of Medicine. He was recruited to the school in 1966 and served as its first dean of admissions, education and student affairs.
He wove global health training into the curriculum, designing community-based and international programs for students. Among these were courses in Spanish and cross-cultural issues that were the first of their kind in the nation.
Nationally and internationally, Simon advanced global health training and cultural awareness in medicine. His many achievements included the establishment of the Division of International Health for the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. With particular concern for small, isolated countries, he advised developing nations as they established medical education and health care delivery systems.
In 2001, the Harold J. Simon Chair In International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine was established in his honor at UCSD.
Quoted in a UCSD press release at that time, Simon said, “I think it is necessary for all students to realize that there are significant differences in disease incidence and prevalence, in the way health care is delivered, and how concepts of health and illness are viewed by diverse cultures throughout the world. Medicine doesn’t recognize any geographic or national borders.
“In a world where the inequalities of health are grotesque; where for many millions of people health is absent throughout life; where nevertheless every individual has the right to the enjoyment of health, are we as doctors content to leave things as they are?”
The Harold J. Simon Chair In International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine is now held by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health.
Quoted in a La Jolla Patch memorial story about Simon last week, Strathdee said, “He will be remembered by our division as its founder and tireless mentor, and by his students the world over as their inspiration to a career in global health.
“For me personally,” she said, “I have lost a treasured friend.”
Press release: UCSD Chair in International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine Named For Harold J. Simon, M.D., Ph.D. UCSD School of Medicine News, Health Sciences Communications press release, February 8, 2001. | Read the story
Video interview: Harold Simon, Founding Father at UC San Diego School of Medicine. UCSD Medical Center video posted February 2, 2012. | Watch video
Interview: Dr. Harold Simon of La Jolla reviews his legacy in medicine at UCSD. La Jolla Light interview posted on February 28, 2012. | Read interview
Memorial story: Harold Simon, Founding Member of UCSD School of Medicine, Dies at 85. La Jolla Patch story, posted on August 15, 2013. | Read story
Memorial story: First Dean of Admissions at UCSD’s School of Medicine. San Diego Union-Tribune, posted August 18, 2013. | Read story
From Kenneth Kaushansky, MD
Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Medicine
It is with a very heavy heart that I write to report the Department of Medicine, the School of Medicine, the University and the entire San Diego community have lost a great friend and leader. Dr. Helen Ranney, research and clinical hematologist extraordinaire, pioneering Chair of Medicine and professional society president, and soaring intellect has passed away last night, just a week before her 90th birthday.
Helen was born and raised on a dairy farm in upstate New York, to parents who stimulated her to seek a professional career. While setting out on pre-law studies at Barnard College, she soon found she liked “working with people” and “fixing what you studied,” redirecting her efforts towards pre-medical studies. While initially declined admission to medical school, Helen sought out research training, and was then admitted to Columbia School of Medicine, eventually studying hematology under the direction of Dr. Irving London.
In 1953, Helen determined a method to separate normal from abnormal hemoglobin and used this to identify mixed hemoglobins in the relatives of children with sickle cell anemia, laying the foundation for the genetic basis of this and other “hemoglobinopathies.” For this and other work, Helen was awarded the Martin Luther King Medical Achievement Award soon after the great civil rights leader’s death.
Helen’s work next took her to the faculty of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and then the State University of New York in Buffalo. 1973 was a good year for San Diego, and a good year for Helen; in that year Helen was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and was recruited to UC San Diego, to serve as the first female Chair of a University Department of Medicine.
During her tenure at UC San Diego, Helen led the Department to scientific and clinical excellence. She also played an important role on the national academic stage, serving as President of the American Society of Hematology, and as the first female president of the prestigious Association of American Physicians.
Helen then served as the first female “Distinguished Physician” of the Veterans Affairs medical centers, and upon her retirement, the Helen M. Ranney Chair was established, the first Endowed Chair at UC San Diego named after a female professor.
Helen’s career was marked by her intelligent approach to both clinical and research issues, her ability to achieve and inspire greatness, and her incredible wit. It is my great honor and privilege to serve as the Helen M. Ranney Professor, arguably the very best “perk” available to the Chair of our Department!
Everyone has a favorite Helen story, and I am no exception. It occurred soon after my arrival as the fourth Chair of the Department. Then Dean Dr. Edward Holmes held a reception, thanking Dr. Roger Spragg for his recent service as Interim Chair, and welcoming me to my new post. Soon after arriving in San Diego, while moving into our new house, I fell from a ladder and broke my arm, the cast drying just in time for Ed’s reception. Needless to say, a fresh coat of plaster on the new Chair called for an explanation.
By now I was surrounded by Deans, Vice Deans, Vice and Associate Chancellors, Chairs, a plethora of other leaders, and Helen, telling my story: “…as soon as I fell, the arm was clearly misshapen, but for some reason, it didn’t seem to hurt…. then Lauren brought me to the Hillcrest Hospital emergency room, and by holding the arm, it didn’t hurt…..then the orthopedic surgeon came down to the emergency room, and gave me Brevitol to reduce the fracture, and it didn’t hurt…” whereupon Helen declared, “Oh, it must be Tabes Dorsalis (a neurological deterioration that blocks painful stimuli, due to advanced syphilis)!”
Helen M. Ranney has served as a role model for countless women and men of medicine and science, all attempting to emulate her warmth, teaching style, inquisitiveness and impact on her field. She inspired many to take on the great responsibility of leadership and to carry on the tradition of innovation in medicine that is the UC San Diego Department of Medicine. I’ll always remember her as an intelligent and inventive mover and shaker in American academic medicine. Truly, thank you, Helen!
Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP
Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Medicine
Photo of Dr. Ranney, above, from the National Library of Medicine.