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School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

June 2008 Archives

June 30, 2008

Announcing the Dean’s Blog

One of the best things about being Dean is that I get to learn of the accomplishments – both big and small – of our students, faculty and alumni. These bragging points don’t always make the headlines and may go unnoticed by many in our community. But in this blog I’ll bring them to your attention so that you can applaud with me the creativity, compassion and contributions that our colleagues demonstrate every day.

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After the School of Medicine’s convocation ceremony, Georgia Ferrell stopped for a quick picture with me. Georgia spent a year working with me and OB/GYN Associate Professor Catherine Matthews on the genetics of pelvic organ prolapse. She has just started her residency in OB/GYN at Vanderbilt with her husband, Benjamin, a fellow M’08, who is training in Internal Medicine.

In future postings, I will also share updates and announcements that affect our school. I may even occasionally comment on health-related issues in the news. But for this first entry, I’m wondering if you’ve heard about the déjà vu that the Department of Pathology is experiencing?

The American Society of Cytopathology has recently announced its highest award will go this fall to Dr. Celeste Powers. The award bears the name of George Papanicolaou, the father of cytology, who you may remember as the originator of the Pap test that has proven to be one of our most effective screening tests for cervical cancer and for saving women’s lives.

This may sound familiar to those who’ve been on campus a while. Precisely 25 years ago, Dr. William Frable was honored in the same way by the ASC. I am aware of only two other institutions who can claim a pair of Papanicolaou Award winners: Johns Hopkins and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

This outstanding accomplishment is a testament to the tradition of excellence in cytopathology that was established by Dr. Saul Kay, who was recruited to the medical center in 1950 and was one of the first area pathologists to encourage cervical cancer screening. He led the Division of Surgical Pathology for three decades and, along the way, trained Dr. Frable, who in turn trained Dr. Powers. Both of these trainees would go on to be named to the presidency of the ASC. They even wrote a book together, the authoritative text on fine-needle aspiration of the head and neck, published by Butterworth-Heinermann in 1996.

Apparently, Dr. Frable made an unwise bet with Dr. Powers as she was completing her fellowship here in Surgical and Cytopathology in 1990. He wondered whether she could follow his path to the ACS presidency and the Papanicolaou Award within 25 years. He owes her a bottle of champagne.

Cheers!