A changing of the guard

Outgoing AYAM President Harold Bornstein reflects on his two years in office, the association’s new leadership, and the bright future of the School of Medicine.

Also in this issue:

  • Reunion brings more than 300 alumni and friends to campus
  • A gathering in Chicago
  • Frank Bia, M.D., shares insight to graduates at Commencement

Dear Fellow Alumni,

As we conclude the 2010-2011 academic year and I conclude my term as AYAM president, I write with mixed emotions. I am proud of our collective accomplishments, grateful for the support of alumni volunteers and professional staff, awed by the growth and progress of our School, and deeply encouraged by those who represent the future of our profession. Above all, I am honored to have served as your alumni president during this time in our School and profession’s history.

On a personal level, I was accustomed to managing a solo practice with one administrative assistant, and as AYAM president I shifted into an organization with dozens of loyal volunteers and access to Yale’s team of alumni relations professionals. I was moving from a world of self-reliance to an environment where effective teamwork would be the difference between success and failure.

My lesson began quickly, when then-Director of Alumni Affairs Mary Meehan retired, but other staff stepped in to carry the load, and with alumni input, recruited and hired Debby Jagielow, who has proven to be an outstanding director of alumni affairs. At the same time, we were creating alumni task forces that would assume a strong voice in reunion planning and would influence elements of Yale’s strategic plan for medical education. We collaborated with our colleagues in the school’s Office of Institutional Planning and Communications to create a Yale Medicine advisory board, and we initiated the electronic newsletter you are now reading. We also played a role in the school’s bicentennial by inaugurating a new tradition of welcoming entering students with alumni-funded stethoscopes.

While these accomplishments and activities bring a sense of satisfaction, my greatest joy came through new and stronger personal relationships. For 30 years, I have witnessed the dedication and loyalty of our alumni board and class representatives, and their commitment remained steadfast. I greatly enjoyed my many interactions with Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., Deputy Dean for Education Richard Belitsky, M.D., and other members of the faculty. I marvel at our alma mater’s extraordinary renewal under their watch. But my greatest inspiration comes from the students. I have seen first-hand their good work at HAVEN Free Clinic, discussed their experiences learning medicine in underserved countries, attended Student Research Day, and watched their joy at the White Coat Ceremony, Match Day, and Commencement.

In retrospect, it seems that my personal story is emblematic of medicine in general. We are moving from an era of self-reliance and solo practice to a health care system based on teamwork and collegiality. I believe more than ever that the future of medicine may be uncertain, but it is not grim. Yale medical alumni are leaders who remain committed to the core values of compassionate care and continuous learning, and today’s students are eager to do the same. I am confident that our future is bright.

Reunion 2011 AYAM Leaders

And as for our immediate future, I am thrilled that Christine Walsh, M.D. ’73, has become president of the AYAM, and that she will be supported by vice president Susan Ryu Gaynon, M.D. ’76, and secretary Harold Mancusi-Ungaro, Jr., M.D. ’73. Despite having a full schedule as director of the Outpatient Pediatric Dysrhythmia Center at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Dr. Walsh has made time to serve the AYAM for more than a decade. I have found her enthusiasm refreshing, and her insight both thoughtful and relevant. I know that she and our friends in the Alumni Office have already begun to discuss ways to create and implement alumni programs that will serve and enhance the School’s educational, research and clinical missions—and I wish us all great success.

Reunion 2011 Alumni Panel

Good weather, good food, and good company

Our annual reunion in June was blessed with sunny weather as more than 300 alumni and friends returned to the medical school campus to reconnect with one another and with Yale. Alumni toured the medical campus, Smilow Cancer Hospital, and the Cushing Center. 

On Friday afternoon, in a discussion moderated by Associate Dean for Student Affairs Nancy Angoff, M.P.H. ’81, M.D. ’90, four alumni described their off-the-beaten-path career trajectories. Frank Top, M.D. ’61, went from directing the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to become the founding executive vice president of MedImmune Inc. Lisa Sanders, M.D. ’96, a clinical educator in the Yale Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Program, returned to her roots in journalism to become a columnist for The New York Times Magazine, and technical advisor for the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning TV show House. Tricia Gibbs, M.D. ’87, a former member of the United States Ski Team, and Richard Gibbs, M.D. ’86, a former professional ballet dancer, met at medical school and went on to found the San Francisco Free Clinic and become leaders in the emerging free-clinic movement.

At Saturday’s scientific symposium Haifan Lin, Ph.D., director of the Yale Stem Cell Center, described advances in the use of adult stem cells, and Christopher Breuer, M.D., associate professor of surgery, described his research with pediatric tissue-engineered grafts.

Also on Saturday, we heard from Dean Alpern, who gave us an update on our alma mater. Among the topics he covered were facilities, faculty recruitment, strategic planning for medical education, financial aid, new research and teaching facilities, international collaborations, the medical school’s strong relationship with Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the growing clinical practice. The AYAM presented our Distinguished Alumni Service Awards to Warren Widmann, M.D. ’61, and Irwin Braverman, M.D. ’55. 

Good food and good conversation were enjoyed by all over class dinners at area restaurants or local homes, including the inaugural Samuel D. Kushlan, M.D. ’35, Society Dinner for graduates who have passed their 50th reunion mark.

Thomas J. Lynch, M.D. '86

A gathering in Chicago

Alumni also gathered in Chicago this month at an event co-sponsored with the Yale Club of Chicago. Thomas J. Lynch Jr., M.D. ’86, director of Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital, described how Yale is uniquely poised to make a significant impact on the nation’s battle with cancer—and on the families struggling to come to terms with a cancer diagnosis—with innovations in biology, in therapies, and in comprehensive, compassionate care. More co-sponsored events with local Yale clubs are in the works to bring Yale School of Medicine faculty to our alumni in their hometowns—watch your mailbox and our alumni events calendar on https://medicine.yale.edu/alumni for upcoming events.

Frank J. Bia, M.D.

A message at Commencement

It was inspiring to hear a longtime faculty member at Yale, Frank J. Bia, professor emeritus of internal medicine, return to give this year’s Commencement address. Dr. Bia first came to Yale in the 1970s as a fellow in infectious diseases and remained until 2008, when he left to become medical director of AmeriCares. This year’s graduating class, the Class of 2011, was the last group of students Dr. Bia taught in the classroom and at the bedside during his tenure at Yale. In his address, he offered an interesting perspective on the virtue of selfishness in medical service. The altruistic model of medicine as a social contract that subsumes a doctor’s needs to those of his/her patients is flawed and irrational, he told the students. Good work and service, he said, come from a selfish place—a place where selfishness becomes a virtue when your own happiness is tied to service. … If good works are done solely at the request, or even the mandate of others, you will not be happy—not as happy as you deserve to be.”

Farewell and thank you

It has indeed been a good and full two years. As you can see, our alma mater prospers, and your alumni association is poised for continued success into the School of Medicine’s third century. In keeping with the times, School of Medicine has launched a Facebook page. “Like” us at www.facebook.com/YaleMed for ongoing news of the school and alumni events. Thank you for your continued loyalty.


Harold D. Bornstein, M.D. ’53, HS ’56
President, AYAM

This bulletin is distributed electronically, via email and the web, to graduates of the School of Medicine. If you did not receive this email directly, we invite you to update your contact information at https://medicine.yale.edu/alumni/ayam/update.aspx