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Alumnus makes gift of instructional websites to School of Medicine

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2016 - Winter


More than 50 years ago Alfonso Esguerra, M.D. ’64, HS ’66, FW ’69, came to Yale to begin a lifelong experience in what he calls responsible self-learning. In April, he returned to Yale from his hometown of Bogotá, Colombia, to extend that experience to young medical students, residents, and fellows. With his wife Gloria and friend and colleague Juan Pablo Uribe, M.D., Esguerra was in New Haven for a ceremony marking a gift to the School of Medicine—a website he created for training in pulmonary imaging.

His day at the School of Medicine brought together others linked to medicine and the South American country. Bernardo Lombo, M.D., a clinician in medicine (cardiology), organized the day’s event, with help from his wife, Pilar. Both worked at the Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá, (FSFB), which Esguerra co-founded in 1972. The foundation opened a hospital in 1983 and in 2007 launched the Center for Interactive Digital Education in Radiology (CIDER), which produced the pulmonary imaging website. Last month the site ( had 42,030 visitors.

The day’s events began in a conference room in the Dana Building, where Lombo walked an audience of physicians through the pulmonary website, which features a monthly “Case of the Month” and “Show and Tell” sections, as well as multiple tutorials designed by Esguerra. The goal is to provide interactive training in pulmonary imaging for students, residents, and fellows. A companion website, geared toward cardiology, including cardiology imaging, will be designed at Yale under the supervision of Lombo, who will serve as editor-in-chief of both websites.

From the Dana building, the group went to the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library for a ceremony signing over the pulmonary website to the School of Medicine. In his remarks, Esguerra said that “the website design stimulates visitors to acquire knowledge in a responsible, self-learning fashion.” A “why not?” attitude and the value of responsible self-learning were two of the three main principles the Yale System of medical education ingrained in him, he said. “The third principle … is difficult to define succinctly. I finally understood it in all its meaning, when I read the answer Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. gave a reporter during an interview on his 90th birthday. ‘Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age, I discovered I was not God.’ There is no doubt that the greatest contribution the Yale System of medical education has made to the emotional makeup of its students is to have us realize that, regardless of our future achievements, we should always be human persons, and never ‘physician-gods.’ ”

After the remarks, Esguerra and Uribe, the CEO of the FSFB, joined Cynthia Walker, deputy dean for finance and administration, for the signing of the documents awarding the gift of the pulmonary website to the School of Medicine.

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