Friday, October 23, 2009

The Power of Women

October 23, 2009: Mary Elizabeth Garrett

Yesterday I had the pleasure of touring The Anne and Michael Armstrong Medical Education Building, the new home of medical student education at Johns Hopkins. The building is beautiful: a glass atrium, center staircase, digital classrooms and an advanced anatomy lab to usher in a new era of medical education. The expansive halls exhibit portraits of Hopkins Nobel prize winners, men and women who made medical history and outstanding donors of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

A life-size copy of John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Mary Elizabeth Garrett caught my eye. In the late 1800’s Ms. Garrett, a strong advocate for women and a family friend of Mr. Johns Hopkins, organized the national “Women’s Medical School Fund.” This campaign sought to raise the remaining funds necessary to open the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In the end, it was Ms. Garrett’s personal gift that achieved the campaign goal enabling the completion of the School of Medicine. The women’s gifts, however, were contingent upon a pledge that the School of Medicine would admit women and provide women the opportunity to fully participate in clinical care, academic teaching and medical research. The trustees accepted the generous gift of Ms. Garrett and others, and in 1894 the School of Medicine opened its doors with 15 men and three women in the institution’s first medical school class.

The display speaks to Ms. Garrett’s extraordinary gift as well as her personal commitment to the advancement of women. I sometimes reflect upon the satisfaction she might have had knowing about A Woman’s Journey and the Johns Hopkins’ annual women’s health conference’s dedication to educate today’s women about advances in medicine.


Monday, October 5, 2009

A Nobel Prize

Although I don’t personally know Dr. Carol Greider, this morning I awoke with a sense of pride that this Johns Hopkins scientist was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her 1984 discovery of an enzyme that is critical for our health and survival.

I am reminded that working at Johns Hopkins has afforded me the extraordinary opportunity to work with faculty members, who like Dr. Greider, make groundbreaking basic science discoveries that ultimately influence our health and wellbeing. I have learned so much from these physicians and researchers. They have furthered my understanding of medicine and science. That’s why I am so pleased that you too have an opportunity to learn from Johns Hopkins doctors.

I hope you will seize the chance to listen to 32 of these faculty members at this year’s Johns Hopkins women’s health conference, A Woman’s Journey. Hear about medical advances from pioneers in their fields. Have the opportunity to meet the physicians and ask them questions. You will learn lessons that will last a life time.

Hope to see you there,