KUMC alumni serving the world

August 01, 2013

This week I'd like to tell you about another one of my more enjoyable activities as Executive Vice Chancellor. In June, I was privileged to attend an event in Rochester, Minn., honoring Dr. Richard Weinshilboum. The event was attended by more than 25 other talented KU School of Medicine alumni who practice in Minnesota.

Dr. Weinshilboum is a native of El Dorado, Kan., and a KU and KU School of Medicine alumnus. He currently serves as the Mary Lou and John H Dasburg Professor for Cancer Genomics Research, Chair of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and a professor of molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics and medicine at the Mayo Clinic. He has been on the Mayo faculty for more than 40 years.

Dr. Weinshilboum is considered one of the world's pioneers in pharmacogenomics, which is the study of how genetic makeup affects an individual's response to drugs. Among other things, his research is trying to solve the riddles of why some children with childhood leukemia develop life-threatening adverse drugs reactions and why women with breast cancer experience drug-related toxicity or fail to respond to therapy.

It's a source of great pride - but no surprise - that one of our alumni is engaged in such important work. It was wonderful to attend the celebration of Dr. Weinshilboum's career. The experience reminded me once again that graduates of the KU Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions are among the most accomplished health care professionals in the world.

A significant percentage of our graduates go on to practice in the state of Kansas - and many are choosing to work in rural and underserved areas of our state. But at the same time, many of our alumni - like Dr. Weinshilboum - end up providing excellent health care, conducting innovative research and teaching the health care professionals of tomorrow all over the world.

There is a great illustration of this in the new issue of KU Medical Center's magazine, Kansas Medicine + Science. In an infographic called "Where in the World is KU Medical Center," you can see that alumni from our institution are working and living in nearly every country in the world. For example, there are currently 31 School of Medicine, five School of Health Professions and one School of Nursing alumni working in Japan. In Canada, KUMC currently has 12 School of Health Professions, 10 School of Medicine and four School of Nursing graduates practicing. We have alumni all over the globe, from Argentina to Tanzania.

The illustration also shows that there are KUMC alumni working and/or living in every state of the United States, led by the 4,848 School of Medicine graduates, the 3,935 School of Health Professions graduates and the 3,386 School of Nursing graduates residing in Kansas right now.

It is quite mind-boggling when you consider all the amazing things our alumni are accomplishing both close to home and around the world.

And we look forward to Dr. Weinshilboum's return to our campus, where he will be among the honorees at this year's KU Medical Center Alumni Reunion weekend on Oct. 4-5. He is being given the 2013 Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award at this year's event. The other award winners this year include Roy Jensen (Honorary Medical Alumnus); Ted Burns (Early Career Achievement in Medicine Alumnus); Monica Scheibmeir (Distinguished Nursing Alumna); Janet Pierce (Honorary Nursing Alumna); Jill Peltzer (Early Career Achievement in Nursing Alumna); Kathleen Davis (Distinguished Health Professions Alumna); Debra Sullivan (Honorary Health Professions Alumna); and Sandra Billinger (Early Career Achievement in Health Professions Alumna).

You can learn more about all the Alumni Reunion activities at our Alumni and Community Relations website. Hope to see many of you there!

Last modified: Aug 01, 2013