The Inaugural Award, established by the WIMS Diversity Committee, was presented posthumously to Dr. Thomas, accepted by her husband and family, at the August 20, 2015 Annual Awards Dinner.
A one-line personal mission statement accompanying her professional resume neatly characterized Patricia Thomas' caring attitude and lifelong ambition: "I will inspire and empower others, and myself, to make a real difference in the world we share."
Dr. Thomas was guided by this commitment since her earliest days in her hometown of Leavenworth, KS, where she and her four siblings were raised. She felt her calling was as a physician, so she began her medical training, eventually earning her M.D. from New York University Medical Center.
Dr. Thomas was a nationally known expert on pathology and cytopathology, with special interest and training in fine needle aspiration and breast pathology. Her research focused on early detection of benign breast lesions that might predict a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, as well as any racial or ethnic variations in breast cancer survival.
Nominated as a Local Legend of Medicine by Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS-3), Patricia chaired the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Kansas and served as the Associate Dean for KUMC's Office of Cultural Enhancement and Diversity (OCED). In this capacity, she strived to foster diversity. Under her direction, the office addressed issues relating to the art, science, learning and "humanness" of medicine.
Patricia also directed the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in Medicine and the Minority Resource Center at KUMC. As a respected teacher and campus leader, she co-directed an initiative to increase the number of underrepresented students in health professions. Thanks to her efforts, the School of Medicine received a $5.5 million endowment grant from the National Institutes of Health National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities for merit-based scholarships to minority students in the Greater Kansas City area.
A prolific researcher, Dr. Thomas published more than 110 articles and abstracts and made numerous presentations. Recipient of the University of Kansas Student Voice Award for Excellence in Teaching (2002-2003), she received many other awards and citations honoring her and her work. "Medicine is the perfect combination of the things I like to do: study science, make a difference and make decisions that help people," she said. "The most important thing to me though, is my family. That I can have a family and be a doctor is what inspires me."
|The Dr. Patricia Thomas Scholarship was created by her family to help students in perpetuity and support the lifelong dream and mission of Dr. Thomas. To honor Dr. Thomas' legacy, please consider donating to WIMS in her honor, or to her scholarship fund.|