Werner Ascoli, MD, ’55, MPH Alumnus of the Year 2000
Born on a coffee plantation in Guatemala, Werner F. Ascoli, MD ’55, saw young families endure severe illnesses and suffering brought about by abject poverty. He witnessed the lives of some of his friends cut short because of poor medical conditions in his homeland. As a youth, he was frustrated that more could not be done to protect the health of his neighbors. He vowed then to one day become a physician and bring about change in some small measure in the land he loved. For his leadership in public health, Dr. Ascoli is named Temple University School of Medicine’s Alumnus of the Year 2000. “In the 1950s especially, it was very difficult for foreigners to gain admission to a medical school in the United States,” Dr. Ascoli remembered. “The reputation of U.S. medicine was great. I was accepted finally to three: Yale, Temple and Duke.” His love of classical music and especially the renown of the Philadelphia Orchestra, then conducted by Eugene Ormandy, brought him to Broad Street and Temple. “Within two weeks of my arrival in Philadelphia, I was invited to a dinner party at the home of Dr. Polk, a pediatrician in Bryn Mawr. There, I met Eugene Ormandy. Shortly after, at a dinner in Germantown, I met a pianist, Dorothy, who was studying at Temple’s School of Music. Dorothy and I married three years later.” Not too much further into his studies at Temple’s School of Medicine, Dr. Ascoli met and mentored with Dr. Richard Kern, then head of Temple’s Department of Medicine. “Dr. Kern spoke Spanish, and had been to Guatemala several times. He and I became good friends. With him, I was able to discuss my interest in public health and tropical medicine. He encouraged me to go home and make a difference.” And so he did. Dr. Ascoli spent fifty years of public service in Guatemala, as Field Chief, Division of Nutrition, Guatemala Public Health Service and Chief, Division of Applied Nutrition for the Institute of Nutrition for Central America and Panama. He traveled the world as an invited lecturer on public health, nutritional diseases and deficiencies, as well as on screening methods and preventive programs for diseases in agricultural workers. He has served as consultant to the World Health Organization on applied nutrition programs throughout the western hemisphere, India, Japan and Thailand.
“With the advent of vaccinations in children and the use of antibiotics especially, not just medicine but also the health of Guatemalans has improved measurably in my 45 years here,” Dr. Ascoli said. “Death rates and infant mortality rates are half of what they used to be. I have had a part in the improvements. Many people took me as an example, and some have followed my footsteps, although not as many as I would have liked.” Dr. Ascoli and his wife, Dorothy, continue to live in Guatemala, although Dr. Ascoli retired from active practice in 1995. He still enjoys traveling throughout his country, visiting farms and factories, to see how former patients are faring. He spends his spare time reading, as well as writing his memoirs. The Ascolis visit the States often to visit their three daughters (two of whom are physicians, and each is married to a physician). Dorothy, Dr. Ascoli proudly notes, founded a school in their town, where she continues to teach. “To lead by example, and hope others follow, is a great honor,” said Dr. Ascoli. “I am most pleased that Temple gave me the foundation and the knowledge so that I could have the opportunity to be a part of improvements in the lives of so many.”
Charles D. Tourtellotte, MD, ‘57 “Honored Professor Award”
As a young man, Charles D. Tourtellotte, MD, ’57, dreamed of a career as a biochemist. At Temple, Dr. Tourtellotte melded his interest in biochemical research with an application to medicine, and has witnessed advances in biochemical treatment of rheumatic disease – to the point now that some of his patients are seeing “dramatic” improvement where there was once little hope of sufficient treatment, let alone cure. “Early in my career, not many physicians were choosing rheumatology as a specialty because treatment modalities were few,” Dr. Tourtellote recalled. “With the discovery of cortisone and its clinical application to arthritis, there was an upsurge, particularly due to the dramatic effect cortisone had on patients. Again, the excitement waned until very recently, with additional knowledge of immunology and immune processes and the emergence of new treatments. Now, as I near retirement, there are cellular inflammatory mediators that have, in many cases, made patients very much better.” Dr. Tourtellotte credits his continuing interest in biochemistry and rheumatology to a professor named Robert Baldridge, MD. “He took me under his wing, and encouraged my interest and Masters degree in biochemistry, which I received along with my medical degree,” Dr. Tourtellotte remembered. “Dr. Baldridge was relatively new then to Temple, having just arrived from the University of Michigan – where I later went for my residency.” “Temple Medicine’s teaching characteristic is nurturing, where professors take a real interest in the younger generation,” he said. It set an example for Dr. Tourtellotte as a professor and mentor, one who encouraged research along with patient care as integral components of a student’s education. Dr. Tourtellotte figures he has taught some 40 fellows in rheumatology over his years at Temple, and most have gone on to be leaders, “chiefs and chairmen,” of rheumatology sections at many of the area’s hospitals. For 33 years (1966-1998), Dr. Tourtellotte served as Temple’s Chief of Rheumatology, all the while providing professional leadership to such groups of the Philadelphia Rheumatism Society, the Philadelphia County Medical Society, the Arthritis
Foundation, and as a founding member of the Greater Delaware Valley Arthritis Control Program. He served as Assistant (1965-67), Associate (1967-72) and full Professor of Medicine (1972-1998) at Temple’s School of Medicine, as well as Attending Rheumatologist, Chief of the Arthritis Clinic, and Director of the Pediatric Rheumatology Center at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children from 1985 to 1998. In addition, he served Temple University and its Medical School well: in 1984-86, he was President of the Medical Staff and was a member of the Hospital Board of Governors. He was President of the Faculty Senate for the School of Medicine from 1971 to 1972, and President of the Medical Alumni Association for four years, 19961999. Dr. Tourtellotte has been honored on numerous occasions by the Arthritis Foundation, the American College of Physicians, and the American Medical Association. Dr. Tourtellotte looks forward to his retirement by June 30, 2000, his “start date for a new career” – sports fishing. He recently bought a bigger boat, a twenty-eight foot beauty that can carry him to the “canyon” in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Beach Haven, NJ. There, he hopes to land his share of swordfish, marlin, dolphin and tuna, tossing back most of his catch to foster breeding, and ensuring more sport for another day.
E. Howard Bedrossian, MD Medical Alumni Service Award
As a second-year medical student, E. Howard Bedrossian, MD ’45, received an intimate education from Temple on handling peritonitis. Over the Christmas holidays that year, his own appendix ruptured and because “this was well before the days of antibiotics,” his life hung in the balance for a long two weeks. “I owe my life to Temple,” he reminisced, “so the least I can do is give back to it through alumni service.” So with his brother, Robert Bedrossian, MD ’47, the Drs. Bedrossian recently established The Bedrossian Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology – the first chair to be fully-funded by medical school alumni. The Bedrossian Chair has been established to continue the improvement of teaching and the development of clinical criteria in the field of ophthalmology, and to maintain an approved residency program in ophthalmology. It is anticipated that the recipient of the endowment will be announced next year, during the School’s centennial, and in a year straddling the two brothers’ 55th year reunions. “My brother and I first established the Bedrossian Scholarship and Loan Fund, in memory of our father, to provide a stipend or loan to motivated juniors or seniors in Temple’s Medical School. It was not only the right thing to do in terms of allegiance, but is designed to set a good example for others,” he said. Dr. Bedrossian is the middle of three generations of ophthalmologists who in 1999 celebrated 75 years of vision care from the same office on State Road in Drexel Hill. His father, Edward Hagop Bedrossian, MD, (a Penn alumnus) opened the office in 1924; in 1978, Dr. Bedrossian had the privilege of awarding a diploma from Temple University’s School of Medicine to his son, Edward H. Bedrossian, Jr., MD. Dr. Bedrossian’s brother practices ophthalmology in Vancouver, WA. In addition to his private practice, Dr. Bedrossian has served as a clinical professor of ophthalmology at Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine and for 25 years, as a clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania. He was also director of the department of ophthalmology at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, an attending surgeon at Wills Eye Hospital, associate ophthalmologist at Graduate Hospital, and an attending ophthalmologist at Riddle Memorial Hospital.
“I was always very proud of my Temple Med education,” Dr. Bedrossian said. “This was affirmed several times. First, when I was in basic military training (prior to his induction in the Army Air Force), I was among two or three hundred others being tested on clinical pathology protocols. Guys sitting next to me from some of the Ivy League schools would miss a diagnosis on the test, but I got it right.“ “Another time, a senior medical student, relayed to me that when she was interviewing in Los Angeles for an internship, the interviewer told her that Temple has the ‘best medical school in the City of Philadelphia,’ and I agree,” Dr. Bedrossian recalled. “Temple has a reputation for choosing the professors who are the very best in teaching, offering very practical and factual lessons, to make sure students learn.” To ensure that the School’s reputation lasts well into its second century, Dr. Bedrossian remains active as a member of the Board of Directors of the Temple Medical Alumni Association – a directorship he assumed in 1974, and serving as its president for two years (1989-91). He has backed this commitment with generous gifts, supporting numerous strategic challenges of the Medical School, both programmatic and capital. For that benevolence as well as “the example” he chooses to set, Dr. Bedrossian is awarded the 2000 Medical Alumni Service Award.
Kenneth Randall Chien, MD, PhD, ’80 Alumni Achievement Award
Reflecting on his years in Temple University School of Medicine, Kenneth Randall Chien, MD, PhD, ’80 said that while in Philadelphia, he experienced a reawakening, personally and professionally. “Temple reignited my interest in science that had been extinguished during my undergraduate studies (at Harvard),” he recalled. “In my second year of (Temple) medical school, I had a particularly stimulating professor, John Farber (MD), a pathologist, who encouraged my interest in practicing science as applied to medicine. Until my very important interactions with him, I wasn’t quite sure what path I was on, but in following science, I was certainly enjoying what I was doing.” Dr. Chien’s current work as director of University of California, San Diego (UCSD)/Salk Program in Molecular Medicine is specifically focused on finding genes that cause heart disease. He is a widely respected researcher, with more than 200 publications, and having presented several dozen lectures internationally on molecular biology. He is Professor of Medicine at UCSD and a member of UCSD’s Center for Molecular Genetics. He is also co-director of UCSD’s Cardiovascular Center, and is the American Heart Association’s (California affiliate) Endowed Chair (2000) in Cardiovascular Research. “Most importantly, at Temple I learned what being an academic physician is about,” Dr. Chien said. “That is, to use everything we have, our intelligence and our compassion, to advance human health.” Dr. Chien remembered a film he saw at TUSM, one he said helped him to always “remember why we wanted to become a physician in the first place.” “The film was of a patient of Professor Larry Naiman, then an oncologist at St. Christopher’s. The film was about a boy with leukemia, a child whose disease could probably be successfully treated today. The boy was mature beyond his years, and showed him through the stages of his disease, his treatment, his remission, recurrence and eventually, his death. Near the end of his life, the boy was interviewed. He said with so much purity, if he could live, he wanted to be a doctor, so he could help kids like himself.” “Medicine today takes a certain level of commitment,” Dr. Chien concluded. “And Temple showed me that I – like so many others in my class – had what it takes to be
more than just another doctor: commitment, sincerity, authenticity, and a genuine desire to try to do the right thing. Temple was willing to explore the diversity that creates good physicians.” Dr. Chien resides in La Jolla, CA with his wife, Patricia (who was working in pathology at Temple when they met), and daughters Marisa (14) and Elena (12½). Temple’s Medical Alumni are pleased to add to Dr. Chien’s long list of honors by awarding him with an “Alumni Achievement Award.”
John W. Lachman, MD ’43 “Honored Professor Award”
In his sixty years at Temple, from his undergraduate studies begun in 1936 to his retirement from orthopedic surgery in 1996, John W. Lachman, MD ’43, has witnessed many changes. The trolley he once rode to school from his home near Ardmore north on Broad Street is now a subway, and Temple’s physical plant at the University and Hospital, blossomed. He has seen medical students assert “perhaps more independence over the years, just as department heads have become real leaders not benign dictators.” “Times and techniques have changed, but Temple’s commitment has not,” Dr. Lachman recalled. “I was always very proud that Temple was willing to look after the poor, both as students, and as patients.” Dr. Lachman remembered that he himself attended Temple University on scholarship (A.B., Chemistry, ’40), and both he and his brother Robert graduated from its School of Medicine. “Back then to get into Temple’s medical school, one had to be interviewed and accepted directly by Dean Parkinson, the boss of it all. I was lucky to get in and later to do my internship at Temple. I was pretty good in my class, so Dr. (John Royal) Moore accepted me – first as his resident and later as his partner.” “If I am to have any legacy at Temple, I would want to be known first as a good teacher,“ Dr. Lachman said. “The best part of my work at Temple was running its residency program (in orthopedics),” work Dr. Lachman undertook for 23 years (1966 to 1989), while professor and chairman of orthopaedic surgery. For ten of those years (1966-76), he also served as chief of orthopedics at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, and as an attending surgeon at Shriners Hospital for Children. A Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Lachman has received innumerable awards and citations, including the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, Temple University Hospital’s Physician of the Year Award (in 19??), Temple University School of Medicine’s Alumnus of the Year (19??), and he is this year’s recipient of the TUSM’s “Honored Professor Award.” A lifelong bachelor, Dr. Lachman retired in 1996 to Juno Beach, FL, where he now lives, at age 80, with his sister, Mary. He fills his days with golf “a few times a week,” and he enjoys reading biographies, mysteries and spy stories.
â€œI consider myself very lucky. At Temple, we were blessed with opportunity, and to teach, well, that was the best part. Quite honestly, there is nothing about my professional life I would change if I had to do it all over again.â€?
Vincent Markovchick, MD, ‘70 Alumni Achievement Award
It’s hardly a place where most young men would choose to visit on a Saturday night, but Vincent Markovchick, MD, ’70, was drawn to Temple University Hospital’s Emergency Department. “Hanging out in the ER on a Saturday night was what I liked to do most, and it is where I first got a sense that that is what I wanted to do with my medical career,” Dr. Markovchick remembered. “It wasn’t the nicest neighborhood, even then. My roommates and I shared a house just a half-block from the ER entrance. We had a little sense of security though, because of the steady stream of the police cars and ambulances that continually passed our front door.” “There isn’t a particular patient or incident that stands out, just being in the ER itself was the draw. Being able to observe and assist was such an early stimulus for me,” Dr. Markovchick reflected. “Emergency medicine wasn’t a recognized specialty back then, more than thirty years ago.” Dr. Markovchick honed his interest during his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Chicago (1974-76), and has been actively promoting the specialty ever since. “I almost chose orthopedics, because Dr. (John) Lachman was such an impressive teacher,” he said. “While all the teachers were terrific, Dr. Lachman stands out as taking an incredible amount of time and patience to ensure that we were given the best clinical education that could be offered anywhere.” But the draw of those Saturday nights in the ER was overwhelming. Now, Dr. Markovchick heads the department of emergency medicine for Denver (Colorado) Health Medical Center, the city and county’s principal provider of trauma services. He also serves as medical director for the Denver Fire Department, and heads the medical efforts for the 9-1-1- paramedics, basic EMTs, as well as all ambulance response. He is associate director of Denver Health’s emergency medicine residency program, and is president of the American Board of Emergency Medicine. In his “spare time,” he is medical advisor to the Copper Mountain Ski Patrol, which “forces” him to ski twice a week. Dr. Markovchick is widely sought-after as a lecturer and visiting professor, offering more than 200 presentations nationally and abroad, including SUNY Brooklyn (1998), Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency (1997), and Case Western
Reserve (1990). He has written four books, including Prehospital Care Secrets (Hanley and Belfus, 1998), 13 articles, 30 book chapters and two research abstracts. “All of the hats I wear have worn the hair off my head,” Dr. Markovchick joked. Still, he finds special time for his wife, Leslie, and their three daughters, Nicole (24), Tasha (23) and Nadia (18). For all these notable achievements, Dr. Markovchick is one of TUSM’s four Alumni Achievement honorees this year.
Thomas A. Miller, MD ’70 Alumni Achievement Award
“One of the things I noted during my years at Temple was a tendency for its students to undersell themselves, to have a sort of inferiority, playing second fiddle to ‘that other medical school’ across town’,” Thomas A. Miller, MD ’70, recalled. “We hoped we would be able to accomplish great things with our Temple education.” Dr. Miller is one of four who are honored this year for their Alumni Achievements. “What I found – and I know others have found this too – when matched with others from even Harvard and Hopkins, our clinical education was every bit as good if not better,” he asserted. “My Temple education opened doors. One of my mentors at Temple was Ollie Owen (MD), then in the Endocrinology section, who was assigned to be my faculty advisor. Ollie refused to write letters of recommendation for my internship applications unless I chose institutions that were excellent, not just those that were local and what I thought were ‘good enough.’ He encouraged me to reach for the stars. His attitude was one that I was potentially capable of very great things, and he was stubborn enough to make me reach.” Dr. Miller’s reach took him to a surgery internship at the University of Chicago Hospital and a residency at the University of Michigan Hospitals. His postdoctoral studies have included a research fellowship in Gastrointestinal Physiology at the University of Texas, and to ongoing federally-funded research in the mechanisms of GI damage and repair, peptic ulcer disease and gastrocytoprotection. He is currently a professor of surgery at the St. Louis University School of Medicine. Dr. Miller is widely published, including a recent book, Modern Surgical Care: Physiologic Foundations and Clinical Applications (Quality Medical Publishers, St. Louis, MO, 1998). He serves as Associate Editor for “Surgical Gastroenterology,” and Assistant Editor for “Digestive Surgery” magazines. He has also published 102 abstracts, 135 articles, and 27 book chapters. His work has garnered Dr. Miller several awards, including the American College of Surgeons Frederick A. Coller Award for Excellence (1974), and the University of Texas Outstanding Achievement in Research Award (1992). Dr. Miller and his wife, Janet, have raised a family of four; their three sons live in Texas, and a daughter, Laurie, is a recent USC graduate living in Los Angeles.
Joseph Mirro, Jr., MD “Alumni Achievement Award”
“During my orientation to Temple Medical School,” reflected Joseph Mirro Jr., MD, ’75, “I was told that one-half of everything you will learn in medical school will be outdated or incorrect in five years, and in the future, the amount of medical knowledge will double every three years.” “I think the first part of the quote has proven correct, but the last part is a dramatic underestimate of the advances in medical science that have occurred since I graduated from Temple,” he continued. Dr. Mirro witnesses these advances almost daily from a unique vantage point as Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, as well as Director of Bone Marrow Transplantation, at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, positions he has held since 1997. In addition, Dr. Mirro is professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. Prior to his move to Tennessee, he was co-director of the Leukemia/Lymphoma Center at the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and Chief of Hematology/Oncology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Dr. Mirro has been Principal Investigator on numerous federal and foundation grants regarding bone marrow transplantation and therapeutic trials in myeloid leukemia. He has had dozens of national and international visiting professorships and invited lectureships, including presentations at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center (1992), the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (1992) and Istanbul Oncology Institute (1996). He has published 104 articles, 42 books chapters, and a book, “Parents Guide to Pediatric Cancer and Its Treatment” (Plenum Press), and he has served as a national trustee for the Leukemia Society of America. In 1975, Temple honored Dr. Mirro at graduation with its Clinical Excellence Award and the W. Emory Burnett Prize in Surgery. At this, his silver anniversary, the Medical Alumni are pleased to honor him again, this time as an Alumni Achievement Awardee.