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May 2, 2012
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Pioneering woman surgeon, best-selling author and doctor to receive honorary degrees at Commencement May 20

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Patricia J. Numann, MD, a pioneering physician, and and Abraham C. Verghese, MD, a physician and best-selling author, will speak and receive honorary degrees from the State University of New York at the 2012 Upstate Medical University Commencement Sunday, May 20. Upstate’s commencement ceremonies begin at 9 a.m.

Numann has forged a national and international reputation as a surgeon, educator and advocate for women’s health services. She was instrumental in furthering the professional advancement of women surgeons, advancing the surgical educational standards for medical students, resident and surgeons, and in advocating for and creating women’s health services. She will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

Verghese, a physician and author has become a strong advocate for the value of bedside medicine skills and physical diagnosis. His books, My Own Country, The Tennis Partner and Cutting for Stone, which have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, offer his insights into the fundamentals of bedside medicine, which he feels are essential to patient care and to the doctor/patient relationship. He will receive an honorary doctor of human letters degree. (Verghese will speak May 7 at the John H. Mulroy Civic Center as part of the Rosamund Gifford Lecture Series.)

Patricia Numann

Numann is Upstate Medical University’s Lloyd S. Rogers Professor of Surgery Emeritus, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, and a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor. She launched her career at Upstate in 1970 following her graduation from Upstate’s College of Medicine and a residency at Upstate University Hospital. At the time she was the hospital’s first female surgery intern and then became the region’s first female surgeon. Other firsts followed, including being the first woman to serve on the American Medical Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs, the first woman chair of the American Board of Surgery and founder of the Association for Women Surgeons, now numbering 3,000 members.

She has served on the education committees of four national medical societies; was the founding member of the Association for Surgical Education, conducted public and professional education for the American Cancer Society; and directed the surgical clerkship for medical students for 15 years. She developed and continues to contribute to educational modules for the American College of Surgeons that are now in use by half the surgical residents in the United States and Canada.

Numann founded and ran the Comprehensive Breast Care clinic at Upstate, making it possible for patients to receive rapid diagnoses and treatment for a range of conditions, including cancer. In 2009 Upstate created its first endowed chair for a woman: the Patricia J. Numann, MD, Chair of Surgery in honor of her life’s work and outstanding dedication. She is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently being honored with the International Society of Surgery Prize for 2011.

Abraham Verghese

An infectious disease physician, Verghese is senior associate chair and professor of the theory and practice of medicine at Stanford University.

His first novel, Cutting for Stone, (Knopf, 2009) won the Indies Choice book award for Adult Fiction from the American Booksellers Association in 2010.

Another of his works, My Own Country, a memoir about AIDS in rural Tennessee, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and made into a movie. His second book, The Tennis Partner, was a national bestseller. He has published extensively in the medical literature, and his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and elsewhere.

Verghese is a strong advocate for the value of bedside skills and physical diagnosis, skills he sees as waning in an era of increasingly sophisticated medical technology. At Stanford, he was instrumental in the development of the “The Stanford 25″ initiative that is designed to showcase and teach 25 fundamental physical exam skills and their diagnostic benefits to interns.

Verghese earned his medical degree at the University of Madras, did his residency at East Tennessee State University, College of Medicine, and completed a fellowship in infectious disease at Boston University School of Medicine. He later earned a master of fine arts degree at the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa during a two-year sabbatical from his medical work.

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