James McAuley, ’85 MD, ’87 MPH, traveled to Chicago from Lusaka, Zambia, to attend this year’s Alumni Weekend. He came primarily to see old friends, but also to hear about what Feinberg is doing in the realm of global health.
“It’s fantastic to be here,” said Dr. McAuley, who is Zambia’s country director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helping manage resources to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases. “It’s exciting to hear about the great opportunities Northwestern students have to go overseas. I hope those experiences will inspire some of them to make healthcare for underserved populations a big part of their long-term careers.”
Thirty years after graduating, he credits the public health courses he took at Feinberg, a community health rotation and supportive professors and classmates for setting up his own career path. Dr. McAuley was one of about 400 alumni and guests who visited Feinberg for Alumni Weekend on April 17 and 18 to catch up with those former classmates and to reminisce about his experiences here.
“I suspect everybody here feels the same about their class, but mine is really an amazing group of people who are passionate about medicine, stay in touch and encourage each other – all those things that help keep your career going,” he said.
Over two days, attendees talked with current students, visited hospital sites and attended forums led by Feinberg faculty on topics spanning from social media and medicine to human genome sequencing. Visitors also went behind the scenes of the Galter Health Sciences Library, saw how trainees practice their skills in the Northwestern Simulation facility, and met with investigators in the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences laboratory.
“I’m very impressed with how much the campus has changed,” said Harriet Pien, ’70 MD, one of three alumni who made the trip to Chicago from Honolulu, Hawaii.
In more than 60 years, Norman Simon, ’55 MD, has also seen major transformations at Feinberg. After completing residency – interrupted by a three-year stint in Germany to serve as an army physician – Dr. Simon returned to Northwestern for a fellowship in nephrology, before it was widely considered a medical subspecialty.
“I was fortunate to have mentors at Northwestern during the halcyon days of nephrology. We saw big things happen, from the application of dialysis for chronic kidney failure to the development of a drug that made transplantation possible,” said Dr. Simon, who continued to work at Northwestern for 15 years before moving to Evanston Hospital.
On Friday, Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean, gave an update on medical school activities. He highlighted the impactful research being published by faculty, trainees and students, as well as the high national rankings Feinberg, Northwestern Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital have received among medical schools and hospitals.
Afterward, alumni gathered for an evening event that included dinner, dancing and a salute to 26 members from the class of 1965 celebrating their 50-year reunion.
Francisco González-Scarano, ’75 MD, was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award, an honor given for outstanding professional achievement.
“I had no idea what I was going to do in medicine when I came to Northwestern. The people here turned me on to the field of neurology and to research, influencing everything I’ve done sine then,” said Dr. González-Scarano, who is dean of the School of Medicine and vice-president for medical affairs at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
“It is a privilege to be a physician, and I thank the school for setting me up to be one,” he said during his acceptance speech.
The festivities continued Saturday: Alumni and their families took a fun run on the lakefront, toured Chicago on a trolley and attended reunion class dinners.
View photos from Alumni Weekend events.