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UM School of Medicine Gala Celebrates 210 Years of Discovery, Innovation and Impact

Monday, May 01, 2017

Dean Reece at Podium

The air was filled with history, excitement and anticipation on a warm spring evening as more than 1,000 business and community leaders, donors, faculty staff, students and other distinguished guests gathered for the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Annual Gala in Baltimore. This year’s event celebrated the School of Medicine's 210th anniversary, and it coincided with the Medical Alumni Association’s Reunion Weekend.

The theme for the 2017 Gala was Envisioning a Vibrant Tomorrow, which set the tone for an evening of celebration and recognition of past achievements and new discoveries that will pave the way for discovery, innovation and patient care in the future.

"Currently the School of Medicine’s footprint is in 35 countries worldwide. Just think about that from our rather humble beginnings 210 years ago," said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine. "Our long and rich history has set the bar for Envisioning a Vibrant Tomorrow."

Co-Chairs for the Gala were former patients, Valencia McClure and Kimberly Spletter. "We are living proof of the advances and innovation occurring every day at the University of Maryland School of Medicine," said Ms. McClure, who is also a member of the School of Medicine's Board of Visitors.

Robert E. Fischell, ScD (second from left) and Selvin Passen, MD (second from right) awarded the Dean's Distinguished Gold Medal Award.

Two individuals were awarded the Dean’s Distinguished Gold Medal Award.

Robert E. Fischell, ScD, a physicist, inventor, holder of more than 200 U.S. and foreign patents on medical devices and recipient of President Obama’s National Medal of Technology and Innovation, was awarded the Gold Medal for his work inventing critical medical devices. Dr. Fischell serves as a member of the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Board of Visitors. Dr. Fischell's inventions include coronary artery stents, implantable heart defibrillators, an implantable insulin pump and other critical devices that have extended and provided the quality of life for millions of people around the globe.

The other Distinguished Gold Medal Award recipient was Selvin Passen, MD, University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Class of 1960 and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology. Dr. Passen co-founded Maryland Medical Laboratories in 1968 and fostered its growth as a clinical laboratory testing facility to become the largest in the region and one of the busiest in the United States. He has been an active member of the Medical Alumni Association of the University of Maryland, serving actively on the Board of Directors since 1986. He was elected as the 124th president in 1998. At the gala, he was honored for his work as a pathologist and philanthropist whose scientific initiatives set new standards for clinical laboratory testing.

Private philanthropy continues to be integral to the growth of the School of Medicine. Darren Parker, Interim Associate Dean for Development, highlighted the impact donors have had on advancing the work of the School. "Throughout tonight's program you will hear stories about research, discoveries, clinical breakthroughs, educational advances and compassionate outreach,” said Mr. Parker. "Many of you in this room have made transformational contributions allowing your faculty, staff, trainees and students to push the boundaries of knowledge discovery and innovation to the benefit of many here in Maryland and around the world."

The Gala program closed with a special video presentation (below), showcasing a series of breakthroughs made by the school’s academic community -- efforts that have propelled innovations and discoveries that have saved lives both here and around the globe.

Next year’s Gala will be: Saturday, May 5, 2018.


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