Buchanan honored by Gold Foundation

Dr. George Buchanan, director of the Barrett Family Center for Pediatric Oncology, has been awarded the 2010 Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award.

The annual award, presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges, honors a medical school faculty physician who exemplifies the qualities of a “humanistic mentor and compassionate physician.” The Organization of Student Representatives (OSR) administers the nomination and selection process. Dr. Buchanan received the award at the association’s annual awards dinner in Washington, D.C.

Dr. George Buchanan

Courtney Wendel, a third-year medical student and the campus’ OSR representative, said the principles upon which medicine should be practiced are epitomized by Dr. Buchanan, professor of pediatrics and head of pediatric hematology-oncology.

“It has been a privilege to have had the opportunity to be mentored by someone who has made a difference in the lives of innumerable individuals,” said Ms. Wendel, who participated in Dr. Buchanan’s Hematology-Oncology Summer Research Program.

Others whom Dr. Buchanan has mentored speak just as highly of him.

Terri Griffith, a fourth-year medical student, and Dr. Sani Mathew, an intern in pediatrics, wrote, “It is a rare blessing to come across an individual whose life mission revolves around the act of giving so fervently – to his community, his patients and his students. Dr. Buchanan is that person.”

The St. Louis native said he feels humbled to have been nominated, let alone to win the award.

“I have tremendously enjoyed my interactions with UT Southwestern medical students, not only when helping them to learn to care for patients in the clinic and hospital, but also in sharing with them the excitement of pediatrics as a specialty and clinical research discovery as a career pathway,” said Dr. Buchanan. “Playing a small role in these students’ success stories has been great fun and intellectually stimulating.”

Dr. Buchanan received his medical degree from the University of Chicago in 1970. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, followed by a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. He joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 1977. 

Though a self-described generalist, he is particularly well-known for his work and research in sickle cell disease, a condition that primarily strikes people of African heritage. The disease is caused by a genetic mutation that affects the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. A single copy of the gene protects against malaria, but inheriting two copies leads to sickle cell disease.

The sickle cell program Dr. Buchanan established in Dallas has become one of the most distinguished in the world, focusing on clinical care and patient-oriented research. He also played a key role in Texas becoming the third state to test babies for sickle cell disease at birth.

Dr. Angela Mihalic, associate dean for student affairs, said Dr. Buchanan’s compassion and sensitivity has been clear since the day she met him: “I knew immediately that he was the physician like whom I wanted to become.”

The award includes a $5,000 grant. An additional $1,000 grant will be given to UT Southwestern’s OSR interest group for OSR-related activities.

Dr. Buchanan previously received the 2007 Distinguished Career Award from the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and the 2008 Mentoring Award in Clinical Research from the American Society of Hematology.

Dr. Buchanan holds the Children’s Cancer Fund Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Oncology and Hematology.

Holidays 2010 /