UC Davis School of Medicine’s 50th Anniversary got off to a rousing start this week with a fun-filled event to kick off a celebration that will continue throughout the coming year.
The festivities brought together current and former students, staff and faculty for brief remarks and reminisces, along with a variety of booths featuring School of Medicine commemorative items and archive photos, as well as an unlimited supply of ice cream and toppings.
Representing the inaugural class that was inducted in September of 1968, Joanne Berkowitz Murphy, a now retired internist from Sacramento, recalled how exciting it was to be part of a brand new school of medicine.
“When I think of the word that best describes how we felt when we got to this medical school, it was welcoming. We’re 47 young people, and there’s probably a faculty member for every one of us,” said Berkowitz Murphy, who was one of just three women in the first class. “The medical association and the doctors in the community welcomed us with open arms. We could do anything we wanted to do. Observe anywhere we wanted to be. Everybody was so happy to see us, so nurturing and so giving of their time, energy and intelligence.”
A founding faculty member and now a UC Davis emeritus professor of medical microbiology and immunology, Demosthenes Pappagianis arrived from UC Berkeley in 1967. He joined Dean C. John Tupper and a tiny group of faculty members working in what were then considered temporary buildings to put into place everything needed to open the school’s doors to medical students.
“We had plenty of responsibilities those first few years,” said Pappagiannis, who mentioned the variety of committee assignments – from admissions and interviews to curriculum and classes. “I’m sure we were all astonished that we had that first class of students who were qualified and admitted in 1968.”
Speakers noted that since its founding, UC Davis School of Medicine has grown into an internationally recognized leader in health education and biomedical research. It’s become renowned for a primary care training program, recently ranking number 10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and a research program that has grown exponentially and now ranks among the top 20 percent of all U.S. medical schools for National Institutes of Health funding.
Vice Chancellor David Lubarsky reflected on those achievements over five decades, and also looked to the future, with an emphasis on combining all the new technologies with the traditions of compassion and patient care.
“Medicine will be very different in the next 50 years,” Lubarsky said. “It’s not going to be what I learned [in medical school]. “It’s going to be about figuring out how to tailor and craft unique therapies for the individual, something we call ‘precision medicine’ and ‘personally targeted therapies.’ However, we will still need to be the most compassionate and the most aware. We have to be culturally sensitive and understand there are other things – social determinants of health – that we have to recognize and embrace in order to be effective doctors.”
A special webpage has been created to also help celebrate the past half-century. And over the next academic year, the School of Medicine will be hosting a number of events and activities to mark this special anniversary and help say, “Cheers to 50 years.”