Cyrus E. Rubin Endowed Chair in Medicine
Long-term financing for training of future professors of medical specialties is essential, but it presents some problems. The first challenge is to find physicians willing to endure long training in order to become a teacher of a clinical specialty. This individual also must be expert in caring for patients with a disease while also performing research studies during their care with the patient’s informed consent.
Dr. Rubin played a leading role as one of the few academic gastroenterologists who was an early supporter of using endoscopes for diagnosis in gastroenterology. He helped expand its therapeutic value to stop bleeding, sample tissue and even to remove some tumors. Dr. Rubin was especially well-known for his description and analysis of celiac disease and analysis of the damaging effects of this disease from eating grains such as wheat, barley and rye. He also studied chronic inflammation and cancer of the intestinal linings.
Among honors received by Dr. Rubin are the Distinguished Achievement Award and the Friedenwald Medal, awarded by the American Gastroenterology Association. He also received the prestigious Rudolph Schindler Award from the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
Dr. Rubin’s lifelong contributions have been to train future professors of gastroenterology and to perform research during his clinical practice. He has played a major role in establishing the University of Washington’s Division of Gastroenterology as one of the country’s foremost training sources of future academic gastroenterologists. He has always been concerned with maintaining the safety of his patients during experimental studies. He is an authoritative figure in the microscopic study of the gastrointestinal lining, and he helped to improve the design of endoscopes. For example, Dr. Rubin collaborated with bioengineering Prof. Wayne Quinton to reduce Prof. Quinton’s clever design of a hydraulic biopsy tube to use in clinical practice. With this instrument, Dr. Rubin was able to follow real-time changes in the microscopic structure of the gut lining during disease development.
At this time, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which had funded the training of many academic gastroenterologists, realized that they had not provided adequate funding for their long-term support. In 1986, the NIH established the lifetime Career Research Award to recognize excellence in the training of academic gastroenterologists. These awards were created in an effort to retain scientists like Dr. Rubin, who might otherwise leave their field in search of more secure funding sources, and he was among the first award recipients. This lifetime award gave Dr. Rubin the security he needed to continue his career in academic medicine.
Dr. Rubin participated enthusiastically in the training of future professors of gastroenterology at the University of Washington. He mentored nearly a third of the more than 100 fellows trained in the division, many of whom are now leaders in academic gastroenterology in the United States and abroad.
The establishment of the Cyrus E. Rubin Endowed Chair in Medicine is a permanent tribute to Dr. Rubin’s legacy and will serve to enhance the ability of the Division of Gastroenterology to train future gastroenterologists for the University of Washington and other medical schools. Thus, this endowment will help to train the teachers of their specialty in perpetuity.
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