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Vol. 32, No. 2Summer 2009

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Alumni awardees

Distinguished Alumni Award

Harry R. Kimball, Res. ’64, Res. ’68

Harry Kimball, M.D.

Harry R. Kimball, Res. ’64, Res. ’68, recipient of this year’s UW Medicine Distinguished Alumni Award, has enjoyed the variety of his career. Now retired, Kimball was — among other positions — an allergy and infectious diseases researcher and section head at the National Institutes of Health, a doctor in Yakima, Wash., the chief of general medicine at Tufts University, the president of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and, most recently, the senior advisor to the dean of the UW School of Medicine.

“My C.V. makes me look like someone who can’t hold a job,” says Kimball.

Kimball credits much of his success to Robert Petersdorf, M.D., one of his mentors and the former head of UW Medicine’s Department of Medicine. “He was the most amazing man I’d ever met,” says Kimball: definitive, analytical, loyal. Patients weren’t just illnesses to Petersdorf, Kimball remembers. They were real people with real stories.

It’s no wonder, then, that much of Kimball’s career has been dedicated either to serving patients or to improving the doctor-patient relationship. He left the NIH to become a rural practitioner in Yakima because he missed using the hands-on skills of medicine, and he spent many years, both on the American Board of Internal Medicine and later at UW Medicine, helping to create clinical, educational, and professional standards for doctors.

“I see this arc of my professional life, and it started and stopped on the same point; it started at the University; it ended at the University,” says Kimball. “It’s my spiritual home.”


Early Achievement Award

Daniel L. Marks Ph.D. ’93, M.D. ’95

Daniel Marks, Ph.D.

Not long ago, Daniel Marks, Ph.D. ’93, M.D. ’95, a pediatric endocrinologist and the director of the Oregon Child Health Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University, asked a mother how she felt about her child’s diagnosis of cancer.

The possibility of death was the worst thing, said the mother. But not being able to feed her boy — he wasn’t hungry, even though he was wasting away — was next in line. Nurturing is tremendously important to families in trouble, and, says Marks, “I realized that what we were doing in the lab had a lot of meaning.”

Marks, a graduate of UW Medicine’s Medical Scientist Training Program and the winner of this year’s UW Medicine Alumni Early Achievement Award, researches cachexia, the weight loss and decline that often accompany conditions like cancer. He and his colleagues are conducting phase II and II clinical trials on potential treatments for cachexia. In addition, they research the effect of the Western diet on babies in utero.

Marks also enjoys mentoring. “I love having students in my lab,” he says, and he likes helping junior faculty. “I’m trying to do for my students what Dr. Steiner did for me,” says Marks. In Dr. Robert Steiner, Marks’s mentor and his inspiration for pursuing endocrinology, he found an exemplar of intellectual generosity and a role model.

“It’s important to remember the value of generosity and mentorship in our profession,” says Marks.

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