SMHS Unveils Blum Surgical Education Fund
Among Selma Liss Blum’s favorite events to attend were graduations, said Stanley Knoll, MD, clinical professor of surgery and medical director of the Office of International Medicine Programs at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), recalling his aunt’s love of higher education. In appreciation for her love of learning, Blum’s family members gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the Selma Liss Blum and Jerome W. Blum Surgical Education Fund.
The fund will provide for educational expenses and materials in the GW Department of Surgery, and also includes the Stanley M. Knoll, MD, Endowed Surgical Prize, an annual award for the GW surgery resident who most exemplifies clinical excellence and serves as a role model and leader in the Department of Surgery.
“Selma’s love for education was probably spawned in the days when she completed college and went on to graduate school while working full time in an era when money was not plentiful,” Knoll said. “So it appears that family, education, and fate are what brought us here today.”
The unveiling ceremony started on the third floor of Ross Hall, at the Washington Institute of Surgical Education and Research (WISER) Center. The center is dedicated to surgical education and application of innovative technologies to train surgeons and medical students in the most advanced procedures to provide exceptional patient care.
Knoll and his colleagues helped bring the WISER lab to GW in the 1990s, after a trip to Ethicon Inc. headquarters to convince the company to get into the laparoscopic industry. The company founded the WISER lab, and supported its foundation and equipment.
Following the unveiling and a tour of the center, family, residents, faculty, and friends gathered for a reception and remarks from Knoll and Anton N. Sidawy, MD, MPH, Lewis B. Saltz Chair of Surgery and professor of surgery at SMHS, as well as a video message from Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, vice president for health affairs, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, and dean of SMHS, who was out of the country at the time of the unveiling.
Sidawy described one of his first encounters with Knoll, when he, then a resident, scrubbed in on a surgery with the junior attending surgeon.
“I don’t remember now what case or operation it was, but what I do remember is that boy it was fun. Especially for a junior resident like me at the time, the real fun part was the interaction between Dr. Knoll and Dr. [Norman] Issacson,” recalled Sidawy. “The whole operation, they were going back and forth and back and forth about every step of the operation, in a very funny way. And for me at the time, one thing I got from that is, they cared about doing the best for the patient, each one in their own way.”
Sidawy added that his relationship with Knoll, though special, is not unique. “He’s had many similar relationships with the residents here at GW, this is what Stanley and many of us call ‘the Surgical Circle of Life.’ He cares about the residents and their education.”
In addition, both Selma and Jerome faced medical hardships, recounted Knoll during the reception. Ulcers led Jerome to undergo a gastrectomy, performed by John Garlock, MD, a famous surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital. Meanwhile, Selma was seriously injured during a fall and subsequently successfully cared for by a GW surgical alumnus Reza Askari, MD ’00, BA ’96, BS ’96.
“So, to the residents, this is the continuity of our department and helping set up this lab 30 years ago,” Knoll said. “You’re training in our department and … in this new facility, and it will enable you to go out into the surgical workforce, anywhere, here, locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally, and you will be the best that there is.”
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