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The great thing in the world is not so much where we
stand, as in what direction we are moving.
—Physician Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)
New chair honors "Pfeff"
By Kate Villars
Dartmouth Medical School has honored one of its most beloved and respected faculty members with the creation of a professorship in his name. The Elmer R. Pfefferkorn, Ph.D., Professorship in Microbiology and Immunology recognizes Pfeff erkorn's outstanding contributions to DMS as a teacher and scientist over the course of more than 40 years.
"Dr. Pfefferkorn is truly a legend at DMS and an icon in the teaching of medical students," says DMS Dean Dr. William Green. "Of significant note is the fact that this chair is the direct result of faculty, students, and alumni requesting that this honor be bestowed upon this truly outstanding educator, scientist, and friend of DMS."
"Pfeff," as he has been fondly called by generations of students, is now a professor emeritus of microbiology and immunology. His gift for teaching and his intellect, compassion, and dry humor have made him an unforgettable and formative instructor for several generations of DMS alumni. He is also internationally recognized as a creative, forward-thinking scientist who has made fundamental contributions in the areas of parasitology and virology. His leadership was also critical to the development of the Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis Programs at DMS. (See the article "An Amazing Human Being" for more on his career.)
At last count, over 400 former students and past and present colleagues had helped to fund the Pfefferkorn Chair. A comment from donor Matthew Dolan, DMS '85, speaks to the motivations of many alumni contributors: "Dr. Pfefferkorn was undoubtedly the educator who had the most influence on both the choice of my subsequent career and on my approach to medical education," wrote Dolan. "I came into his class interested in immunology and infectious diseases; I have spent most of my life following his class focused on it."
The Pfefferkorn Chair will be awarded to an outstanding microbiologist or immunologist who exemplifies
Endowed chairs help to sustain research, advances in clinical care, and teaching of the next generation.
Pfefferkorn's dedication and excellence in both teaching and research.
Endowed professorships are a vital tool in attracting and retaining the most talented faculty members, who will further strengthen DHMC's position as a leader in academic medicine. In today's climate of shrinking federal funding for research, these endowments help to sustain pioneering research and its translation into advances in clinical care, as well as allow faculty members to dedicate more of their time to the important work of teaching the next generation of physicians and scientists.
Currently, DMS has 25 fully funded endowed chairs. The funding of additional endowed professorships is a priority of the Transforming Medicine Campaign, and to date the Campaign has received commitments to fund five new chairs, as well as significant gifts towards the eventual establishment of several others.
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Kate Villars is assistant director of development communications for DMS-DHMC