College of Medicine Recognizes Excellence with Alumni Awards

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Annually, the College of Medicine honors four alumni as having made distinguished contributions to the health care industry. 2008 honorees include: Drs. Robert Demos, Richard Grossman, Robert Kerlan and Randal Weber.

Significant medical strides have been made locally, nationally and worldwide as the direct result of University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Medicine graduates. Annually, the College of Medicine honors four alumni recognized by the executive committee of its alumni council as having made distinguished contributions to the health care industry. This year’s Outstanding Alumni Awards will be presented during a luncheon ceremony at the Peabody Hotel on Friday, September 26 at noon. Honorees include: Drs. Robert Demos, Richard Grossman, Robert Kerlan and Randal Weber.

Robert Demos, MD, Class of 1944, devoted his working life to obstetrics and gynecology. In 1947, he began serving Army hospitals and delivered numerous low-weight babies that went on to live full lives. His work included delivering the smallest infant ever born in an Army hospital (1 pound, 13 ounces). That infant grew up to become a physician. Dr. Demos’ focus on ensuring the safety of his patients led him to win the second-highest non-combat award in the Army, “The Commendation Ribbon for Meritorious Achievement.”

With a career spanning 50 years of practice, Dr. Demos delivered more than 10,000 babies and never lost a mother. He served as chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at hospitals in both Tennessee and Georgia. Additionally, he made a unique treatment discovery, Estratest and Estratest HS, to reduce menopausal symptoms in middle-aged women. Currently, these medications are among the most-prescribed estrogen replacement therapies in the world, providing more energy for menopausal women.

Richard Grossman earned his MD in 1957. In 1972, he founded the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital in Sherman Oaks, Calif. His goal was to provide the community with the highest level of burn care possible. Under his leadership, the facility grew from a two-bed unit to a 30-bed center with a multidisciplinary burn team administering comprehensive care to more than 300 patients each year.

The Grossman Burn Center evolved to include an outpatient department and same-day surgery center to provide specialized care to patients not requiring hospitalization. From Korea, China, India, Europe, Saudi Arabia and the African continent, patients are flown to the Grossman Burn Center for its excellence in acute burn care and reconstructive surgery.

A California resident since 1964, Dr. Grossman also practices plastic and reconstructive surgery privately. He has authored or co-authored more than 30 medical journal articles and has contributed to six textbooks.

Robert Kerlan, MD, a 1969 College of Medicine graduate, spent time early in his career with Memphis Medical Specialists, a local multidisciplinary medical practice group. While there, he was warmly referred to as “Dr. Bob,” a reflection of his deep compassion in patient interactions.

Dr. Kerlan’s peers later elected him to the presidency of Saint Francis Hospital, Memphis, and to the presidency of the Saint Francis Hospital Independent Practice Association. He is active with the UTHSC College of Medicine Alumni Council and in recruitment for the UTHSC Stollerman Endowed Professorship in Medicine. Dr. Kerlan has served as a director of Memphis Medical Society and has completed one term of office as its president.

Committed to the physician community regionally, Dr. Kerlan holds several leadership roles with physician-related entities such as the State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Company, the Tennessee Medical Association, and the Board of Directors of Q-Source, Tennessee’s quality improvement organization for the delivery of heath care services.

Randal Weber, MD, an alumnus of the class of 1976, is an internationally recognized surgeon specializing in head and neck injury. He serves in two capacities at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston — he is the Huber L. and Olive Stringer Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research, and chairman of the Department of Head and Neck Surgery.

Dr. Weber is involved in the oversight of several training fellowships and has been a lecturer and visiting professor at many institutions. He has presented more than 130 lectures and panel discussions, and is past president of the Society of University Otolaryngologists (Head and Neck Surgeons), the American Radium Society, and the American Head and Neck Society. He was appointed Director of the American Board of Otolaryngology in 2007 and has published two books, 40 book chapters, and more than 200 manuscripts and articles. For 13 years, Dr. Weber was editor of Head and Neck: Journal for the Sciences and Specialties of the Head and Neck. He currently serves on the editorial boards of several publications including: Journal of Clinical Oncology, American Journal of Rhinology, Head & Neck, and Clinical Medicine: Ear Nose and Throat.

Dr. Weber was recently appointed to the UTHSC College of Medicine Alumni Council.