Alumnus Jane Chan, MD'82, endowed a scholarship that will benefit students pursuing an MD degree.
Faculty Member Honored for her Mentorship
When Ting-Wa Wong, MD'57, PhD'70, was a medical student at the University of Chicago, she had two mentors, Robert Wissler, SM'43, PhD'46, MD'48, and Eleanor Humphreys, MD'31. "They not only were eminent pathologists but also excellent and lifelong teachers. Their extraordinary qualities, both intellectual and human, were what inspired me to become a pathologist and teacher myself," recalls Dr. Wong. Just as Drs. Wissler and Humphreys influenced Dr. Wong, associate professor of pathology, Dr. Wong has inspired generations of medical students, including Jane Chan, MD'82, a pulmonologist in Hong Kong. Recently Dr. Chan endowed a scholarship in honor of her mentor.
"I have always wanted to do something for Dr. Wong to show how large and influential a space she occupies in my heart," says Dr. Chan. "During the formative years of my medical education, she was my teacher and mentor, from whom I acquired my basic knowledge in medicine and laboratory research."
The Dr. Ting-Wa Wong Scholarship will benefit students pursuing the MD degree, and will link Dr. Wong to the University in perpetuity. "I was overwhelmed by the gift and touched by the generosity and kindness that prompted it," says Dr. Wong. "This selfless act is deeply revealing of Dr. Chan's innate charity and giving spirit, which are the personal attributes I have long discerned in her and what make her such a superb physician."
Lifetime of Recognition
For her teaching, Dr. Wong has received numerous awards. In the last 10 years, she was honored with the Outstanding Basic Science Teaching Award six times and the LDH Wood Pre-Clerkship Teaching Award three times. For the past 25 years, she has been voted one of the "favorite faculty members" annually by graduating seniors. In 2006, she was named one of six founding members of the University of Chicago Academy of Distinguished Medical Educators.
“Dr. Chan’s recognition of Dr. Wong’s influence is, indeed, one of which she should be most proud,” says Dr. Holly Humphrey, MD’83, Dean for Medical Education. “So many of us have been privileged to attend Dr. Wong’s classes and to receive her wise counsel during our years at the medical school, and I look forward to watching our future Wong Scholars who will undoubtedly follow in her distinguished footsteps.
"On a personal level," Dr. Humphrey adds, "I am most inspired by the way students are drawn to her engaging teaching year after year in a career that spans several decades at the University."
Unique Teaching style Key to Her Success
Dr. Wong was the coordinating teacher for general and cellular pathology when Dr. Chan arrived at the University. "Dr. Wong had a unique way of welding pathologic and clinical materials, making them fascinating to learn," Dr. Chan says. "The highlight of the course was her illuminating discussion of the case studies and pathologic slides; she has an unusual ability of explaining complicated subjects in a simple and lucid manner. This enlightening course formed the bedrock of my subsequent learning in clinical medicine. I remember her vividly as the teacher our class all loved."
"Dr. Chan worked as Dr. Wong's research assistant during her medical school years; so began a friendship of 34 years. Says Dr. Chan, "She was a great mentor in the laboratory, who patiently showed me the way at the bench, yet encouraged me to think independently, to make my own mistakes, and to learn from them."
After her internal medicine residency at the University and her fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Standford, Dr. Chan returned to Hong Kong in 1989. For the next 14 years, in addition to being a wife and mother, she worked in the Respiratory and Critical Care Unit of the teaching hospital of the University of Hong Kong, eventually becoming the head of adult intensive care. Six years ago, she joined private practice as a pulmonologist/intensivist.
Career highlighted humanitarian work
A highlight of Dr. Chan's academic career was her humanitarian work in the Hong Kong epidemic of SARS in 2003. "I was director of the SARS ICU in a major public hospital during the outbreak, risking my own life to help patients whose lives were at stake from a little-known virus," says Dr. Chan. After the epidemic, she edited a 30-plus chapter monograph on SARS, authored by more than 80 physicians. Dr. Chan's success is no surprise to Dr. Wong, who recalls Dr. Chan's "incisive mind as a student, which enabled her to see through a problem clearly and grasp its significance swiftly. But equally impressive were her human qualities," says Dr. Wong.
"Her disposition was ever cheerful and sunny, and her character candid and open. There was a pervasive kindness in her nature that was transparent to all. I well remember thinking, back then, how marvelous it would be to have a physician like her, who not only ministers to one's ills, but also makes one feel better by the sheer contagion of her happy and optimistic personality. What she was as a student is the herald of the warmhearted, caring, and insightful physician she has become in her mature years."