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Event honors pioneers in education, science and medicine

Jan. 7, 2019, 9:57 AM

From left, John Stark, Carolyn Harris, W. Bedford Waters, MD, and Stephanie Spottswood, MD, attended the recent Vanderbilt University School of Medicine portrait unveiling in Langford Auditorium, which honored Waters, Spottswood, Anna Bowie, MD, Thelma “Byrd” Bowie, MD, James Carter, MD, and Katherine Dodd, MD. (photo by Nathan Morgan)

by Kathy Whitney

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) honored six pioneers for their historic contributions to education, science and medicine during a formal portrait unveiling at Langford Auditorium Dec. 17, 2018. The event, hosted by the Office of Diversity Affairs, was held as part of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of VUMC and Dean of VUSM, opened the event by welcoming guests before turning the program over to André Churchwell, MD, Levi Watkins Jr. MD Professor of Medicine, Biomedical Engineering and Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Senior Associate Dean for Diversity Affairs and VUMC’s Chief Diversity Officer.

“Our heritage of acknowledgement of greatness must recognize diverse leaders representative of the people we serve — such as women, Hispanics, African-Americans, and other diverse groups. Today continues this process and is our third unveiling ceremony. We are lucky to have family members and friends of these treasured heroes and heroines with us today,” Churchwell said.

Those honored with a portrait include:

Anna Mary Bowie was born Nov. 12, 1890, in Nashville. She graduated from George Peabody College and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Vanderbilt University. In September 1915, Anna enrolled in the University of Texas medical school as one of five women in a class of over 60 men. In 1922, she became the first woman named to the faculty of VUSM and served as an assistant in gynecology on the south campus from 1922-1943. She was the first physician to treat students on the Peabody campus. In 1932, she helped open the Tennessee Birth Control Bureau in Nashville. Anna set up a private medical practice from her home in Nashville. Her mother, Eugenia, was the receptionist and her sisters Van and Byrd, both physicians, assisted with laboratory work.

Thelma “Byrd” Bowie was one of two women admitted to the VUSM in 1925, the first year the school admitted female students, and earned her medical degree in 1929. Byrd’s legacy is strongly tied to her two older sisters, Anna and Evangeline. Anna encouraged Byrd and Evangeline (Van) to pursue medical degrees in an era when women typically did not go to college. After graduating from VUSM, Byrd worked at Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado, and then served an internship at San Francisco’s Children’s Hospital. She returned to Nashville where she worked at Vanderbilt University Hospital. In retirement, Anna, Byrd and Van bought hundreds of acres of land in rural Williamson County, which was deeded by Evangeline Bowie to the City of Fairview, Tennessee, in 1988 and became Bowie Nature Park.

James Puckette Carter, MD, PhD, MS, served on the VUSM faculty from 1965 to 1976. Carter was the first African-American faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics and the first full-time African-American on the VUSM faculty. Carter was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1933. He graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1954 and earned an MD from Northwestern University School of Medicine in 1957. Carter earned an MS in parasitology and a PhD in nutrition in 1963 from Columbia University. After training, he came to VUSM as a staff pediatrician and nutritionist with appointments in pediatrics and biochemistry from 1965-1976. He then moved to Tulane University School of Medicine where he was the inaugural chair of the Department of Nutrition and served the rest of his academic career there.

Stephanie Spottswood, MD, MSPH, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in education from the University of Michigan, Master of Science degree in Public Health and MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency in diagnostic radiology at VUMC in 1991 and fellowship training in pediatric radiology at the Medical College of Virginia in 1992. She studied pediatric nuclear medicine at the Children’s National Medical Center and completed her nuclear medicine fellowship training at the Medical College of Virginia in 1993. Following academic and private practice careers in Virginia, Spottswood came to Vanderbilt in 2005 as chief of pediatric nuclear medicine, where she participated in the design of the lodine-131 MIBG radiotherapy space for treating children with intractable neuroblastoma, one of few such treatment facilities in the United States. She was promoted to professor of Radiology and of Pediatrics in 2012. In 2013, Spottswood was appointed associate vice-chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Vanderbilt Department of Radiology.

Katherine Dodd, MD, whose portrait had been previously unveiled, was re-introduced to a new audience to shine a light on her career and its importance to VUMC. Dodd was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1892 and was educated at Bryn Mawr College where she graduated first in her class. She attended Johns Hopkins Medical School, graduating in 1921. After a two-year pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a third year of accelerated residency training at Yale, she opened a private practice in Providence. After a year, she became an assistant professor of pediatrics in 1925 — one of the first female VUMC faculty members and one of the greatest bedside pediatricians of her generation. She left VUMC in 1944 and became the first female head of a department of pediatrics in the country at the University of Arkansas Medical Center from March 1952 to July 1957.

Bedford Waters, MD, received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1970 and became the second African-American to graduate from VUSM. He joined the University of Tennessee Medical Center-Knoxville in 2001, where is professor and chairman of the Department of Urology and director of the urology residency program. Waters received the Excellence in Teaching Award June 2016 from the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine. He is an expert in the treatment of urologic cancers, focusing on renal cancer, testis cancer, bladder cancer and urinary diversion and has served as a leader of many regional and national organizations. As president of the VMAA Board of Directors, he has served his alma mater for many years. He was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Urological Association.

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