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Fishman Endowment Supports Endocrinology Visiting Professorship
Professor emeritus shows gratitude to UM, Miller School

Lawrence M. Fishman, M.D., wife Suzanne, and Jay S. Skyler, M.D.

Forty-two years ago Professor Emeritus Lawrence M. Fishman, M.D., arrived at the Miller School of Medicine from Vanderbilt University, where he had been a fellow in diabetes and endocrinology.

Fishman had been recruited to UM by chairman of medicine William Harrington, M.D., to fill the role of assistant professor with the Endocrinology Division as well as chief of endocrinology and metabolism at the Miami VA Medical Center.

In 2004 the Lawrence M. Fishman Visiting Professorship in Endocrinology was established by Fishman’s colleagues, in part to commemorate his stellar service to the Miller School. Fishman, who retired in 2008, recently announced that he and his wife, Suzanne, made a commitment to safeguard the visiting professorship’s continued existence.

“Suzanne and I have decided to set up an endowment at the Miller School, the proceeds of which would go to subsidize the annual visiting professorship,” Fishman says. “It’s the same program, except now we are providing a source of funding for it.”

In odd years, the lectureship series will continue to be named the Annual Lawrence M. Fishman Visiting Professorship in Endocrinology. And in even years, it will recognize Fishman’s good friend, Jay Skyler, M.D., a professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.

“On even years, the name will be the Jay S. Skyler Visiting Professor in Diabetes and Metabolism,” Fishman says. “Nationally, Jay is a renowned clinical investigator, clinician, and researcher. I think this would be an appropriate way to assure that he has some continuing recognition.”

It was an honor Skyler never saw coming from his friend of 32 years. “I’m too young to have a lectureship,” Skyler says, laughing. “To be quite frank, I don’t expect to reach emeritus status for many more years. But really, it just floored me. I’m thrilled that that’s been done.”

Skyler was a delighted guest at the Fifth Annual Lawrence M. Fishman Visiting Professorship in Endocrinology series, which took place in January over a two-day span. The first lecture was given during medical Grand Rounds, while the next was conducted the following day during endocrinology Grand Rounds. The 2009 lecturer was none other than Fishman himself, who served as associate chief of staff for research at the Miami VA from 1975 to 2003, in addition to his Miller School duties.

Fishman modestly remarked that he “would be happy to carry the notebooks” of the lecturers who preceded him, one of whom was Nobel laureate Andrew V. Schally, Ph.D., M.D.h.c., D.Sc.h.c., who is a Leonard M. Miller Professor of Pathology and Professor of Hematology.

Asked why he and his wife decided to make a visiting professorship endowment, Fishman’s reply can be summed up in one word: gratitude.

“I am very grateful to the University and the medical school for my professional life,” Fishman says. “I have been very blessed in a professional way and have some wonderful colleagues. I have had the opportunity to take care of patients, to teach, and to do research in a stimulating and developing medical center.”

Having access to distinguished visiting professors enhances a medical school in ways tangible and intangible, according to Fishman.

“The kind of people whom we have invited over the years have been extraordinary,” he says. “To learn about what they’re doing and what their latest insights are is a wonderful opportunity for fellows, students, and even for the faculty.”