Class Notes

Black and White photo of Lester Bolanovich’50s

Lester Bolanovich (MD ’51), a psychiatrist, still sees patients twice a week at his Pittsburgh practice. Last year, he published the book “Reflections on Life, Marriage, and Anger,” based on case studies and insights drawn from his 60-year career. “I was interested,” he says, “in why people are attracted to others from a psychological standpoint.” From this initial spark, Bolanovich studied how innate psychological traits can contribute to anger and interpersonal conflicts within romantic relationships. Postpublication, the book’s research subjects have become some of its biggest fans: “I have gotten good feedback from my patients,” he says.

Black and white photo of Gary and Christine Williams’60s

Christine Williams (MD ’67) and Gary Williams (MD ’67) met as Pitt Med students and were married the winter before graduation. After a storied career in pathology, Gary Miller is professor emeritus of pathology, microbiology and immunology at New York Medical College. Christine Miller, whose career in pediatric medicine and public health spanned 40 years, retired in 2007, and the pair now reside in Florida. “Gary and I are fortunate,” Christine recalls, “that our careers complemented each other in so many ways. Many times, he would help me solve a medical mystery, or I would have a good idea for his work.”

Black and white photo of Pierce Scranton’70s 

Pierce Scranton (Orthopaedic Resident ’77) has a namesake award with the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation. Their new Pierce E. Scranton Humanitarian Service Award recognizes those who have followed his example. Scranton, a former foundation president, established its outreach and education program. He and fellow surgeons have treated more than 1,500 landmine-harmed patients in Vietnam through one of the program’s most successful projects. “That they’ve named this award for me, I’m very honored and humbled,” says Scranton, whose career highlights include practicing at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle and serving as a physician for professional footballers, figure skaters and ballet dancers.

Black and white photo of Laura Riley’80s

Laura E. Riley (MD ’85, Obstetrics/Gynecology Resident ’89) chairs the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine and is obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. By developing her expertise in infectious disease and high-risk pregnancy during HIV/AIDS and H1N1 outbreaks, Riley “gained a perspective,” she says, “on the need for clinical research into the efficacy and safety of drugs and vaccines during pregnancy.” She currently serves on a COVID-related task force with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the CDC to write guidelines for treating COVID-19 in pregnancy and talking to patients about vaccines.

Black and white photo of John Dubinion’00s

John Dubinion (PhD ’06), who grew up next door to Pitt Med in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, is a pharmacologist for the FDA’s division of pharmacology/toxicology in infectious diseases. In that role, he says, “I analyze animal- and cell-based studies that support the safety of antiviral drugs.” He also provides recommendations on which drugs should advance to clinical trials and ensures that a drug’s product information insert, once on the market, describes all known risks. Dubinion was part of the review team for the approval of the first COVID-19 therapeutic drug, remdesivir, which works to stop replication of SARS-CoV-2.

Black and white photo of Adebola Giwa’10s

Adebola Giwa (MD ’13) says he wears “just a few hats.” He’s a clinician at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. He’s a research investigator in pediatric endocrinology at Johns Hopkins, where he and his colleagues in the Hamad Laboratory discovered an immune cell that may trigger type 1 diabetes. (See their 2019 report in Cell.) And he is associate medical director for Ascendis, a company developing a drug for achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. Giwa also wears community service hats. He received Hopkins’s Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Community Service for fundraising for school supplies at a Baltimore school.

Black and white photo of Samantha Slight-WebbSamantha Slight-Webb (PhD ’13) is an immunology consultant for the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. She studies lupus as part of a team in the James and Guthridge laboratories, specifically investigating which immune features result in higher lupus rates in African Americans. One in every 250 African American women will develop lupus in their lifetime, says Slight-Webb, and “once they do develop the disease,” she notes, “it’s likely to be more severe.” Her lab is researching lupus’s preclinical autoimmune features; she hopes that work might one day allow providers to target lupus earlier and determine more personalized treatments.