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First Two Non African-American Graduates of Meharry Medical College to Receive Awards at 2008 Fall Convocation

Two Honorary Degrees also to be Bestowed

Nashville, TN (Vocus) September 24, 2008 -- [Meharry Medical College] ( will kick off its academic year on Monday, September 29 at 9 a.m. with an outdoor ceremony in the amphitheatre on campus to mark its 133rd Convocation. The first two non African-American graduates of Meharry will be honored at the ceremony with the presentation of the Presidential Distinguished Service Medals to Ralph Lachman, M.D., '61 and posthumously to Al Gorman, D.D.S., '61.

Dr. Lachman, Professor Emeritus of Radiology at UCLA Geffen School of Medicine and a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University has had a distinguished 37-year career as a pediatric radiologist. His professional focus has been on the definition and diagnosis of the skeletal dysplasias and the genetic and molecular basis for these disorders in children. He is widely considered to be the world's leading authority on this pediatric disorder.

Dr. Lachman and his family fled Nazi Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1939 when he was 4-years-old. He completed his undergraduate studies at Temple University before being admitted to and coming to Meharry in the fall of 1957.

"Dr. Lachman's remarkable journey was filled with what many would consider overwhelming challenges, but Meharry Medical College embraced him and helped to shape his path for the future," said President and CEO of Meharry Medical College, Wayne J. Riley, M.D., MBA, MPH, FACP.

Alfred Gorman, D.D.S., was also admitted to Meharry Medical College in 1957. He maintained a private family dental practice in Suffern, New York for 42 years; and was a member of the American Dental Association. He passed away January 8, 2003. Dr. Gorman's wife recalls stories of her husband taking part in tumultuous Civil Rights activities in Nashville. She says he met with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. Two of Dr. Gorman's children graduated from Meharry Medical College and practice dentistry in the Baltimore area. His family will accept the Presidential Distinguished Service Medal on his behalf.

The admission of Drs. Lachman and Gorman to Meharry Medical College during the days of rigid racial segregation in America speaks volumes about the academic health center as a national treasure and of the strong moral and ethical character of the College's fifth President, Dr. Harold D. West, Jr. whose landmark decision paved the way for these first non-black students to join the Meharry Medical College legacy of service.

In addition to the awards being presented to Dr. Lachman and Dr. Gorman, Honorary Doctor of Science Degrees will be presented to Huda Yoda Zoghbi, M.D. '79 and JW Carmichael, Jr., Ph.D.

About Huda Yoda Zoghbi, M.D. '79:
Dr. Zoghbi is a Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Molecular and Human Genetics, Neurology, and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. Zoghbi acknowledges Meharry Medical College's role in helping her realize her dream of becoming a physician. Originally from Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. Zhogbi was forced to transfer from American University of Beirut because of the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon. She came to Meharry Medical College in the late 1970s and earned her M.D. in 1979. Dr. Zoghbi is also one of an elite few prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators in the world. Her pioneering scientific work includes the discovery of the gene for Rett Syndrome, a neurodegenerative disease of childhood and the genetic, behavioral and biological approaches to other such disorders.

About JW Carmichael, Jr., Ph.D.:
Dr. JW Carmichael began his tenure at Xavier University of Louisiana in 1974 when he was named premed advisor by Xavier President Dr. Norman Francis. A "Xavier legend", Dr. Carmichael is esteemed for having the vision and commitment to develop a pre-medical and pre-dental program that has supplied more African-American healthcare students to professional schools than any other undergraduate program in the country. Many Xavier alum have attended Meharry Medical College. Under Dr. Carmichael's mentorship and tutelage, Xavier leads the nation annually in the number of African American students who gain acceptance to medical, dental, doctoral and other health professions programs.

During the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, while trying to manage his own relocation issues, Dr. Carmichael's strong commitment to his students was apparent when he worked to keep his scattered premed students' medical school applications on track. He began a blog containing information about medical school applications and deadlines, and set up a method through Duke University for Xavier's pre-med students to submit their applications to various medical schools online. Because he had cell phone numbers and e-mail address for every premed student, he was able to maintain contact with all of them, even amid the devastation and confusion.

About Meharry Medical College [Meharry Medical College] is the nation's largest private, independent, historically black academic health center dedicated solely to educating minority and other health professionals. The College is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services; and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation's health professions workforce. Diverse Issues in Higher Education's ranking of institutions annually lists Meharry as a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees, and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences.


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