Fall 2001


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A Quarter Century of Stories from Hopkins Medicine, 1976-2001

By Edith Nichols

[Related Articles: "25 Years on Campus," "25 Years of Medicine," "25 Years at the Bench," "25 Years of Building"]

Richard Ross
The publication Richard Ross created is full of the glories and struggles of Johns Hopkins Medicine. In many ways, it is the story of American Medicine.

Richard Ross may not even have realized it, but when he begat Hopkins Medical News he created a history. His chronicle is no dry collection of facts, though. Twenty-five years later, a trip through the magazine reads like a pageant full of drama and intrigue and colorful characters. Issue by issue, the personalities, the glories and the struggles that form Johns Hopkins Medicine unfold. And in many ways, it's the story of American medicine itself.

As the publications got off the ground in the late 1970s—just a little newsletter then—its pages were filled with descriptions of physicians who were using unusual new technology in diagnosing and treating patients. Those high-powered imaging machines and precise operating tools would change the practice and the economics of medicine forever. In the 1980s, as the terrifying AIDS plague swept onto the landscape, Hopkins surged early into the battle. The death of one of its own from the scourge stunned the institution. By the '90s, the health care octopus, managed care, was dominating copy. And suddenly, it was clear that the economic security of even a Johns Hopkins could be threatened. What a read through Hopkins Medical News brings home is the increasing complexity of the issues academic medical centers have had to deal with.

The quarter century of stories that we chose for this 25th anniversary issue could have been organized in several different ways. Most obvious would have been a simple chronology starting in 1976, ending in 2001. But a grand tableau comes with plots and subplots. And it is just so with Hopkins Medicine: At the same time in the 1980s that star urologist Pat Walsh showed the world a safer prostate surgery that could preserve a man's potency, up the street, fabled raconteur Don Coffey was tantalizing medical students with stories of his work in the lab as a prostate-cancer researcher. Meanwhile, an ultra-modern outpatient center was in the last stages of construction on campus and the Hospital had finally gone smoke-free.

Medical advances, laboratory discoveries and campus life all form the fabric of this place. But they are separate threads moving in tandem with each other. That is how we present them to you now in these 25 years of stories from Hopkins Medical News—as "A Place Alive," "Medicine on the March" and "Learned at the Bench."