New Family Legacy


Left: Linda Kay and John McGowan Jr. Right: Doris and John McGowan Sr.

McGowan Scholarship assists MD/MPH student

A couple of years ago, an Emory medical student walked into John McGowan's office seeking advice. "I can't stand it," she told McGowan about her OB/GYN rotation at Grady Memorial Hospital. The student loved caring for her patients. But the number of single teen mothers distressed her. "I'm going to do something about it," she said.

"She wanted to study behavioral sciences and health education to craft some messages to address the problem," recalls McGowan, who directs the MD/MPH program. "And she did."

It is a success story that McGowan has witnessed many times. As of May 2009, 84 students had completed the joint program since the first student graduated in 1997. By May 2010, 16 more students are expected to graduate and raise the total to 100.

For McGowan, leading the MD/MPH program is a fitting role. As a physician and epidemiologist who has studied antibacterial resistance, he understands the needs of individual patients and patient populations and how research can improve their health. As a faculty member with the RSPH and School of Medicine, he recognizes the financial pressures that MD/MPH students face.

To help defray the cost of their education, McGowan and his wife, Linda Kay, have established the John E. and Doris W. McGowan Scholarship. Named for his late parents, the scholarship provides tuition support for a student during the MPH year. Lindsay Boole, who holds a BS degree in biomedical engineering and has worked in other countries as a clinic volunteer, became the first McGowan Scholar this fall.

"The average student debt for four years of medical school is huge, and the MD/MPH program requires another year of study," says McGown. "Not only are students adding an extra year to study public health, but they also are making an additional financial commitment."

The scholarship reflects McGowan's family history. His father practiced in New York and at Brooklyn State Hospital on Long Island, where he helped pioneer the field of child psychiatry. His mother was a social worker at the same hospital. Her father was a physician who was one of the first directors in the state hospital system in New York.

Now retired, McGowan's wife, Linda Kay, directed special projects in the CDC director's office and served as vice president of programs with the CDC Foundation. Their daughter, Angie McGowan 98MPH, is a senior program officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and past president of the RSPH Alumni Board. All share a commitment to MD/MPH students.

"Word has gotten around that we have a strong MD/MPH program, and students are looking at Emory specifically because of that," says McGowan. "It has become a valuable recruiting tool for the medical school. We didn't build the program. The students did."—Pam Auchmutey

Table of Contents