Pride in PreMat

PreMat — a prematriculation program for first-year medical students — is sponsored by the UW School of Medicine’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. The program gives students the academic and social support they need to facilitate a smooth transition into medical school. David Acosta, M.D., Res. ’91, the dean of multicultural affairs, instructors Andy Farr, Ph.D., and Charles H. (Chip) Muller, M.D., Ph.D., Res. ’82, and program coordinator Mary Walls, MPH, congratulate the students on completing their histology course.

Our WWAMI Students

Medical students at the University of Alaska in Anchorage pose, at right, in the Alaska Native Medical Center. Every year, 20 students begin their first year of medical school in Alaska — part of the WWAMI program’s work in creating educational opportunities in a five-state region.

The WWAMI students at left — all from Montana, either in their third or fourth year of medical school — take a break from work and study to relax at a gathering in Missoula. Missoula is one of more than 100 sites in WWAMI where medical students undertake training. Pictured in the green shirt: Douglas S. Paauw, M.D., Res. ’98, ’99, internal medicine faculty.

Dinner With a Doctor

Jane A. Lester, M.D. ’86, Res. ’90, (second from left), hosts students Jaqui Foss, Kelly Fong and Lacey Irwin at a Student-Alumni Informational Dinner (SAID) in February. Interested in participating in SAID? Or in other programs where alumni help students with advice or a place to stay (and more)? Contact us at, 206.685.1875 or toll free 1.866.633.2586.

Lifetime Achievement

Franklin Newman, M.A., Ph.D., above, a founder and former director of the Montana WWAMI program, was awarded the UW School of Medicine’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on behalf of the program. The award was presented on Oct. 7, 2011; Newman passed away shortly thereafter, on Nov. 11. Pictured above, from left to right: Dr. Newman, Jay Erickson, M.D., Res. ’90, assistant clinical dean for Montana, Martin Teintze, Ph.D., interim director and assistant dean of Montana WWAMI’s first-year program, and Kris Juliar, director of the Montana Area Health Education Center.

A Bill of Rights for COPD: Lawrence D. (Larry) Grouse, M.D. ’72, Res. ’73, Ph.D.

“Now that I’m spending more time as a patient than as a physician,” says Lawrence D. (Larry) Grouse, M.D. ’72, Res. ’73, Ph.D., “I realized that more attention needs to be paid to patient preferences and outcomes.”

Grouse is the executive director of the International COPD Coalition (ICC), a global organization that supports access to care for people suffering from COPD. Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is most often caused by smoking, it also can be caused by pollution and biomass fuel use.

In 2009, the ICC developed a bill of rights for COPD patients. Grouse and his colleagues are using the bill — which includes the right to safe air and a safe environment — as a tool. For instance, the ICC is working with Prof. Nanshan Zhong and the Chinese Health Ministry in a global initiative to diagnose the disease early, when there may be a better chance of stopping or reversing its course. The ministry is motivated, in part, by the rise of COPD cases and related deaths in China, one of the side effects of the country’s rapid industrialization.

“We obtained the strong support of the Chinese Health Minister, Dr. Zhu Chen, for our program,” says Grouse. And on Nov. 6, 2011, the ICC presented an achievement award to Dr. Chen and the Chinese Health Ministry for their work in combating COPD.

The Thrillionaire: Nassim P. Assefi, M.D. ’97

What’s a thrillionaire? Someone who enjoys giving simply for the thrill of it. The word was coined by philanthropist Ruth Ann Harnisch, but School of Medicine alumna Nassim P. Assefi, M.D. ’97, has embraced it as her own.

“I came to realize early in adulthood that I had won the lottery of birth — in North America, to educated and supportive parents… and this perspective has fueled my deep desire to give back,” says Assefi, a second-generation Iranian-American. One of the ways she gives back is her medical practice; Assefi works at Country Doctor Community Health Centers in Seattle, which serves people whether or not they can pay for care. She also volunteers for human rights clinics through Health Rights International and Physicians for Human Rights, networks of volunteer physicians that evaluate and advocate for torture victims.

Assefi is a novelist, too — Say I Am You, her second book, explores privilege, the promises and perils of humanitarianism, and what two young Muslim women in post-Taliban Afghanistan do with their lucky lot in life. And soon, she’ll be adding another accomplishment to a long list of accomplishments: the birth of her first child.

“The practice of medicine is more of a hobby for me these days than my professional livelihood, and I’ve never been happier,” says Assefi. Read more about Assefi at or follow her on Twitter at @nassefi.