DeBakey Medical Foundation Expands Medical Humanities Scholarship at Baylor University with Generous Gift

February 21, 2013
DeBakey Medical Foundation Gift to Medical Humanities

(L to R) ? Gale Galloway, DeBakey Medical Foundation trustee; Baylor University DeBakey Scholars in Medical Humanities Estela Rodriguez Alonso, Stephanie Allen, Tyler Jones, Elizabeth Puckett, Elizabeth Miller; and Dr. George Noon, president of the DeBakey Medical Foundation. (Randy Fiedler/Baylor University)

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Latest gift helps fund scholarships for DeBakey Scholars who carry on legacy of family that "revolutionized the field of medicine"

WACO, Texas (Feb. 21, 2013) - During a special campus ceremony today, Baylor University accepted a $500,000 gift from the DeBakey Medical Foundation to expand the Michael E. DeBakey, Selma DeBakey and Lois DeBakey Endowed Scholarship in Medical Humanities. With this gift, the Foundation has invested $1 million in the DeBakey Scholarship fund, which was established in 2009.

"On behalf of the DeBakey family, this magnificent gift is yet another compelling testament to their leadership and commitment to invest in meaningful health care and the effective education of future leaders in the medical profession," said Baylor University President Ken Starr. "This generous gift from the DeBakey Medical Foundation will expand the good work already being done in conjunction with the DeBakey name, and we offer our deepest gratitude for the immediate and future impact of the Foundation's generosity through this scholarship."

The Michael E. DeBakey, Selma DeBakey and Lois DeBakey Endowed Scholarship Fund in Medical Humanities benefits Baylor students pursuing studies in Medical Humanities. Students awarded the scholarship are designated as "DeBakey Scholars" to carry on the legacy of a family that revolutionized the field of medicine.

Dr. George P. Noon, president of the DeBakey Medical Foundation, and Gale Galloway, a 1952 graduate of Baylor University and DeBakey Medical Foundation trustee, presented the check to the University during a reception at the Baylor Sciences Building, which houses the Medical Humanities and science disciplines at Baylor.

"Dr. Michael E. DeBakey was a great scholar and a great believer in this program that you have here at Baylor University," Noon said. "I started medical school about 50 years ago and all the information I have gathered over 50 years of on-the-job training, your students will be able to get in four years; so we are very happy and pleased to help fund this program."

Humanities, the arts and the human condition

The Medical Humanities program at Baylor University incorporates the insights of disciplines ranging from literature to economics to religion into the practice of modern scientific medicine. By providing a broad base of knowledge about the human experience, the program produces students with the scientific background, as well as the human understanding, that will result in physicians able to care for their patients' well-being in addition to their wellness.

"I was thinking on the way over here of how far the Medical Humanities program has come in such a short time," said Lee C. Nordt, Ph.D., professor of geology and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor. "Medical Humanities is a program that is now on the cutting edge and that other programs across the country are trying to emulate. We are indebted to Dr. Noon and Gale Galloway. We owe a great deal of thanks to these two men.

"The DeBakey Medical Foundation has invested $1 million in scholarships, specifically for Medical Humanities. It validates the program to have that type of support from a world-renowned medical foundation," Nordt said.

"Dr. DeBakey's name is one of the most prestigious in all of American medicine, so we are particularly thrilled to have the support of the DeBakey Foundation," said Lauren A. Barron, MD, lecturer and associate director of Medical Humanities at Baylor. "Such a generous gift will go a long way to help us in our mission to bridge the art and science of medicine and to prepare Baylor students who not only excel in the sciences, but who also understand medicine as a sacred vocation."

DeBakey Scholars

Tyler Jones, a senior Medical Humanities major and DeBakey Scholar from Tulsa, Okla., expressed his appreciation for the DeBakey Medical Foundation's generosity.

"Receiving the DeBakey Scholarship was an incredible gift," Jones said. "Due to an illness in my immediate family and my younger sister starting college, I needed to find a way to help support my education. I already worked the hours I could afford that still allowed me to keep up with the extremely high demands of pre-med course work, so the scholarship was a huge relief and a blessing. I am so grateful for the DeBakey's belief in my education and investment in my future."

In addition to Jones, Baylor DeBakey Scholars who have benefited from the DeBakey Scholarship are Stephanie Allen, a senior medical humanities/biology major from Lake Jackson, Texas; Elizabeth Miller, a senior medical humanities major from Colleyville, Texas; Elizabeth Puckett, a senior medical humanities major from Gainesville, Texas; and Estela Rodriguez Alonso, a senior medical humanities major from Bergondo, Spain.

"I became a believer in Baylor in 1948," Galloway said. "There hasn't been a single day since that time that Baylor hasn't been in my thoughts and prayers and sometimes in my deeds. I've seen over and over again the great commitment of Baylor people throughout this University and our country. I know that you can judge a university by its graduates, and our graduates have done very well."

Renaissance man, Renaissance family

In a career that spanned seven decades, Dr. Michael E. DeBakey has been acclaimed as a founder of cardiovascular surgery and a true Renaissance man. Because of his work, once impossible life-saving procedures, such as coronary artery bypass, now are common operations. As a result of his World War II military service, he helped develop Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals to accommodate the wounded more quickly, and he later helped establish the Veteran's Administration Medical Center Research System.

In addition, DeBakey worked with his sisters to pioneer a new discipline, medical communications education. Lois and Selma DeBakey are both professors of scientific communication at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and they developed a curriculum to teach doctors to think, read and write critically, and to express their ideas in clear, concise and cohesive language. Recognizing the importance of effective communication with patients as well as the medical community, the DeBakey family sought to fill the void.

"We believe that the Medical Humanities Program at Baylor is helping to revolutionize healthcare, one student at a time," Barron said. "The legacy of a gift like this to a new generation of physicians that begin their training here at Baylor University is priceless. There's no question in my mind that Dr. DeBakey would be proud of what we're doing at Baylor in answer to the challenges facing modern medicine."

DeBakey joined the faculty of Baylor University College of Medicine (now the Baylor College of Medicine) in 1948, serving as chairman of the Department of Surgery until 1993. He was president of the College from 1969-1979, then served as chancellor from 1979 until January 1996, when he was named Chancellor Emeritus. He also was the Olga Keith Wiess Professor of Surgery and Distinguished Service Professor in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, and he served as director of the DeBakey Heart Center for research and public education at Baylor College of Medicine and the Methodist Hospital.

A few months before he died in 2008, DeBakey received the Congressional Gold Medal, rounding out his collection of some of the most significant awards an American citizen can receive, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction, the National Medal of Science and the prestigious Lasker Research Award.

Before being recruited by Baylor College of Medicine in 1968, Selma DeBakey was the founding director of the Editorial Department of the Ochsner Clinic and Foundation in New Orleans and the founding editor of the Cardiovascular Research Center Bulletin, Ochsner Clinic Reports and guest editor of a number of peer-reviewed medical journals.

Lois DeBakey was professor of scientific communication at Tulane Medical School when she was recruited by Baylor. Earlier, she was Editor of Tulane Studies in English.

Together, the DeBakey sisters pioneered the teaching of biomedical communication and conducted the first medical school curriculum-approved courses in this subject; they have since conducted courses by invitation of major medical schools and meetings throughout the United States and abroad. They have published numerous medical books, chapters and articles on writing, editing, publishing, visual supplements, ethics and related subjects. Their publications are considered classics and have been translated into a number of foreign languages.

Selma DeBakey received the Distinguished Service Award of the American Medical Writers Association and, with Lois, has served on the boards of various other professional organizations. Lois was named Distinguished Alumna by her alma mater, Newcomb College.

They have also served on various editorial boards, including those of the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal, as well as on the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center Advisory Council, National Library of Medicine Board of Regents, American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel and consultants to the Encyclopedia Britannica Medical and Health Database.


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University's oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 26 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit