Returning the Favor
Near the end of my medical residency at UB, I wrote to the world’s foremost authority on Addison’s disease, Dr. George Thorn, chair of medicine at Harvard Medical School, asking for an interview in order to apply for a research fellowship in his department. Dr. John Talbott, chair of medicine at UB, had encouraged me to at least try to obtain such a position, and he offered to write a supporting letter to Dr. Thorn. Others from UB also wrote letters of recommendation.
I drove from Buffalo to Boston one February day for my much-anticipated interview. Dr. Thorn was courteous and attentive, and stated that I had been highly recommended for his program. However(!)—and this was a most significant “however”—for the coming year, starting in July, he had no further research funds and no fundable position. The drive back to Buffalo was a sad one. When I told Dr. Talbott how the interview had gone, he was visibly disappointed but had no special suggestions for me. Dejected, I continued my studies.
Then, in April, Dr. Talbott summoned me to his office to say that his department had decided to provide from their resources the fellowship funding for the coming year so I could work with Dr. Thorn. I was overwhelmed—slightly tearful, even—and deeply appreciative. They hoped I would consider returning to the UB faculty after my fellowship in Boston—but if I had a better offer at the time, I was not to feel obligated.
In subsequent years, as a professor and research scientist, I accomplished my goal of becoming a recognized authority on Addison’s disease.
As a young, financially struggling medical resident, it was the generous and unexpected support of Dr. Talbott and the UB medical school that made it possible for me to follow my dream. Now, by establishing the Thomas F. Frawley, M.D., Residency Research Fellowship at the University at Buffalo, I hope to help a new generation of residents who lack the funding to fulfill their ambitions. It is my way of “giving back”—of providing concrete evidence of my appreciation to all those who aided me in fulfilling my career hopes.
Thomas Frawley received his M.D. from the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 1944. He lives in Chesterfield, Missouri, just outside St. Louis.