Dr. Paul Klotman, president of Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr. Rob Zurawin, president of the Baylor alumni Society (right), present Dr. Eugene Boisaubin with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Paul Klotman, president of Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr. Rob Zurawin, president of the Baylor Alumni Society (right), present Dr. Eugene Boisaubin with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Baylor College of Medicine has honored Dr. Eugene Boisaubin, professor of internal medicine, with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Granted during BCM’s reunion weekend April 19-21, the award is presented to alumni “whose lifelong pursuits have achieved the zenith of accomplishment and serve as an inspiration to others.”

“My reaction to the phone call from Baylor about the award was one of pure shock and disbelief. I called their office the next day to make sure this wasn’t a joke or error,” Boisaubin recalled.

Boisaubin is a resident alumnus of BCM, graduating from his internal medicine residency in 1975. He received his medical degree from the University of Missouri Medical School. Before joining the Medical School in 2001, he was a faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

The inaugural BCM Lifetime Achievement Award was granted to Dr. Michael DeBakey in 2006.

“Obviously a school like Baylor has countless outstanding alumni and others were recognized for contributions to the sciences and leadership. But this alumni award usually goes to people, not because of their NIH awards, but to individuals who have made broader contributions to medicine, the community and even society,” Boisaubin said.

Boisaubin is no stranger to accolades, having received the Medical School’s first Distinguished Teaching Professorship Award and being named a Health Professionalism Scholar for the UT System in 2011. He is a member of the State of Texas Governing Board for the Physician Health Program and is active on the medical staff at Memorial Hermann Hospital and Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital.  An academic internist, he has been a clinical medical ethicist and ethics consultant at three medical universities for over 25 years.

Boisaubin said the “tsunami of technology” that has overwhelmed medical practice in the last 30 years has been one of the most important medical advances in his professional lifetime. “The great bulk of it has been for the good, but increasingly it has also become an excuse for physicians not to spend time with patients to actually find out by history taking and examination whether they really need the proposed technology. Often they don’t.

“Fortunately the best news is that our medical students are brighter and more sophisticated than ever and seem to truly want to become competent and compassionate physicians in an even more challenging world of practice,” he said.

Boisaubin is a core faculty member and resident advocate of the Internal Medicine Residency program and a faculty member of the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics. He also serves as the director of the Ethics and Advisory Core for the NIH Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences.

He said one of his proudest contributions was as expert medial consultant and monitor of Texas for the Federal Southern District Court regarding the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, from 1982-86.

“At that time, medical care in the jails and prisons of Texas was horrible, like most Southern states, with two doctors for every 17,000 prisoners, and other convicts providing much of the medical care. Correcting prison abuses was one of the last major components of the Civil Rights movement in America. Every two weeks or so, I would visit a TDCJ unit, visit inmate patients, and review medical records and write reports for the Federal Monitor, Judge William Wayne Justice.

“No jurist in this state ever had the power that Justice commanded and over several years, he also forced Texas schools to integrate and educate illegal immigrants as well as reformed the prison health care system. Needless to say, he was the most hated man in Texas and endured weekly death threats. With unflinching commitment to do the right thing, he became my hero. And I’m very proud that my piles of reports assisted in a very small way to bring substantial changes for the better to this state,” he said.

-Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School