Michael J. Ahearn, Ph.D., Oral History Interview, August 02, 2011
Major Topics Covered:
- Personal and educational background; faith;
- Research: cytogenetic markers, leukemia;
- The Ultrastructure Diagnostic Laboratory;
- Developing the School of Allied Health Professions;
- Medical education; technology in education; shortages of health professionals;
- Extramural education programs:;
- Technology and education;
- Educational outreach programs;
- Memories of early years at MD Anderson
Chapter 01: Inspired to Practice Medicine and Lured to MD Anderson with an Electron Microscope
Chapter 02: Memories of a Small MD Anderson and R. Lee Clark
Chapter 03: Research Innovation Leads to a New Ultrastructure Diagnostic Laboratory and Discovery of a Cytogenetic Marker
Chapter 04: Creating a New School of Allied Health Professions
Chapter 05: Establishing the School of Allied Health Professions: Challenges and A Commitment to Excellence and Critical Thinking
Chapter 06: A Virtual Radiation Therapy Machine: Innovative Education in the School of Allied Health Professions
The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
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University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas System. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute at Houston, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute
History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History
Ahearn, Michael J. PhD and Rosolowski, Tacey A. PhD, "Michael J. Ahearn, Ph.D., Oral History Interview, August 02, 2011" (2011). Interview Sessions. 9.
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About the Interview
This interview with Dr. Michael Ahearn (b. 1936, Jackson, Texas) takes place in three sessions conducted on August 2nd and 3rd and November 21st, 2011. The total interview duration is approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes; Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D. is the interviewer. The first two sessions are conducted in Dr. Ahearn’s office at the School of Health Professions at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In one corner of the office stands a wooden mace that each year is carried into the School’s graduation ceremonies by the eldest member of the academic faculty. A cluster of ribbons ornaments the mace, each one commemorating a different year.
Dr. Ahearn has served as Dean of the School since its founding in 1987, an initiative in which he took a leadership role. He is also a Professor on the Faculty. During the approximately 2 and one-half hours of interview time, Dr. Ahearn discusses the School and its educational mission, his role in creating educational materials on skin cancer prevention for schoolchildren and teachers, and his early days as a cytologist/ultrastructural pathologist in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at MD Anderson. “I have had the privilege of serving under all three MD Anderson presidents,” he states (R. Lee Clark, Charles LeMaistre, and John Mendelsohn). He offers sharp recollections of first years at MD Anderson (including the uniformed elevator operators) and insights on the presidents’ characters and contributions. On 30 June 2011, Dr. Ahearn was presented with the MD Anderson Presidents’ award, signed by all three former presidents, in recognition of his contributions. He was elected to the University of Texas System Academy of Science in 2005, inducted into the Texas Science Hall of Fame in 2002, and received the Rogers Award for Excellence in Education in 2000.
In this interview, Dr. Ahearn talks about his contributions to MD Anderson’s histopathology services and his role in developing the School of Allied Health Professions as well as educational outreach programs. He is a wonderful storyteller, candid and thorough. This interview shows Dr. Ahearn to be passionate about education and the commitment to active caregiving on which MD Anderson is founded.
About the Interview Subject:
Dr. Michael Ahearn (b. 1936, Jackson, Texas) came to MD Anderson in 1965 to work in the Section of Cytogenetics Immunology Ultrastructure in the Department of Clinical Pathology and serve as Director of the Diagnostic Ultrastructure Hematology Laboratory prior to focusing his career on educational initiatives. Dr. Ahearn developed a rapid histo-chemical technique for differentiating forms of leukemia that revolutionized diagnosis and treatment. In administration, Dr. Ahearn has had a profound impact on education. He has served as Dean of the School since its founding in 1987. He was instrumental in MD Anderson gaining degree-granting status in 2000. He has been active in creating programs to foster science education outside MD Anderson and to build educational programs at MD Anderson. He has created educational materials and programs to address skin cancer prevention for schoolchildren and teachers.