Skip Navigation
Search Menu
News & Information Services

Print This Page
Share this page: More


Johns Hopkins Medicine
Media Relations and Public Affairs
Media contact: Jeff Ventura
June 1, 2006

Innovative mentoring groups renamed to honor Nathans, Taussig, Thomas and Sabin

What’s in a name? When it comes to the Johns Hopkins’ School of Medicine’s “Advisory Colleges,” the answer is: a great deal.

For the past two years, newly accepted medical students have been assigned to specific mentoring groups. These “Advisory Colleges” were simply known as “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D.”

Now the schools will be named after four historic figures whose contributions to teaching at Hopkins continue to have resonance within the institution’s culture.

Colleges A, B, C and D will now be called, respectively, Sabin, Thomas, Nathans and Taussig.

Florence Sabin was a dedicated pathologist and anatomist who made significant contributions to the field of histology and, in 1917, became the School’s first female full professor.  Vivien Thomas was an African American surgery assistant, and one of the heroes of the blue-baby operation who went on to teach generations of prominent surgeons at the School.  Dan Nathans won the 1978 Nobel Prize for his discovery of the chemical knives that cut DNA, and was known as a superb mentor and brilliant voice for academic integrity. And Helen Taussig was honored for her pioneering work in congenital heart disease and for her clinical teaching and devotion to her young patients.

As the Advisory Colleges became more relevant to the school’s culture and operations, and as students began to strongly identify with them, the simple lettered naming scheme somehow seemed like a missed opportunity. It was soon decided these new “schools,” which had quickly achieved institutional permanence, should be given names befitting such longevity.

“We realized the historical opportunity of naming these schools,” said David Nichols, M.D., the Vice Dean of Education. “As internal institutions, they have become quite meaningful to our students and faculty, and so we felt they were deserving of names that underscored how important they have become to the culture of learning here.”

The Advisory Colleges were developed to give students a structured, organized way to receive mentorship throughout their entire medical school careers. Functioning in some sense like academic clubs, the schools afford students not only a productive sense of peer membership as it relates to the learning process, but also foster dedicated relationships with specific faculty, who are assigned to each division.

Naming the schools was not an easy task. First, it had to be decided “what” to dedicate the schools after: famous doctors, Baltimore landmarks, ancient cities. After much deliberation among a committee made up of 16 students, five faculty members and various people from other departments throughout the University, the conclusion was reached: the schools would posthumously honor the memories of four of Johns Hopkins faculty members who are remembered for the outstanding mentorship they offered their students. Those chosen would be prominent educators not formally honored before.

The official naming of the schools took place on Tuesday, May 30, during the 12th Annual White Coat Ceremony, a right-of-passage event at which first year medical students are presented with their “white coats,” signifying their graduation into clinical rotations and their progression toward becoming medical doctors.

“The Advisory Schools model really represents a new and exciting way to educate our students going into the future,” said Johns Hopkins Medicine’s CEO and Dean, Edward D. Miller, M.D. “But remembering our rich history of mentorship, and the people that pioneered such unprecedented tutelage, makes our decision to name these organizations even more historically significant.”