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Charley Bryan is known as “the conscience of South Carolina medicine.”
For an inherently humble physician, 2015 may have been an embarrassing—albeit gratifying—year, given the impressive awards Charles “Charley” Bryan ’67 received.
Bryan, who is professor emeritus of internal medicine at the University of South Carolina, was honored with a 2015 Johns Hopkins Distinguished Alumnus Award, as well as the 2015 American College of Physicians’ Centennial Legacy Award from its South Carolina chapter.
Bryan, who began his career in his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, in 1974 as the only infectious disease expert in the region, spent four decades as one of the South’s leading experts on infection control and hospital epidemiology. In a landmark 1976 editorial in The Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association, which he edited from 1976 to 2012, he was among the first to sound the alarm on the overprescribing of antibiotics. He also helped forge South Carolina’s early response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In addition to his 36-year editorship of that journal—perhaps a national record in such a post—Bryan’s deep interest in medical history, ethics and professionalism, both past and present, and his theories on virtue—detailed in a 2006 book, For Goodness Sake: The Seven Basic Virtues—prompted one colleague to call him “the conscience of South Carolina medicine.”
With snow-white hair and matching mustache, eyeglasses, and ever-present bow tie, Bryan seems to embody not only the caring physician but a medical scholar—another role he fulfills with distinction. Internationally recognized as an authority on William Osler, about whom he has written or co-edited four books, monographs and articles, he has received the William Osler Medal from the American Association for the History of Medicine, the Thomas E. Woodward Award from the American Clinical and Climatological Association, is a Master of the American College of Physicians, and includes among many such accolades the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest award for nonmilitary-related service.
After retiring from the university in 2008, Bryan, now 74, currently serves as director of internal medicine and family medicine at Columbia’s Providence Hospitals, “where I was born,” he says. He also continues “academic stuff”—researching, writing books and papers, and lecturing widely.