Skip Navigation
Search Menu


No Smoking!

In 1964, medical students smoked cigarettes in the main lecture hall of the medical school during lectures, a practice both unhealthy and annoying. Having dealt with rules and bureaucracy in the Navy, I decided to take action using the rule, “If it ain’t forbidden, do it.” I put up official-looking no smoking signs on each side of the proscenium arch of the auditorium. The next morning, the awesome Dr. Mountcastle was speaking when a student in the front row lit up. Without a word, Dr. Mountcastle tapped his long wooden pointer on the student’s arm desk and then pointed at the sign. That forever ended smoking during lectures.

James R. Merikangas, M.D. ’69

Bethesda, Maryland

Cherished Memories

Thank you very much for the special issue celebrating 125 years of the school of medicine [Winter 2018] and the wonderful articles about Dr. Anne B. McKusick and Dr. Victor A. McKusick, whom we truly miss.

I cherish the years being a fellow, when I had the privilege to know and learn from Dr. Victor McKusick, a gentle person, a pioneer and a giant in medical genetics. His catalog, Mendelian Inheritance in Man, later the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, is a superb task that has been continued by outstanding people in this field.

I retired after 40 years of founding our Unit of Medical Genetics [the Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado, in Venezuela]. I am grateful and honored that it now bears my name.

Many thanks for keeping me in touch with Johns Hopkins, and congratulations for your very good work. Looking forward to the next issues of the magazine.

Frank G. Hammond, M.D., M.H.S. ’77

Fellow in Medical Genetics 1975–77; Barquisimeto, Venezuela

He Sold His Blood

I was a student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and graduated in 1970. Although every year I received a full-tuition scholarship and a loan from the university, and lived frugally, in my first year, I extrapolated my bank balance, and by March, it was at zero.

I had been selling my blood every eight weeks for $25 per unit but needed extra funds until I began a summer research job in late May in Kingston, Ontario.

Although I had an A.B. magna cum laude from Princeton University, I could not find a single bank manager in Baltimore who would lend me $300 based on my own signature. I eventually found a junior faculty member who kindly countersigned my promissory note—a somewhat humiliating experience.

I originally intended to remain in the United States, but because of the trauma of the Martin Luther King Jr. riots in April 1968 and the fact that I married a Canadian woman, I returned to my country of birth.

I sincerely applaud Michael Bloomberg for a generous donation [“Bloomberg donates ‘unprecedented’ $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins”/AP] that will hopefully prevent future indigent Hopkins students from repeating my personal experience.

While Michael Bloomberg’s gift is focused on undergraduates and financial aid as a key for access, raising funds to support graduate students remains a top priority for Johns Hopkins. In the recently concluded Rising to the Challenge campaign, some $377 million was raised for graduate scholarships and fellowships. —Editor

Charles S. Shaver, M.D.

Ottawa, Ontario

Short Versus Long

I am neither a medical professional nor a subscriber, but I occasionally run across an issue of Hopkins Medicine. I am actually a lawyer with a long-standing interest in medicine in general, and medical genetics in particular, and I once served for a time on the board of directors of one of Houston’s finest hospitals.

On my way to reading the CRISPR article in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue [“Mighty Mouse”], I chuckled when I read the “In Focus” piece about short coats. While local practices and knowledge levels vary from institution to institution, I suspect that most patients don’t have a clue. At my hospital, a long white coat was as likely to be worn by a chaplain or administrator as a clinician, and I suspect the issue of pejorative perceptions is one that exists more within the profession than outside it.

As for the CRISPR article itself, I found it interesting and enlightening. Keep up the good work.

M.C. “Rick” Walton