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Hopkins Pulse - Lectureship Honors Cardiac Education Legacy

Hopkins Pulse Summer 2014

Lectureship Honors Cardiac Education Legacy

Date: June 23, 2014

Alan Greenspan is lead donor for Stephen Achuff lectureship.

Economist Alan Greenspan: “I’m a lecturer by profession, and I find it one of the most important ways to communicate ideas.”
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Economist Alan Greenspan: “I’m a lecturer by profession, and I find it one of the most important ways to communicate ideas.”

Cardiologist Stephen Achuff may have nearly flunked economics in college, but for the past 12 years he’s been getting high marks from one of the most authoritative economists in the country. In fact, so pleased is Achuff’s patient Alan Greenspan with his care that the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board is a lead donor to a lectureship in Achuff’s name. The lectureship honors Achuff’s upcoming retirement in June and was permanently established through the generosity of several additional grateful patients.

“Lectures are one of the most important ways to communicate ideas,” says Greenspan, a Washington, D.C., resident who served at the Fed for 18-plus years and is a frequent guest lecturer himself. “I think highly of Dr. Achuff—and all my Hopkins doctors,” he says. “I thought contributing to a lectureship would be the ideal way to show my gratitude.”

Achuff, the David J. Carver Professor of Medicine Emeritus, is a 45-year Johns Hopkins veteran and served as director of adult cardiology clinical programs for 25 years. Achuff says he enjoys a warm relationship with Greenspan and was “quite honored” by the news about the gift. “It was incredibly generous of him,” he says. “The lectureship is in line with my interest in clinical care and education.”

Indeed, Achuff is something of a legend among young trainees. “Steve has an encyclopedic knowledge of cardiology, a commitment to teaching and a calm, unflappable personality,” says Clinical Cardiology Director Ed Kasper, recalling his days as an intern under Achuff’s tutelage. “The lectureship is a fitting way to honor Steve.”

Achuff says he derives great satisfaction from mentoring residents and cardiac fellows. Besides offering them clinical insights on heart disease, Achuff is known for his eagerness to share his breadth of historical knowledge about Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The St. Louis, Missouri, native’s passion for the institution began went he spent a year doing pathology research followed by a clinical clerkship in medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. “I came to love this place and its great history,” says Achuff. “Hopkins is unique, because my sense is that it’s among the most collegial of academic centers.”

The inaugural cardiology lecture takes place on Sept. 10, 2014.

Despite plans to retire soon, Achuff remains committed to serving on various committees and to furthering cardiac education, beginning with the new lectureship. But he also looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Cary, son, two daughters and three grandchildren.

On a recent follow-up visit, Greenspan was surprised when Achuff handed him a copy of Greenspan’s new book, The Map and the Territory, to inscribe. “It’s not often that a doctor hands you your book to sign,” says Greenspan, 88. “I was impressed that he had read it.”

Looking back on his career, Achuff says he has no regrets that he never pursued his original plans to become a stockbroker. Though he still reads the Wall Street Journal, he says he never quite grasped the elaborate mathematical formulas behind economics. “My grade in economics was a huge disappointment to my father, who was a businessman,” recalls Achuff. Instead, Achuff followed the path of many other relatives, including five generations of Norwegian doctors on his mother’s side.

Greenspan’s journey to the Fed was equally nonlinear. A Juilliard School student, Greenspan played saxophone and clarinet professionally before pursuing economics. These days, he enjoys playing piano and tennis twice a week with his wife, NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell. How does he keep his mind sharp? “I use it,” he says. “Analytically, I’m still capable; I can still do differential equations. Getting people’s names right is another story.”

But philanthropy, notes Greenspan, is not a complex subject. “Giving money to support causes that are meaningful to you is a very easy thing to do.”


The Man Behind the Lectureship: Stephen Achuff, M.D.

David J. Carver Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute

  • Completed his internship, residency and fellowship in cardiology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
  • Served as director of adult cardiology clinical programs at JHH for 25 years.
  • Served as assistant director of the adult cardiac catheterization laboratory and cardiologist for the Lipid Research Clinic.
  • Served on the board of governors for the American College of Cardiology from 1988 through 1991.
  • Authored or co-authored articles for 71 publications, including 25 book chapter sections.

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