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Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008

Richard B. Gunderman

Herman Frederic Lieber Memorial Award

Associate Professor of Radiology, Pediatrics, Medical Education, Philosophy, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy
Schools of Medicine and Liberal Arts
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Appointed to IU faculty, 1997
A.B., Wabash College, 1983
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1989
M.D., University of Chicago, 1992
M.P.H., Indiana University, 2002

"He is in it for the right reasons, to be a teacher, a coach, and a mentor, to work with his students, to listen to them, to encourage them, and to challenge them to be the best that they can be."

--Madeleine Kennedy, Director of Lilly Research Labs

Passing on medical knowledge to future generations is a solemn obligation of physicians' Hippocratic Oath. Richard Gunderman, associate professor in the schools of medicine and liberal arts at Indianapolis, takes that duty seriously. He says that the Hippocratic Oath is "a testament to the fact that medicine has been around longer than any of us, and will persist long after we are gone."

Richard Gunderman

Richard Gunderman

Dr. Gunderman's commitment to education extends beyond medicine to encompass other academic disciplines: he also teaches in the Center on Philanthropy and the Department of Philosophy at IUPUI. John Tilley, professor and chair of philosophy, points out that Professor Gunderman has made significant contributions to pedagogical literature, based on his "original ideas about the interface between liberal arts and medical training" and "integrating ethical reflection into medical and liberal arts education." Gunderman has developed a number of unique courses in philosophy that represent his interdisciplinary approach to education, including Medicine's Human Image, Philosophy in the Epics of Homer, Religion and the Life Sciences, and Perspectives on Health, Disease, and Healing.

Gunderman's writings argue that medical education must be revived, saying that in recent years medical research and patient care have overshadowed education. He gives his radiology students practical teaching experience. Every student in the radiology clerkship prepares and delivers a presentation to peers on a topic in medical imaging. Gunderman also works with colleagues to develop "teach the teachers" curricula for several national professional organizations, including the Association of University Radiologists, the American Roentgen Ray Society, and the Radiological Society of North America.

His radiology textbook for medical students, Essential Radiology (Thieme Medical Publishers, 1998 and 2006), is one of the best-selling radiology textbooks in the English language. His Achieving Excellence in Medical Education (Springer, 2006) was described by the New England Journal of Medicine as a book "about the pursuit of excellence in medical education, construed above all in ethical terms," and by the Journal of the American Medical Association as "an eloquent, quotable, and inspirational book." He recently published We Make a Life by What We Give (IU Press, 2008), a book that explores the ethics of philanthropy. David H. Smith, IU professor emeritus of religious studies and former director of the Poynter Center, writes of this latest work, "Gunderman is as important a humanistic voice in the discussion of philanthropy as I know of. He writes like an angel; he works out of a rich Aristotelian tradition; his views are balanced, clear, and persuasive."

He has authored more than 200 scholarly articles, but makes his students a priority. His advisees include five medical school students, three premedical school students, three master's students in philanthropic studies, two master's students in philosophy, and three Ph.D. students in philanthropic studies. "I don't know where he finds the time for it," says Tilley. "But the important point is that he does find the time for it, and it's a great contribution to this university."

Gunderman is a five-time recipient of IU's Trustees Teaching Award, and the IU School of Medicine recognized him with its highest teaching honor, the Faculty Teaching Award, in 2006. In 2007 he received IUPUI's Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Gunderman sets aside time to get to know his students, often having lunch with them. He encourages his students to take an active role in their learning, which he says leads to a deeper understanding of the subject matter. One student evaluation reads: "I can't imagine a more thoughtful, well-read, compassionate professor."

Gunderman serves as vice chair of the Department of Radiology and director of Pediatric Radiology at Riley Hospital for Children. He developed Leadership in Medicine, an elective course for fourth-year medical students at IU. The month-long program provides students with readings and discussions on leadership, as well as a service-learning project.

Former student Charles Jarrett sums up Professor Gunderman's many attributes: "It is rare to find someone who has an exceptional gift of teaching, a deep compassion for and understanding of individuals, and participates in an active life of helping people to understand more about themselves and each other."