New peds chair celebrates honoree, recipient’s dedication to children

New peds chair celebrates honoree, recipient’s dedication to children

Amidst good humor and heartfelt admiration, two long-time friends were recognized Thursday night for their dedication to keeping Mississippi's children healthy. 

At the celebration, Dr. Edwin P. Harmon, chief of pediatric urology, was named the first James E. Keeton, M.D. Chair of Pediatric Urology, a newly endowed chair established with a $1 million gift from Friends of Children's Hospital. 

Harmon and Keeton have been friends since 1972 when they met in the Medical Corps of the United States Navy. At the event, they were surrounded by their children, grandchildren and other friends, including one friend Keeton has known since "footie-pajama days." 

Friends of Children's Hospital surprised Keeton, former vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, with the principal gift to establish the chair, which is meant to enhance research and clinical care in pediatric urology. It is the fourth endowed chair in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. 

Dr. Dan Jones, chancellor of the University of Mississippi, introduced Keeton, noting that among Keeton's many talents, the strongest is his ability to bring people together. 

"If you want to know something about compassion for other people and caring for other people, he's your man," Jones remarked. 

"This is a personal honor for me, but that's not what this is about," said Keeton. "This is about the children of Mississippi. This is about improving health care in Mississippi. That's our whole mission at the Medical Center. That's our whole mission for the state of Mississippi." 

Chairman of the Friends board Sara Ray has also known Keeton for more than 30 years. She thanked Keeton for advocating for Friends and Batson Children's Hospital. Speaking to the crowd, she told Keeton, "It was truly our honor and our pleasure to honor you because of your support," Ray said. 

Earlier in 2015, Keeton stepped down from his position as vice chancellor. In that role, he led the Medical Center through five challenging years, including an economic recession and the rollout of the national health-care law. The Columbus native, who recently turned 75, currently serves as Distinguished Professor of Surgery/Pediatrics and Advisor to the Vice Chancellor of UMMC. 

"The majority of his career was spent serving a very special group of children and there is no finer way, no better way, no more appropriate way to honor that lifetime of service than by this chair of pediatric urology named for him," said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. "And there's no finer individual to hold that chair than Dr. Ed Harmon." 

Harmon, professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Pediatric Urology, completed residency training at UMMC in surgery/urology, but spent the majority of his career in New Orleans on the faculty of Tulane University Medical School and as chief of surgery and associate medical director for surgical services at Children's Hospital of New Orleans. 

After receiving the medal from Woodward and Keeton, Harmon conveyed how humbled he was by the honor and joked, "This is my Academy Award."

He recounted the events that led to his return to the Medical Center in 2007, saying "I'm a great believer that God directs us if we just let him direct us."

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To test, or not to test?

When movie star Angelina Jolie faced head-on her family history of cancer and sought genetic testing that led her to preventive removal of her breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes, she was hailed by many as courageous and forward-thinking. 

Jolie has a mutation in a breast cancer gene that leads to a significant increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer, one that makes her a no-brainer candidate for genetic counseling and testing. She lost her mother, grandmother and aunt to ovarian cancer, and her mother also had breast cancer. 

But just because you fear - or wonder - if you're likely to fall victim to cancer or another serious disease, or pass it on to your kids, that doesn't mean you should undergo genetic testing, experts say. 

"You shouldn't do it if there's not a strong reason for it," said Dr. Omar Rahman, a University of Mississippi Medical Center geneticist and professor of pediatrics. "You might find a change that is actually benign, but it could lead to patient anxiety." 

According to the National Institutes of Health Genetic Registry, there are 26,000 genetic tests for 5,400 conditions. Testing involves collection of blood samples and can run between $1,000 and $2,000, and it's not always covered by insurance, Rahman said.

He cites two core reasons to see a genetic counselor and possibly get tested: A family history of cancer or other diseases that are genetically passed on, or the onset of cancer or another serious disease much earlier than it's usually seen, especially breast cancer in women under 50.

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To test, or not to test?

Original UMMC faculty member dies

Original UMMC faculty member dies

Dr. Fred Allison, Jr. of Nashville, Tennessee, professor of medicine emeritus at Vanderbilt University and an original faculty member of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, died May 8.

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Presentations by UCLA scientist, German researcher top week's events

A number of interesting events is scheduled for the upcoming week at the Medical Center.

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Presentations by UCLA scientist, German researcher top week's events
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