In a moving address to an audience of family members, UMSOM faculty and staff, and distinguished invited guests, Charles Hong, MD, PhD, echoed a theme that was heard throughout the ceremony of his investiture as the Melvin Sharoky, MD, Professor of Medicine: “Courage, Hope and Faith.”
“My parents always taught me to have courage, hope and faith,” he said. “When they decided to come to the United States from Korea when they were in their 40s, that took a lot of courage. They had hope that life in will be better, and faith in God and that their new country will treat them and their young son with fairness.” Those early years growing up in Detroit were not always easy, but he learned about “courage, hope and faith” first-hand from his parents.
Hong went on to graduate first from MIT, and later earned his MD-PhD from Yale Medical School where he was the top graduating student in the program. He then completed his internal medicine residency at Yale, and went on to complete his cardiology fellowship at Mass General Hospital, before teaching at Harvard Medical School. He was later recruited to Vanderbilt and co-Directed the Center for Inherited Heart Disease and chaired the Accelerating Drug Re-Purposing Incubator before coming to the UMSOM. He has received numerous awards during his career for his unique research at the intersection of developmental biology, chemical biology stem cell biology human genetics and cardiovascular medicine.
“We are so fortunate to have brought someone of Dr. Hong’s stature as one of the leading physician/scientist/ entrepreneurs in the nation-- to the UMSOM,” said Dean E. Albert Reece in introducing Dr. Hong. “We are also fortunate to have an alumnus and board member, Dr. Mel Sharoky, to make this generous endowment.”
Dr. Sharoky, a 1976 graduate of the UMSOM and current member of the UMSOM Board of Visitors, has been a successful entrepreneur and leader in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 25 years.
The ceremony was hosted by Dean Reece, along with Stephen N. Davis, MBBS, the Dr. Theodore E. Woodward Chair of Medicine. Dr. Davis described Dr. Hong as the classic “triple threat” faculty member who excels in research, teaching and service. “He truly understands both the art and science of medicine,” Dr. Davis said. He noted that Dr. Hong had mentored dozens of students during his career.
Among the speakers at the ceremony were two distinguished faculty members who were mentors to Dr. Hong: Myron L. Weisfeldt, MD, Professor Medicine and Past Chair of Medicine and Director of Cardiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; and Carl Hashimoto, PhD, Senior Advisor for Faculty Development at the National Institutes of Health and Professor of Emeritus of Cell Biology, Yale University. The third speaker was T.K. Feaster, PhD, Principal Investigator at the U.S. Food and drug Administration, who was Dr. Hong’s first graduate student.
All of the speakers spoke emphatically about Dr. Hong’s tremendous mentoring ability. “When you look up the word ‘mentor’ in the dictionary, you see a picture of Dr. Hong!,” Dr. Davis exclaimed.
For Dr. Hong’s part, he talked about mentoring using his familiar theme: “When a mentor has faith in you, it gives you both hope and courage.” That is what my mentors did for me and that is what I always try to do for those I am mentoring.”
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and more than $540 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu