Roopal Vashi Kundu, MD, was formally invested as the Jacob R. Suker, MD, Professor of Medical Education on September 21 in a celebration at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago. Dr. Kundu also serves as associate professor of Dermatology and associate dean for Admissions at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Prior to her role as associate dean for Admissions, Dr. Kundu served as residency program director in the Department of Dermatology. She also founded the Northwestern Center for Ethnic Skin, which has provided focused clinical and surgical care, patient education, and clinical trials research since 2005.
Speaking about her new position as associate dean for Admissions and the Suker Professor, Dr. Kundu shared: “I am keenly aware of the great importance of this role…identifying future leaders in medicine, lifelong ambassadors of Feinberg, and, quite frankly, the physicians that will be taking care of all of us in this room one day. It is a tremendous responsibility that I am humbled to hold.”
“Roopal is so deserving of this professorship,” said Amy S. Paller, MD, the Walter J. Hamlin Professor of Dermatology, chair of Dermatology, and professor of Pediatrics, who served as Dr. Kundu’s official extoller. Dr. Paller quoted a resident in the Department of Dermatology, sharing: “I didn’t know how much I would miss Dr. Kundu until she announced she was moving to a greater role she so richly deserves. I will miss having her at the helm of our residency program, but know that in her new post, she will have a profound effect on many more medical trainees.”
Named and endowed professorships, like the Suker Professorship, are created in perpetuity and represent the highest honor a university can bestow upon its faculty. These academic positions are reserved for the most distinguished and productive physicians and scientists. The creation of professorships is enormously important as the medical school endeavors to double the research enterprise and rise in the competitive pantheon of research-intensive schools. These positions enable Northwestern to attract and recruit world-class investigators and to encourage their active collaboration with faculty at the medical school and across the campus.
A Legacy of Excellence in Medical Education
The Jacob R. Suker, MD, Professorship in Medical Education was established in honor of Jacob R. Suker, ’56 MD, a distinguished Northwestern medical school alumnus and faculty member. Dr. Suker attended Northwestern for his entire educational career, and went on to establish an integrated residency program at McGaw Medical Center. His success with this program led to his appointment first as assistant dean, and then associate dean for Medical Education. In this role, Dr. Suker was responsible for all graduate education and continuing medical education programs, and had a significant impact on scores of Northwestern medical trainees. He also served as team physician for the Chicago Cubs from 1962 to 1989.
Diane B. Wayne, MD, the Dr. Sherman Appleman Professor of Medicine and Medical Education, chair of the Department of Medical Education, and vice dean for Education, served as the evening’s emcee and acknowledged the Suker family, many of whom were able to attend. Mrs. Mary Suker, Dr. Suker’s widow, and their three daughters, Ann, Margot, and Jane, joined in the celebration.
“Learning more about Dr. Suker, I am struck by several similar threads in our life stories,” said Dr. Kundu. “We both received our undergraduate and medical education at Northwestern; we both started our academic careers in residency program leadership; and then Dr. Suker became the associate dean for Medical Education, making his permanent mark on the lives of hundreds of learners at Northwestern. This part of my story is just unfolding.”
A Star Clinician and Educator
Dr. Kundu’s clinical practice in dermatology is focused on the diagnosis and therapy of skin disorders that occur more frequently or adversely impact ethnic skin populations, specifically African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. Her clinical expertise focuses on pigmentary disorders, including vitiligo and melisma, and scarring disorders such as keloid scars.
In addition to her focus on ethnic skin disorders, Dr. Kundu has published in the fields of patient and medical education, which has provided her with national recognition among her peers and in media such as National Public Radio and the NBC national nightly news. Her work as residency program director in the Department of Dermatology helped to establish this training program as one of only five national academic programs integrating medicine and dermatology into a combined program.
“Roopal, today we honor you with the Suker Professorship,” said Dr. Paller. “In your new role as associate dean for Admissions, you will extend your talents toward strengthening the admissions process, and help to create an environment of excellence, diversity, and inclusion. We are so proud of all that you have accomplished and are so lucky to have you in our lives.”