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20th Annual Lecture Honors Former Chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

boynton-lecture-2019-1On October 16, Feinberg’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation welcomed Michelle Gittler, MD, ’92 GME, to deliver the 20th Annual Ben L. Boynton, MD Lecture.

Dr. Boynton, who graduated from Northwestern’s medical school in 1937, served as the third chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the medical school and the first medical director of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (now the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab). The lecture was established by members of the Boynton family to honor his legacy, memory, and achievements in his field.

“Dr. Boynton especially valued teaching, mentoring students, and the contributions and activities of national organizations,” said Elliot Roth, ’82 MD, ’85 ’86 GME, chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Paul B. Magnuson Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine. “A big recurring theme in his career was advancing the specialty of medical rehabilitation, and we are all beneficiaries of his work and very grateful to him for that.”

Dr. Gittler delivered a lecture entitled “Advocacy as a Core Competency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation” to a large group of physicians and trainees at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

“As a resident [at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago] I had the realization that … being the best doctor for patients meant being the cheerleader for the first step, the ability to propel a wheelchair independently, the upgrade in diet, the ability to perform an independent transfer,” explained Dr. Gittler, who is medical director, chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and director of the Residency Training Program at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital in Chicago.

From left to right: Lynn Boynton, ’62 MD; his wife Jacqueline; Michelle Gittler, MD, ’92 GME; and Elliot Roth, ’82 MD, ’85 ’86 GME, chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

“The best doctors knew about their patients’ families, their homes, what they liked to do, the music they liked, the foods they abhorred. [Being the best doctor] meant advocating for the individual patient because you knew them,” she said, before describing the role of physicians in patient advocacy and specific opportunities for advocacy regionally, locally, and nationally.

Lynn Boynton, ’62 MD, one of Dr. Ben Boynton’s sons, attended the lecture with his wife Jacqueline and spoke to the crowd after the lecture.

“My father would have been cheering at this lecture. And if I reflect on my practice in Toledo, Ohio, for 30 years, the most successful memories that I have are the times when I stuck my neck out and advocated for somebody,” Dr. Lynn Boynton shared, before thanking Dr. Roth and event attendees and organizers for the inspirational lecture.

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For more information about supporting physical medicine and rehabilitation, please contact Jordan Sund at or (312) 503-2706.