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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

A Grateful Patient Honors His Doctor By Supporting the Global Health Initiative

Civic leader and philanthropist William Jentes and his family—wife Janet and daughter Justine—recently honored their long-time primary care physician, Byron Starr, MD, ’75 GMER, with a generous $500,000 gift that Dr. Starr has chosen to direct to the Global Health Initiative (GHI) fund at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“I know Byron has been a consistent advocate of the GHI’s role in medical service worldwide. From my personal perspective, he has played an important role in my own care for over three decades,” Mr. Jentes shared. “This gift expresses our family’s sincere appreciation and deep admiration for Byron’s many years of expert, responsive, and effective medical care.”

Through this donation to the GHI fund, three essential areas at the medical school will receive support including Feinberg’s education-centered medical home, a primary care clerkship where medical students help provide continuity of care by working at the same clinic, with the same patients, over their four years of school. The Jentes family gift also will support four-week elective rotations in rural areas of the United States that teach students about compassionate care in underserved areas nationally and will provide funding for Feinberg’s Institute for Global Health.

Dr. Byron Starr.

“The GHI allows students to follow through on their interests in serving the wider world,” said Dr. Starr, who is a clinical instructor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at Feinberg. “This experience also reinforces to students the importance of the basics—listening and thinking and examining patients—rather than relying on the high technology that they’re likely to see at a big academic medical center.”

That wasn’t the only reason Dr. Starr directed the Jentes’s gift to the GHI fund and, especially, the education-centered medical home, which reminds him of the free clinic he helped start in Indianapolis while a medical student at the Indiana University in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“By seeing patients in a longitudinal system, students come to understand how important the doctor-patient relationship is,” said Dr. Starr. “I’ve cared for Mr. Jentes for almost 40 years. He and I exemplify the trusting and collaborative relationship that a doctor and a patient can have  over a long period of time—it turns into a friendship really.”

Dr. Starr noted how grateful he is for the gift from Mr. Jentes—a wonderful surprise, he said—and the opportunity to apply it to an area of the medical school that he feels is important.

“As our medical students see patients one-on-one here in Chicago and in countries around the world, they will not only appreciate that doctor-patient relationship, but also begin to identify as doctors for the first time,” Dr. Starr added.

Hopefully, those medical students will one day touch their patients as much as Dr. Starr has his. 

“Dr. Starr has invariably found time to see me and other family members when illness or injury has struck; he has always listened carefully to what was afflicting us, has patiently explained treatment options and his recommendations, and then followed through to assure a cure resulted,” Mr. Jentes said. “In short, Byron epitomizes the finest qualities of a compassionate personal caregiver, on whom our entire family relies completely and who has become a true friend to all.”

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For more information about supporting the Global Health Initiative, please contact Tiffany Scaparotti at or (312) 503-3088.