June 22, 2017

Dismukes, ‘role model to all,’ passes away

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The UAB School of Medicine has lost a beloved colleague and an incomparable role model in William E. “Bill” Dismukes, M.D., MACP. He died June 19 at age 78.

SuccessorsFrom left: William Dismukes, Lisa Willett and Gustavo Heudebert

Dr. Dismukes’ remarkable impact reverberates throughout the School of Medicine, where he wore many mantles of leadership during his 35 years of service to the school. He was the second director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and vice chair for the Department of Medicine, serving twice as its interim chair. Perhaps his greatest legacy rests in his two decades as director of the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program. While in this role from 1981-2002, he trained and helped shape the minds of over 500 physicians — nearly 1 percent of the internists between ages 45-65 who practice in the U.S. today.

“He was my program director, and I will forever be grateful that I was one of his chief residents,” said Lisa Willett, M.D., program director of the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program. “He was a role model to all, and he shaped the professional and personal lives of many of us.”

As a professor of both medicine and microbiology, Dr. Dismukes was recognized for his extraordinary gift to inspire his students and colleagues. They voted him Best Clinical Professor, Best Clinical Teacher in the Department of Medicine, and the Department of Medicine Top 10 Teacher. In 2001, the American College of Physicians named him the Master Teacher and Laureate. Four years later, the Infectious Diseases Society of America gave him the Maxwell Finland Award.

Dr. Dismukes’ impact carried over to the scholarly world, where he published more than 300 articles about infectious diseases in distinguished peer-reviewed journals. His research focused on systemic fungal infections and endocarditis. He was also a co-editor on a highly respected mycology textbook, “Clinical Mycology.”

He was a member of many prestigious professional organizations, including the American Academy of Microbiology, American Association of Physicians, American Clinical and Climatological Association, American College of Physicians, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Southern Society of Clinical Investigation.

“We lost a giant in Bill,” said William J. Koopman, M.D., distinguished professor and chair emeritus of the Department of Medicine. “He was a remarkable leader at many levels. An accomplished clinician and clinical investigator, Bill’s devotion to teaching was always paramount. His commitment to excellence, integrity, wry humor, and ever-present collegiality will always stand out in my mind. He touched many lives in his many roles.”

Dr. Dismukes’ memorial service will be held June 26 at 3 p.m. at Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, with visitation to follow in the church parlor.

Memorial contributions can be made in Dr. Dismukes’ honor to the William E. Dismukes Endowed Professorship in Infectious Diseases.