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Release: Nov. 11, 2002

UI pediatrics professor wins AAMC Humanism in Medicine Award

For years of working with fragile premature babies and mentoring medical students, a professor in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine has received a major humanism award.

Edward Bell, M.D., UI professor of pediatrics and director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children's Hospital of Iowa, received the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Humanism in Medicine Award Nov. 9 at the AAMC annual conference in San Francisco.

The award annually honors a medical school faculty physician who embodies the finest qualities as a teacher of healing and exemplifies humanism in medicine, according to the AAMC. Nominations are based on five defining characteristics of humanism in medical education: positive mentoring skills, collaboration, compassion and sensitivity, community service activity and observance of professional ethics.

"Dr. Bell has been the leader here in our care for preterm babies," said Frank Morriss, M.D., UI professor and head of pediatrics. "He highly values every human life."

Bell's clinical work focuses on newborn intensive care and the post-discharge care of medically fragile babies in the NICU. He was nominated for the AAMC award by Felix Chau, a third-year UI medical student and the college’s representative to the AAMC Organization of Student Representatives.

The national recognition follows local appreciation for Bell. Last year, he won the UI Carver College's Faculty Humanism in Medicine Award after being nominated by his colleague, John Widness, M.D., UI professor of pediatrics.

"From the onset, Dr. Bell recognized the importance of the prenatal counseling program for families, led the effort to make it happen and continues to oversee its steady improvement," Widness said. "He has dedicated himself so consistently and skillfully to preparing families for what lies ahead at delivery."

More than 10 years ago, Bell helped establish the NICU prenatal consultation service at the UI for pregnant women and their families. He also co-founded "The Parent Connection," a parent support group, in the early 1990s. Under Bell's leadership, "The Parent Connection" and the NICU nursing staff organize NICU graduate reunions and annual memorial services.

"I am deeply honored and humbled to be chosen to receive this award," Bell said. "I owe much to the role models I have had throughout my career, to my physician colleagues in the Division of Neonatology, to the highly competent and compassionate nurses and others with whom I work in the Special Care Nurseries, and to my patients' parents who wrote such kind words in support of my nomination."

In addition to providing extensive support to families, Bell also helps train UI medical students, pediatrics residents and neonatology fellows through one-on-one student-teacher relationships.

A UI faculty member since 1979, Bell earned his medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in neonatology.

His research interests include thermal physiology, fluid and electrolyte balance, energy metabolism, and anemia and transfusion practices in preterm infants.

Bell also has been involved in volunteer medical relief and teaching projects in a number of countries, including Romania, Lithuania, Portugal and Russia, to help local medical teams learn improved methods and approaches to newborn care.

Bell is the fourth annual recipient of the AAMC Humanism in Medicine Award, which is co-sponsored by the AAMC and the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative.

The Association of American Medical Colleges represents the 125 accredited U.S. medical schools, the 16 accredited Canadian medical schools and 400 major teaching hospitals.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.