Table of Contents
McGovern's Death a Loss to Educational and Health Care Communities
John P. McGovern, M.D., 85, a noted Houston scholar, physician and benefactor of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, among many other institutions, died May 31.
“The passing of Dr. John McGovern is the true passing of an era,” said James T. Willerson, M.D., president of the UT Health Science Center. “His inspiring leadership, his humanitarian vision, his never ending generosity, and his legacy of caring and excellence will live on through the many people who receive care from all that he motivated and supported. The name of John McGovern will endure and inspire through generations yet unborn. We have been truly blessed that he was among us.”
McGovern was born in Washington, D.C. He earned his bachelor’s and medical degrees at Duke University and was a lifelong follower of Duke baseball and basketball. Certified in both pediatrics and allergy, McGovern completed postgraduate training at Yale University School of Medicine, Duke University Hospital, Guy’s Hospital in London, L’Hopital des Enfants Malades in Paris, Children’s Hospital of the District of Columbia and Boston Children’s Hospital.
Largest Clinic of its Kind
At the prompting of one of his former Duke professors, McGovern moved to Houston in 1956 and joined the faculty of The University of Texas and Baylor College of Medicine. He opened the McGovern Allergy and Asthma Clinic, which rapidly became the largest specialty clinic of its kind in the U.S. He retired from the clinic in 1986 but stayed on as a consultant through 1991.
Deciding to share the success of his clinic and other business investments, McGovern established the John P. McGovern Foundation in 1961 with a modest $10,000. In 2005, that foundation was valued at nearly $200 million and has endowed 26 annual award lectureships at universities in Texas and throughout the country, as well as numerous scholarships and faculty positions (see “McGovern Legacy”).
The Calling of Patient Care
“Dr. McGovern was a friend and mentor,” said Bryant Boutwell, Dr.P.H., who holds the John P. McGovern, M.D. Professorship in Oslerian Medicine. The two worked closely on many projects, including co-authoring a history of the UT Medical School at Houston, published in 1999. “He was a physician/scientist who understood and lived the calling of patient care and service. Like the great physician, Sir William Osler, he was humanistic in approach and treated the person, not just the disease.
“He came to Houston in 1956 to make a difference and gave back in so many ways. It would be impossible to live in Houston today and not benefit in some way from John P. McGovern. He will be dearly missed and leaves a legacy that will not be forgotten,” Boutwell said.
At the time of his death, McGovern held 17 professorships at 15 universities. He was the author or co-author of 252 publications, including 26 books. He served on several national boards, including a four-year appointment to the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine and the National Advisory Council of the Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for the National Institutes of Health.
He received numerous awards and accolades, including President Reagan’s Private Sector Initiative Commendation for “his lifetime of meritorious service in medicine and generous voluntary contributions to his community.”
When McGovern was establishing an endowed professorship at the UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, he and Dean George M. Stancel, Ph.D., agreed that “its purpose was not to support an individual or special area of research,” Stancel said, “but rather for use by the dean, who was likely to have a broad perspective for the entire school and where the funds could have the greatest impact.”
UT Health Science Center President Willerson and the deans of all six schools of the UT Health Science Center attended the memorial service June 7.
McGovern is survived by his wife, Katherine.
The late John P. McGovern, M.D., held appointments in all six schools at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. His contributions to the health science center over the years totaled $7.2 million, including the following endowments:
- Center – The John P. McGovern, M.D. Center for Health, Humanities, and the Human Spirit at the UT Medical School at Houston.
- Chair – The John P. McGovern, M.D. Chair in Medical Humanities, held by Thomas R. Cole, Ph.D.
- Distinguished Professorships – The John P. McGovern Distinguished Professorship in Nursing, Patricia L. Starck, D.S.N., and the John P. McGovern, M.D. Distinguished Professorship in Ophthalmology, Stephen L. Mills, Ph.D.
- Professorships – The John P. McGovern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Professorship, George M. Stancel, Ph.D.; the John P. McGovern Professorship in Addiction Nursing, Marianne T. Marcus, Ph.D.; the John P. McGovern Professorship in Health Promotion, Guy S. Parcel, Ph.D.; and the John P. McGovern, M.D. Professorship in Oslerian Medicine, Bryant Boutwell, Dr.P.H.
- Lectureship –The John P. McGovern Lectureship in Biomedical Computing and Imaging, UT School of Health Information Sciences at Houston.
- Awards – The John P. McGovern Award in Health Promotion, UT School of Public Health, and The John P. McGovern Outstanding Teaching Award, all six schools of the UT Health Science Center at Houston.
- Scholarship Fund – The Bryant Boutwell, Dr.P.H. and John P. McGovern, M.D. Medical Student Scholarship Fund.
A display from the John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center is currently on view until July 9 in the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center (HAM-TMC) Library. The McGovern Collection contains over 5,500 titles and focuses on the development of medical specialties in the late 19th and early 20th century. The books are cataloged in the HAM-TMC Library’s on-line catalog and are available for use in the Rare Book Room on the library’s second floor. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston is a governing institution of the HAM-TMC Library.
Previous story Next story