"Be worthy to Serve the Suffering" Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society Key Background

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National Office
12635 E. Montview Blvd., Suite 270
Aurora, CO 80045
P: (720) 859-4149
F: (720) 859-4158
E: info@alphaomegaalpha.org

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Robert Joy Glaser, MD, 1918-2012

Robert Joy Glaser, MD, Executive Secretary of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and editor of The Pharos from 1962 through 1997, died in his home in Palo Alto, California, in June following a period of declining health. He was ninety-three.

Dr. Glaser was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, attended Harvard College for his undergraduate degree, and received his MD, magna cum laude, from Harvard Medical School in 1943. He returned to St. Louis for his residency at Washington University School of Medicine, where he met medical student Helen Hofsommer, who soon became his wife. Dr. Glaser was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha as an alumni member of Harvard in 1953.

Dr. Glaser held academic leadership positions at Washington University (1945–1957), the University of Colorado School of Medicine (1957–1962), Harvard Medical School (1963–1965), and Stanford University School of Medicine (1965–1970). After leaving Stanford, Dr. Glaser led The Commonwealth Fund, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust.

He was involved nationally in medical education through the Association of American Medical Colleges and service on the National Advisory Committee on Higher Education; he was a founding member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Medicine. He received many awards in his lifetime, including the Abraham Flexner Medal for Distinguished Service to Medical Education, the Stearns Award for Lifetime Achievement in Medicine from the New York Academy of Medicine, and the Harvard Medal for Distinguished Service. The AΩA Distinguished Teacher Award is named for Dr. Glaser.

Dr. Glaser became executive secretary (the position is now called executive director) of Alpha Omega Alpha in 1962. For the next thirty-five years, he and his wife Helen, who was managing editor of The Pharos until her death in 1999, worked to promote the society and its goals.

I first met Bob when I was the head of the Section of General Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago and he was leading the Kaiser Family Foundation. He was very supportive of the new academic movement in general medicine and provided grant support for our new programs. Bob became one of my mentors and continued his support of our push to raise the academic standards of medicine when I moved to the University of Colorado, where he had been dean of the school of medicine. I served on the AΩA board of directors at Bob’s request from 1990 through 1997. In 2009, inspired by Bob’s devotion and leadership of Alpha Omega Alpha, I applied for the position of Executive Director of AΩA, and was fortunate to be appointed in 2010. I continued to see Bob at his home in Palo Alto until shortly before his death.

Bob cared deeply about medicine, medical education, and the role of AΩA in working for the best in medicine and our professional values. He was a dear friend, mentor, and inspirational leader and person. We will miss him but are grateful for all he contributed to medicine.

Richard L. Byyny, MD, FACS
Executive Director, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society

To our readers: Please send your reminiscences about Dr. Glaser to us. We have devoted a page on our web site to them. E-mail: info@alphaomegaalpha.org. Mail: 12635 E. Montview Blvd., Suite 270, Aurora, CO 80045.

Updated on July 19, 2017.