A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

In Memoriam


Alan D. Podis, MD, 92, died Dec. 1, 2022. He was a clinical assistant professor emeritus of surgery (urology) at Brown. Dr. Podis grew up in Cleveland, and earned degrees from Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University.

After training in urology and surgery at Indiana University and the University of Rochester, he served three years in the Army as a physician and surgeon. He joined Brown’s faculty in 1998 and taught urology for 16 years at Rhode Island Hospital and the Providence VA Medical Center.

In 2012, residents and students honored him with the first of a newly established annual award: the Alan D. Podis Teaching Award. He loved to teach and did so until age 87. The years of academic practice with Brown’s medical faculty and the fine physicians of University Urological Associates were the most rewarding and satisfying of his professional career.

He leaves his wife of 44 years, Donna Everett-Podis; three children; and eight grandchildren. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Dr. Alan D. Podis Education Fund, The Miriam Hospital Foundation, PO Box H, Providence, RI 02901, which supports urology residents or fellows in their research, conferences, and other related activities; or the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music

James K. Sullivan RES’93, MD, PhD, P’19MD’23, 70, died Dec. 25, 2022. He was a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown; executive chief of psychiatry and senior vice president of Care New England Health System; chief medical officer of Butler Hospital; and chief of psychiatry at Women & Infants Hospital.

Born in Hartford, CT, Dr. Sullivan earned his bachelor’s at Fairfield University, a PhD in biology at Wesleyan University, and his medical degree at the University of Connecticut. He completed his residency in psychiatry at Brown, where he was a chief resident.

Dr. Sullivan was a consummate academic physician, excelling in his roles as a clinician, teacher, and administrator. He received the Prattle Excellence in Teaching Award from Brown and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Exemplary Psychiatrist Award in 2017. A past president of Butler Hospital’s Medical Staff Association, he received the Robert J. Westlake Award for Physician Excellence in 2013.

The most important thing in Dr. Sullivan’s life was his family. He is survived by his wife, Mary; two children, including Luke Sullivan ’19 MD’23; two grandchildren; two sisters; aunt; mother-in-law; and many nieces, nephews, friends, colleagues, and patients. Donations in his memory may be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, pulmonaryfibrosis.org.

Mary Lekas, MD, DSc, 94, died Jan. 24. She was a clinical professor emerita of surgery at Brown, the first female professor of clinical otolaryngology, and a trailblazer for women in medicine.

Dr. Lekas grew up in Worcester, MA, and earned degrees from Clark University, Boston University, and the University of Athens Medical School. She completed her residency training at Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Rhode Island Hospital, and the University of Pennsylvania. practicing otolaryngologist specializing in head and neck surgery, she was the first woman to head the otolaryngology department at Rhode Island Hospital, as surgeon-in-chief from 1983 until she retired in 1996. Fondly known as “Dr. Mary,” she was the first woman on the East Coast to become a fellow in the Triological Society, and the first woman elected president of the New England Otolaryngological Society. She was named Rhode Island’s Woman Physician of the Year; received the President’s citation from the Triological Society; and, after her retirement, was honored by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Foundation and the American Broncho-Esophagological Association. In 2007, she established The Mary D. Lekas Fund for the Advancement of Women in Medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School.

Dr. Lekas was predeceased by her husband of 31 years, Harold Picozzi. She is survived by many nieces, nephews, and godchildren; her caregiver and companion, Judy Antonelli; and her dear friend Thomas M. Dolan, Esq. Gifts in her memory may be made to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Dr. Mary Despina Lekas Endowment Fund, www.annunciationri.org.

John J. DiGiovanna, MD, 72, died Feb. 6. He was a professor of dermatology at Brown for 13 years. Born and raised in Queens, NY, Dr. DiGiovanna earned his bachelor’s at SUNY Stony Brook and his medical degree at SUNY Upstate Medical Center, and completed his residency at the University of Miami. In addition to clinical practice, he was a senior research physician at the National Cancer Institute, studying inherited skin disorders, particularly those causing skin cancer. He was involved in pioneering studies of use of oral retinoids (Accutane) for treatment of acne and prevention of skin cancer. Dr. DiGiovanna was the head of the Dermatology Clinical Research Unit in the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and was a long-term consultant to several divisions of the Federal Drug Administration over three decades.

Dr. DiGiovanna joined Brown’s faculty in 1997, where he was the director of dermatopharmacology and an investigator on more than 70 clinical trials. He co-authored more than 200 scientific articles and dozens of book chapters and a book, lectured at national and international conferences, and was a well-respected member of several dermatology societies. He was a profoundly dedicated and exacting medical researcher committed to nurturing young scientists and physicians, and an outstanding role model.

He is survived by his husband of 32 years, Julian Trail; his brother and two sisters; many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews; and close friends and colleagues whom he considered family. Donations in his memory may be made to the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types, www.firstskinfoundation.org, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of
Washington, www.gmcw.org.


Comments are closed.