By John Carruthers, staff writer, November 01, 2011
Soon after finishing his dermatology residency, New York dermatologist David Biro, MD, PhD, was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening blood disease, for which he eventually underwent a bone marrow transplant. The anxiety-filled experience, paired with the loss of one of his close friends due to cancer, led him to focus his teaching and volunteer efforts on providing support systems for patients with serious illness. As a founding board member of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation a nonprofit named after his late friend Dr. Biro helps to provide grants for relatives of cancer patients to cover their travel, accommodations, and related expenses so they can provide emotional support during treatment.
Dr. Biro has written about his transplant in the New York Times Magazine, as well as in a memoir, One Hundred Days: My Unexpected Journey from Doctor to Patient. He has also written two books about empathizing with patient suffering. His work has received glowing reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, the New York Times Book Review, and the Chicago Tribune.
“The most important thing you can do is in some way personalize the situation. Think back to when you were a patient. Remember the feelings of anxiety and embarrassment.”
- In addition to his practice and nonprofit duties, Dr. Biro lectures first-year medical students at SUNY Downstate on the importance of patient-centered care, and also teaches a course on humanistic medicine to fourth-year students.
- “Today, we have a lot of diseases that aren’t solvable. Even cancer can be a chronic disease for some people. If that’s the case, there’s got to be more that we can offer patients,” he said. “That’s where being more attuned, more receptive to the needs of patients, over and above the physical issues or the narrow needs of the specific disease, are very important. It can make us better doctors.”
To nominate a physician, visit www.aad.org/membersmakingadifference