Stanford Doctor Works to Get Medical Relief to Iraq's
STANFORD, Calif., Jul 10, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- When he looked
at one small accident victim--a boy shot in the head by his
brother--Robert Norris, MD, saw the need for emergency medical
care for the people of Iraq. And it is urgent.
"The scene was just chaotic," said Norris, who saw the boy,
surrounded by distraught family members, among hundreds of
others waiting for care in the casualty units in the Sulaymaniya
Emergency Hospital in northern Iraq. Unconscious, wrapped
haphazardly in a colorful blanket, he'd been rushed to the
hospital by his family. "Not much was being done for him. The
outcome probably wasn't going to be good."
In a country daily beset by conflict and trauma, Iraq has a
severe lack of emergency medical care. With limited ambulance
service, no 911 system and no paramedics, many Iraqis die
preventable deaths while waiting for care or en route to
"There's a lot to be done," said Norris, associate professor of
emergency medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. He
was one of four U.S. emergency medicine experts flown to
northern Iraq recently as part of a fact-finding mission and
early training team. Their goal is to help set up a formal
emergency medicine training program for Iraqi health
professionals for the first time in that nation's history. "The
past regime was not conducive to medical training," he said.
Patients, like the boy with a bullet lodged in his brain,
usually arrive at hospitals by taxi or car. They are then
transferred to stretchers and taken to casualty wards where they
await another transfer to an appropriate ward before getting
"There's a lot of moving around before getting care," Norris
said. "They need a system to be able to do triage, to get
patients to the most appropriate care as quickly as possible."
During the two-week trip in February to northern Iraq, Norris
taught a medical course in airway management to a group of about
50 Iraqi physicians and toured eight hospitals. The program,
held in the city of Erbil, was a joint effort put together by
the Medical Alliance for Iraq, a volunteer group of western
doctors that joined forces with the International Medical Corps,
a non-profit group that's been working to improve medical care
in Iraq since 2003. Funding came from both the U.S. government's
State Department and the Iraqi government.
In addition to Norris, the other three U.S. emergency medicine
experts were Craig Manifold, MD, chief of emergency services at
Southeast Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas; Gregory Luke
Larkin, MD, professor of surgery and vice chair of emergency
medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, and Ross
Donaldson, MD, UC-Los Angeles medical professor and global
"Twenty-five years ago, Iraq had the premiere health care system
in the Middle East," said Mike Brennan, MD, a South Carolina
ophthalmologist who recruited the 50 or so volunteer doctors who
make up the Medical Alliance for Iraq, including Norris. "During
Saddam's regime, it was cut off from the outside world and fell
way behind on technology. You couldn't get in or out of the
country for education. Then, in the last five years with the
war, it's been hit from all sides."
In an effort to bring educational aid to Iraqi physicians,
Brennan said the Medical Alliance for Iraq approached the Iraqi
ministers of health to see what training was needed most. Their
list started with high-risk obstetrics, pediatric infectious
disease, psychiatry and emergency medicine.
"The infrastructure of emergency medicine in Iraq is in
shambles," Brennan said. "They don't have graduate or residency
training in Iraq. They need everything from ambulances to triage
to getting nurses involved."
Emergency medicine is a relatively new concept to the Middle
East. The Arab Society of Trauma and Emergency Medicine was
started in 2002, but few countries have well-trained emergency
medicine specialists, according to a report on the project
published by the working group that organized at the meeting. As
a result, death from trauma, cardiovascular emergencies and
other treatable conditions such as asthma are much higher in the
Middle East than other countries with emergency medicine
In Iraq, the war has compounded the problems.
The four U.S. doctors traveled by motorcade, touring northern
Iraq hospitals joined by both the Iraqi minister of health,
Saleh Hasnawi, MD, and the Kurdish minister of health Zryan
Othman, MD. Hasnawi had recently reported the results of the
"Iraq Family Health Survey" which estimates there were 151,000
violence-related Iraqi deaths from 2003 to 2006.
"It seems to most of us, that if anywhere in the world deserves
a good emergency system, it should be Iraq," wrote Donaldson,
the UCLA professor and physician on the mission.
Norris and the other three U.S. doctors plan to return to Iraq
in December, visiting Baghdad as the next step toward helping to
set up an official emergency medicine training program.
"I was impressed by how warm and open the Iraqi physicians
were," Norris said. "They were incredibly appreciative that we
wanted to help rebuild their health care system, which I guess
at one time was phenomenal. With Saddam, it crumbled to nothing.
They're just hungry for access to knowledge, and any help they
can get to better care for their patients."
Wolfgang Panofsky, renowned
Stanford physicist and arms control advocate, dead at 88
Wolfgang K. H. "Pief" Panofsky, professor of physics at Stanford
University and director emeritus of the Stanford Linear Accelerator
Center (SLAC), died of a heart attack at his home in Los Altos,
Calif., Monday, Sept. 24. He was 88 years old.
Panofsky was a renowned particle physics researcher, an
accelerator builder and an administrator of basic research. In
parallel with his science career, he pursued two other interests of
interrelated historical significance: nuclear arms control and
international peace and security.
"Pief Panofsky's contributions to SLAC and the field of physics
have certainly earned him a place in Stanford's pantheon of
scholars. But it is equally important to note that his work on
nuclear arms control earned him a reputation not just as a scientist
but as a patriot whose life will continue to influence and inspire
us for generations to come," said Stanford Provost John Etchemendy.
Panofsky was awarded many honors during his lifetime, most
notably the National Medal of Science in 1969 and the U.S.
Department of Energy's Enrico Fermi Award in 1979.
Born in Berlin April 24, 1919, the son of famed art historian
Erwin Panofsky, he arrived in the United States in 1934 and became a
naturalized citizen in 1942. He graduated from Princeton University
in 1938, received his PhD in physics from the California Institute
of Technology in 1942 and served as consultant to the Manhattan
Project, helping build the first atomic bomb during World War II.
In 1945 Panofsky began work as a staff physicist at the Radiation
Laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley and was named
associate professor of physics in 1948. In 1951 he joined Stanford
as a full professor, directing its High-Energy Physics Laboratory
until 1961. When a major new project to build a 2-mile linear
electron accelerator began in 1961, Panofsky assumed its leadership
and became the first director of SLAC, a post he held until retiring
At Berkeley, Panofsky and physicist Jack Steinberger were the
first to isolate the neutral pi meson, one of the subatomic
particles predicted by theorists to account for the strong force
binding atomic nuclei. While at Stanford, he led a series of
experiments that used high-energy electrons and photons to examine
the structure and behavior of the proton.
Panofsky was a member of the President's Science Advisory
Committee in the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He
advised the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of
Energy on their nuclear weapons and arms control programs. In the
1980s, he was an outspoken critic of the "Star Wars" anti-missile
program. After his retirement, he was an active member of the
National Academy of Sciences' Committee on International Security
and Arms Control, serving as its chairman from 1985 to 1993.
Panofsky was a fellow of the American Physical Society and served
as its president in 1974. He was also a member of the National
Academy of Sciences as well as a foreign member of the Chinese,
French, Italian and Russian scientific academies.
"The world has lost a truly great man," added Persis Drell,
acting director of SLAC. "Pief's impact on particle physics was
enormous, but, in addition, everyone will remember him for his
unflinching integrity, personal warmth and desire to fight for the
principles he believed in."
Panofsky is survived by his wife, Adele, and five children:
Richard, Margaret, Edward, Carol and Steven. Memorial service plans