Dallas Doctor Wins TMA’s Highest Honor for 2015

May 2, 2015  

2015 DSA SeldinDonald Wayne Seldin, MD, a Dallas physician and chair emeritus of internal medicine at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School (UT-Southwestern), has been honored with the 2015 Texas Medical Association (TMA) Distinguished Service Award. He received TMA’s top honor today during TexMed,the association’s annual conference in Austin. TMA’s Board of Councilors ethics body selected him for the award. 

“I feel highly honored to receive the Distinguished Service Award of the Texas Medical Association,” said Dr. Seldin, an internist and nephrologist. The 62-year member of TMA and the Dallas County Medical Society added, “I regard this award not only as a tribute to my own contributions, but also a recognition of the achievements and performance of my students, house-staff, and fellows. They have distinguished our institution academically and clinically. The award surely gives due recognition to this achievement.”

Dr. Seldin was born in New York City in 1920, the child of an immigrant and first-generation American. After his family lost its savings in the Great Depression, Dr. Seldin worked a variety of jobs to help support his family, including grocery delivery boy, ballroom dancing instructor, and theater usher for the New York Paramount.

When he entered Yale Medical School in 1940, World War II had broken out overseas. “I was in the army while in medical school,” said Dr. Seldin. “I was in uniform, and we marched. Exactly how this would play out was a matter of great uncertainty.”

After medical school, he was sent to Munich, Germany, just as the war was ending. There, he became chief of the medical service, and even testified as an expert witness against a Nazi physician from the Dachau concentration camp.

After completing his army service, Dr. Seldin returned to the United States and began his decades-long career as a medical instructor, first in the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale, and then as an associate professor and later chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at UT-Southwestern. He has been called “the intellectual father of UT-Southwestern.”

“During his 37 years as chairman at UT-Southwestern, Dr. Seldin built one of the three or four strongest departments of medicine in the world,” said Dan L. Locker, MD, chair of TMA’s Board of Councilors. “When Seldin became chairman of the Department of Medicine in 1952, he was its only full-time member. When he stepped down in 1987, the medical faculty was 125 times larger. At the same time, he was a highly productive researcher and one of the world’s finest medical statesmen.”

“We’re proud of the medical school; we’re proud of the institution,” Dr. Seldin said of UT-Southwestern. “We’re proud of the faculty and students who have emerged here and conferred upon us a great deal of dignity.”

Dr. Seldin taught thousands of medical students and residents, many of whom have made exceptional contributions to medicine. One of his past students is Joseph Goldstein, MD, who received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1985 jointly with Michael Brown, MD, who refers to Dr. Seldin as “my hero.”

“Treat all patients with respect and dignity and with equal value,” Dr. Seldin’s students recall him saying frequently during his teaching sessions. “Good care is not good enough. It must be great care.”

Dr. Seldin is no stranger to leadership roles, honors, and awards. He served as president of seven professional associations and has six honorary doctorates from universities. In addition to TMA’s Distinguished Service Award, Dr. Seldin has been awarded the Kober Medal from the Association of American Physicians; the John P. Peters Award from the American Society of Nephrology; the David M. Hume Award from the National Kidney Foundation; the Distinguished Teacher Award from the American College of Physicians; the Robert H. Williams Distinguished Chairman of Medicine Award from the Association of Professors of Medicine; and the Volhard Medal of the German Society of Nephrology.

He has three children with his first wife, Muriel Goldberg, who passed away in 1994. In 1998, he married Ellen Taylor, MD. At 94 years old, Dr. Seldin remains active in teaching and writing.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 48,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.  

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Contact:  Steve Levine (512) 370-1380; Cell: (512) 750-0971; e-mail: steve.levine[at]texmed[dot]org

Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; Cell: (512) 656-7320; e-mail: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org

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March 21, 2018

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