The MGH Bicentennial Youth Scholars were recognized at the event.
From the presentation of a videotaped message from President Barack Obama to recognition of the Bicentennial Scholars, the Sept. 16 Bicentennial Gala celebrated the MGH's achievements over the past two centuries while highlighting its vision for the future. More than 1,000 staff, friends and honored guests filled the ballroom at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to commemorate the hospital's 200th anniversary. The gala also served as a benefit for the Bicentennial Scholars Program, raising approximately $1 million.
Across the large, multimedia screens flanking the ballroom, guests watched archival video of President John F. Kennedy congratulating the MGH on its 150th anniversary. Then the Tanglewood Festival Chorus performed "A Jubilant Song"; Chief of Emergency Medicine Alasdair Conn, MD, and Respiratory Care Director Robert Kacmarek, PhD, offered recitations from James Jackson, MD, and John Collins Warren, MD, founding fathers of the MGH; MGH President Peter L. Slavin, MD, reflected on this milestone moment in time; and Claudius Conrad, MD, PhD, MGH surgeon and Steinway artist, played Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude." Through a montage, of music, images and inspiring words, the MGH Bicentennial Gala saluted the sense of purpose and the tradition of accomplishment that have long defined the hospital.
"Just as Drs. Jackson and Warren had envisioned so many years ago, the MGH still stands as a symbol of healing and health, hope and promise," Slavin said. "The institution is dedicated to our patients and their loved ones and is a testament to our staff, donors, trustees and volunteers who have collectively built and guided it in the past and are now leading it into the future. It is because of them -- because of you -- that we look to the next two centuries with confidence, optimism, humility, gratitude and more than a little wonder."
Slavin's sentiment was echoed during a special videotaped message from Obama, congratulating the MGH as a true center of academic excellence. Personal remarks by keynote speaker and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, included reflections on his experience as an MGH patient over the past several decades. He expressed his gratitude, fondness and deep respect for his physicians -- W. Gerald Austen, MD, chair of the Chiefs' Council, and Roman DeSanctis, MD, director emeritus of Clinical Cardiology -- who escorted Kissinger onto the stage.
"I am absolutely honored to be here with you all this evening," said Kissinger. "You should celebrate and be proud that people come here from all over the world to seek care from MGH's experts and resources and that it is a magnet for young trainees in health care seeking a chance to learn from the best and brightest the medical field has to offer."
Visiting from China with a group of colleagues was Jianguang Xu, MD, PhD, who followed Kissinger at the podium. He eloquently spoke about sharing knowledge, ideas and working together across different countries and cultures to advance medical science in the new millennium. Xu then unveiled a traditional vessel from his native country, called a "ding," which he presented as a birthday gift to the MGH community.
The night's highlights included the presentation of the MGH Trustees' Medals by Cathy Minehan, chair of the MGH Board of Trustees and gala co-chair. The Trustees' Medal honors American physicians and scientists "whose lifetime contributions have uniquely benefited humankind, particularly through the advancement of medical care and practice." Only 14 individuals have received the award since it was created in 1986, including this year's awardees: Francisco G. Cigarroa, MD, chancellor of the University of Texas System; Patricia K. Donahoe, MD, chief emerita of MGH Pediatric Surgical Services and director of the Pediatric Surgical Research Laboratories; Howard M. Goodman, PhD, former chief of the MGH Department of Molecular Biology; James O'Connell, MD, MGH physician and president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program; and Morton N. Swartz, MD, former chief of MGH Infectious Disease and beloved resident educator.
Slavin presents a Trustees' Medal to O'Connell.
The evening drew to a close with the recognition of 22 local high school students selected as Bicentennial Scholars, who will receive financial and mentoring support in acquiring admission to, succeeding at and graduating from college. The students were introduced and congratulated by Valerie Stone, MD, MPH, of the Department of Medicine -- the first African-American woman full professor at the MGH -- along with a musical tribute by a septet from the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Slavin ended the evening with a warm salute to those who have worked tirelessly to makethe MGH the place it is today and has been for 200 years. "Since 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital has become a temple of healing for Boston and for the world. It is a place where bright and kind-hearted men and women stretch their imaginations, act upon their ideas and pursue their passion to help, to heal and to offer hope."
Video message from President Obama:
President Kennedy reflects on MGH's 150th Anniversary: