The John Gorman Lectureship

The John Gorman Lectureship in Transfusion Medicine at Columbia University

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In the 1960-80’s, John Gorman, M.D., was a Professor of Pathology in the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University and the Director of the Blood Bank at Presbyterian Hospital. At that time, Dr. Gorman, along with his Columbia colleague, Dr. Vincent Freda in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and their collaborator, Dr. William Pollack at Ortho Diagnostics, a Johnson & Johnson company, made one of the most important medical discoveries of our generation. 

In particular, they discovered a method to prevent Rh isoimmunization and hemolytic disease of the newborn caused by the Rh blood group antigen (i.e., “Rh Disease”). Their concept, involving passive immunity, permitted protection of mothers from immunization by their fetus, via administration of anti-Rh antibodies to the mother. The initial Rh immune globulin (i.e., RhIg) product available for patient use was RhoGAM® Rho(D) Immune Globulin (human), developed and manufactured by Ortho Diagnostics, a Johnson & Johnson company. The work of these individuals, resulting in the availability of this commercial product (now produced by Kedrion Biopharma), has saved thousands of lives of newborn babies and prevented countless suffering among Rh-negative mothers and their children. 

In 2016, the Department of Pathology & Cell Biology at Columbia University Medical Center established The John Gorman Lectureship in Transfusion Medicine to honor their former Columbia colleague, Dr. Gorman. The Lectureship is a proud reminder of one of the many pioneering medical achievements originating at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University. In addition, in 2018, this lectureship was endowed by a generous gift from Kedrion Biopharma.

Similar to the Salk polio vaccine discovery, Drs. Gorman and Freda, individually, along with Columbia University, as their institution, made this medical discovery available to patients without licensing fees or royalty payments. This allowed several commercial entities to develop products based on this original, pioneering work to discover an RhIg “passive vaccine.”

The Gorman lecturers include:

2016   Glen E. Ramsey, M.D.
2017   James C. Zimring, M.D., Ph.D.
2018   Peter C. Agre, M.D.
2019  Giuseppe Remuzzi, M.D.