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New Scholarship Honors Beloved Professor and Dean

Most people have had a special teacher or mentor in their lives, someone who inspired and challenged them, who opened doors they never knew existed. When this happens, it can change a life—often in unexpected ways. John T. Harrington, M.D., dean emeritus of Tufts University School of Medicine, has been just such a teacher to many over the course of his 40-year career at Tufts. And one physician who studied under Dr. Harrington has chosen to show his gratitude by creating the John T. Harrington M.D. Scholarship.

The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has chosen to recognize Dr. Harrington by establishing a scholarship in his professor’s name to be awarded ideally to a student from the College of the Holy Cross, Dr. Harrington's alma mater. The gift of $270,000 came about after the donor sought out Dr. Harrington at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology last November. It had been approximately 10 years since they last met. "I am truly honored to be remembered with this scholarship," says Harrington. "It's extraordinary. Talented young students are graduating from Holy Cross and cannot afford to attend TUSM. This scholarship will open up the possibility for students to select TUSM without regard to the cost of tuition. What a gift!”

Dr. Harrington has had a long and distinguished career at Tufts. An internationally recognized nephrologist, he has held numerous appointments in addition to serving as dean of Tufts University School of Medicine. He has served as chief of medicine at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, a Tufts teaching affiliate, and he has been a professor of medicine at Tufts since 1979. Dr. Harrington's work as an acid-base physiologist, author, physician, and teacher has touched many lives, from the patients he's treated and colleagues he's worked alongside, to the many physicians he's taught during his career at Tufts.

Classroom studies have their place, but for young doctors, much of the real learning takes place at the side of experienced physicians as they see patients together. Dr. Harrington's enthusiasm, dedication, and love for teaching were evident with every student he encountered. "Teaching on the wards and teaching in the clinics was much more fun, much more exciting, and much more socially fulfilling than formal classroom teaching," he says.

Dr. Harrington remembers his own mentors as extraordinary doctors who proved able role models in a tradition that he carries on even today. Although he's retired from seeing patients, Dr. Harrington remains involved with young doctors. "I go in for renal rounds and medical grand rounds on Friday, so I'm still hanging around Tufts," he says.

The scholarship is a way to show gratitude for Dr. Harrington's continuing contributions as a scientist, physician, and teacher. Now one physician's desire to give back in generous tribute to his former mentor will help open a door of opportunity in a young student's life, paving the way to study medicine at TUSM.

Do you want to honor an important person in your life with a donation to TUSM? Please contact Rebecca Scott, senior director of development and alumni relations, at 617-636-6770 or