The Gift of Teaching

New professorship honors the late Allan J. Goody (C'92, M'96, R'00)

"He lived life with his foot on the accelerator," says Georgetown School of Medicine Dean Stephen Ray Mitchell of Allan J. Goody. "Undaunted by renal failure since he was 12, he studied and worked here at Georgetown for over 20 years as a specialist in diagnosing and treating kidney disease while quietly undergoing his dialysis and transplants. He was an inspiration to all who knew him. I think he loved Georgetown students and residents as much as he loved Georgetown."

Shortly after his passing in 2011, a memorial cherry tree garden took root in his name, overlooking the hospital where he studied and later taught. A lectureship was also established to pay tribute to his love of teaching and lifelong learning.

Thanks to an additional $1 million gift this year from his parents, John and Diane Goody, the beloved professor will now be remembered with the Allan J. Goody, M.D. Endowed Professorship in Medical Education.

'Never any doubt'

"Allan was a young teen when he found out he needed a kidney transplant. He decided then that he wanted to be a doctor," shares his father John Goody. "There was never a doubt in his mind."

He was equally sure that he wanted to attend Georgetown. A brilliant math and science student, he received offers—and scholarships—from other institutions, but he had his heart set on the Hilltop.

"Allan told me he loved Georgetown from the start, especially the friendliness of the students and the academic rigor of the classes," recalls Diane Goody, his mother.

He was also an avid fan of Georgetown basketball, following the players and rarely missing a game.

But perhaps more than anything, he took the mission of women and men for others to heart, helping kidney patients with the same struggles he himself faced for years. He focused his studies on nephrology, completing his medical degree while on peritoneal dialysis after his second kidney transplant failed.

'The twinkle in his eye'

After earning his undergraduate and medical degrees, he began a three-year residency and a year-long nephrology fellowship—also at Georgetown.

It seems that Georgetown loved him as much as he loved it. According to Dean Mitchell, "He won every teaching award in the internal medicine residency, multiple times, and won the Outstanding Teaching Fellow twice— because the fellowship only lasted two years."

His students honored him with four Clinical Faculty Awards before he passed away—and a fifth just three months following his death. When his brother accepted the fifth award on his behalf, Dr. Goody received a standing ovation from all of the students and faculty in attendance.

"Anyone who sat across the table at Virginia Hospital Center during his morning report watched the twinkle in his eye when he was speaking," says Mitchell.

"There were quips and humor but always fascinating medical teaching, using his incredibly deep fund of knowledge," Mitchell adds. "He was beloved."

'Complete selflessness' in life and work

In addition to his work at Virginia Hospital Center and his role as an assistant professor at Georgetown School of Medicine, Dr. Goody volunteered once a month at the Arlington Free Clinic, a nonprofit facility for low-income residents in his Virginia suburb.

After he passed away, his colleagues found out that he rarely took co-pays from those less fortunate. They also found out that he was undergoing dialysis during many of the years while he was at Georgetown, but he didn't want to draw any attention to himself. "He just went upstairs to a little room and took care of it," says Dean Mitchell.

A colleague, Kate Dreger, remembers his courage. "He never complained. He never bemoaned his disease. He simply carried on. It was a part of him but he was above all that. He pursued medicine with determination … and was ever humble and grounded. He focused on his patients and really got to know them, even their social issues and financial constraints."

"Allan had a very patient-centric approach," shares his father. "He gave his patients hope and practical advice based on his experiences. I remember that he helped one patient manage a problem with the shunt that you would only know how to deal with if you had one yourself. He was very handson."

"Most doctors had given up on me and vice versa, but Dr. Goody saved my life," shares one of his patients. "He made me determined to live—and later, to give birth to my son even though other doctors discouraged it. Dr. Goody saw me through my pregnancy and now my husband and I have a little boy. He believed in me and brought hope out of fear."

Teaching the 'scary smart' students of Georgetown

"Allan derived huge satisfaction from working with students and young doctors," says his father. "He told us just how 'scary smart' the students and residents were at Georgetown. I'm sure that was part of the pleasure he got in his job."

Together with his wife Diane, John Goody endowed the new School of Medicine professorship in his son's name so that medical students, residents, and fellows could all benefit.

"I will say—on behalf of his extended family, friends, and colleagues—that we'd like his name to be seen in some small way at the institution he loved so dearly. He gave us all so much. We watched him battle insurmountable odds without complaint, and succeed."


By Camille Scarborough
Camille is director of communications and editorial services in the Office of Advancement. She can be reached at camille.scarborough@georgetown.edu.