Phyllis Magrab: Pioneer in Pediatric Psychology Honored Through Chair Inauguration
A leader in the field of pediatric psychology—known for her tireless work to address health disparities—was named to a new chair in Georgetown’s Center for Child and Human Development in February 2010.
Phyllis R. Magrab, PhD, whose career has been distinguished by an unswerving focus on vulnerable children and their families throughout the world, became the inaugural holder of the chair bearing her name earlier this year.
Philanthropic contributions from alumni, faculty and friends made the position a reality. Geraldine Waldorf, who prior to her death in 2009 was a longtime supporter of the Center for Child and Human Development, had started a fund to help establish the chair. Her husband Donald Waldorf, who has supported the fund, and daughter Heidi Waldorf both attended the chair inauguration.
According to Magrab, the establishment of the Phyllis R. Magrab Endowed Chair represents an important milestone for the university.
“First and foremost, it is intrinsically aligned with the Jesuit values of social justice of this institution. It gives voice to those whose voices have been muted—an academic voice through scholarship, advocacy and leadership,” she said.
In addition, the chair embodies Georgetown University Medical Center’s mission to “create team science and to focus on the strengths within the medical center, clearly one being the work in the area of health disparities,” Magrab added.
During Magrab’s more than 40-year career, she has contributed significantly to research on caring for children with chronic disease, disabilities and mental health needs, as well as tending to the needs of their families. She was the first woman to be granted a tenured full professorship in a clinical department at the School of Medicine.
According to Georgetown University President John J. DeGoia, PhD, Magrab went above and beyond “a career characterized by compassion.”
“She actively sought out the most vulnerable. She went to the homeless shelters. She found the children whose developmental disabilities might have been misdiagnosed—if they were noticed at all,” DeGoia said.
Howard J. Federoff, MD, PhD, executive vice president for health sciences of Georgetown University Medical Center, said the endowed chair will enable Magrab to continue “helping the most helpless among us,” and that her new role embodies the best of Georgetown’s vision and aspirations.
“We cannot overstate the importance of philanthropy in recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty such as Dr. Magrab and to supporting this vital and compassionate work,” Federoff said.
Magrab describes her vision—and for the work of the center—as a “glass-half-full approach.”
“While the challenges are many, the belief that solutions exist and that we as a community of scholars and advocates have a responsibility to uncover them—is paramount,” she said.
By Lauren Wolkoff, GUMC Communications