O’Donnell Named Cohen Chair

Anne E. O’Donnell (M’82, R’85, W’87), professor of medicine and chief of the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, has been tapped as the Nehemiah and Naomi Cohen Chair in Pulmonary Disease Research.

Having authored over 40 manuscripts, O’Donnell is an internationally recognized expert in bronchiectasis and respiratory infections. She has been a principal investigator on numerous clinical trials investigating therapies for bronchiectasis and nontuberculous mycobacteria infections.

O’Donnell’s distinguished career makes her the “natural inheritor” of the prestigious Cohen Chair, according to her colleague Richard Waldhorn, MD. “Anne has applied the principles and values by which she has lived her entire life. First, work hard. Then become an expert, and learn all that you can possibly learn. Next, always respect and listen to the patients—by taking a careful history without the assumption that someone else has asked the important questions. And most importantly, strive to understand the patient’s perspective.”

Endowed chairs are one of the highest honors awarded to faculty. The Cohen Chair has engaged world-renowned physician scientists in the research and academic mission of Georgetown and has sustained scholarship over decades in the area of pulmonary disease research. It was established in 1986 by the children of Nehemiah and Naomi Cohen. The inaugural Cohen Chair was awarded to Sol Katz, MD (M’39), who held it while a national search committee was underway to find a permanent chairholder. Katz was followed by Donald Massaro, MD, who was appointed in 1987 and served as the chair until his death in 2014.

“Having this chair makes an important contribution to moving forward in these very rare diseases—they’ve been understudied, under-researched, underfunded,” O’Donnell says. “I hope that with this chair, we’re going to make good contributions to the care of the patients.”