University News

Brody Establishes Pre-Med Symposium

December 20, 2016


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MACOMB, IL -- Transitioning from Western Illinois University to medical school is about to get easier for undergraduate students at Western. Thanks to Dr. Jill Brody and McDonough Eye Associates, WIU will host the first-ever Pre-Med Symposium March 8, 2017.

"We need to 'grow our own' doctors and it starts by informing WIU undergraduates about the process of applying to medical school," Dr. Brody said.

WIU Centennial Honors College Director Rick Hardy approached Dr. Brody about the creation of a pre-med symposium, similar to the Honors College pre-law symposium. According to Hardy, work then began to create a symposium to facilitate the undergraduates' path to gaining admission to medical school. And now with the help of Dr. Brody who is the lead contributor toward the $75,000 needed to endow the fund, the Jill M. Brody, MD/McDonough Eye Associates Pre-Medicine Symposium was created.

"This initiative is a one-stop shop for information about medical school and to alleviate the students' fears about the process of applying," Dr. Brody added. "It will benefit WIU undergraduate students interested in medicine, especially those interested in practicing medicine in a rural community. It will benefit them by opening their eyes to the medical school application process and what it is like to be in medical school."

Dr. Brody plans to serve as the facilitator of the inaugural pre-med symposium, which will feature a panel of doctors who will field questions about medical school. Students will also receive information from medical school representatives during the event. Dr. Dimitri Azar, an internationally recognized ophthalmic surgeon and the dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will serve as the keynote speaker. According to Dr. Brody, she selected Dr. Azar as the keynote speaker because he is a leader in basic science and clinically related vision research who has made significant contributions to the treatment of corneal diseases and to advances in refractive surgery.

"Dr. Azar is a true success story in medicine and he is a tireless teacher and mentor to many others," she noted.

Dr. Brody, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, completed her undergraduate and medical school degrees in Iowa. She finished her undergraduate studies in three years and obtained one of only 460 spots in ophthalmology after medical school, which she started in 1989 at George Washington University in Washington D.C. She was later selected as a corneal fellow in 1992 at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and became an assistant professor at SIU Medical School in 1994. Her career would eventually bring her to Macomb, taking over Dr. Lawrence Kerr's practice. While she's not a graduate of WIU, she knows the importance of giving back to the institution in the town she calls home.

According to Hardy, there are numerous WIU Honors College students who "excel in the sciences" and have the potential to become physicians.

"The Centennial Honors College is delighted by the prospect of offering Western's first-ever Pre-Med Symposium, which will allow our students to visit with area medical school representatives, learn about the medical profession and meet WIU alumni who are currently in medical school or are now engaged in their own practice," he said. "We are most grateful to Dr. Jill Brody for her generous contribution to the Pre-Med Symposium. She serves as true role model for our students who aspire to be medical practitioners."

Brad Bainter, vice president for advancement and public services, added that for years, Western's Pre-Law Symposium has helped numerous students prepare for law school.

"We are grateful for Dr. Brody's and McDonough Eye Associates' vision and financial sustenance to help us create this new symposium dedicated to the medical field," Bainter said.

Dr. Brody added that rural communities across Illinois and the United States often find it difficult to recruit and retain doctors. And that is why she is working to combat this issue.

"The new symposium may aid in doing just that and that's why I wanted to help establish this Pre-Med Symposium," Dr. Brody said. "It appealed to my sense of giving back to a community that has welcomed me with open arms and the need for more doctors within this community. WIU is an integral part of Macomb and if we can convince more students to go into medicine and some of them to return to Macomb, that is ideal."

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations