In her role as executive dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Kansas, Deborah E. Powell, M.D., instituted the Professionalism Initiative to foster the "preservation of true medical professionalism that not only embraces science and technology, but also the human element."
Deborah Powell was born on in 1939, in Lynn, Massachusetts. She graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College with a bachelor of arts degree in Latin and English, then spent a year at the University of Gothenburg School of Medicine in Sweden. She obtained her M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston in 1965. She completed her internship in pathology at Georgetown University Medical Center , followed by a three-year residency at the National Cancer Institute's Pathologic Anatomy Branch. Dr. Powell was an assistant professor, then associate professor, at Georgetown before being made director of Diagnostic Pathology at the University of Kentucky in 1976. While teaching at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, she was a three-time winner of the American Medical Students Association's Golden Apple Award, in 1979, 1981, and 1982. She was promoted to departmental vice-chair and full professor of pathology in 1980. In 1988, she was named chair of the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
In April 1997, Dr. Powell was named executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine and vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs. One of her most exciting innovations has been the introduction of the Professionalism Initiative to foster the integration of the art and science of medicine. Powell believes "Good medicine must be a balance of high tech and high touch. Good science can be taught, but the art of medicine must be modeled."
When Dr. Deborah Powell was named president of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) in 2000, Dr. Fred Silva, executive director of the Academy described it as a "tremendous...well deserved honor." USCAP is the oldest pathology association in North America and the largest of the International Academy of Pathology's fifty-four worldwide divisions. Silva noted that Powell "has been involved in every aspect of academic medicine and she is a respected national leader. You could say, 'She has done it all.' " In October 2002, Dr. Powell was made dean of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine.
Debra Powell was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2000, was an elected trustee of the American Board of Pathology, and was a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Women in Medicine Coordinating Committee from 1992 to 1995. She has also been a member of the National Institutes of Health's Advisory Council, Office of Research on Women's Health, since 1999.