Skip to main content

Ron Falk, MD, chair of the department of medicine, led a virtual investiture celebration for Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD, on August 5. Busby-Whitehead was named the M. Andrew Greganti Distinguished Professor of Medicine, honored for her work as a researcher, clinician and educator, as well as a decades-long commitment to geriatric medicine.

Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD, professor of geriatric medicine, and Andrew Greganti, MD, who retired in 2019.

“Congratulations to both Dr. Greganti and Dr. Jan Busby-Whitehead. This professorship is named after him because of the love that so many of us have for the work that he did. And Jan, this is an honor so well deserved,” Falk said in his opening comments.

Roger Perry, a former member of the UNC Health Board of Governors and UNC Board of Trustees, helped secure the final funding needed.

Roger Perry

“It is a real honor to introduce Andrew…he was one of the very first faculty members to be on the board of directors of the chairs for the healthcare system, and I had the privilege of serving with him during that time,” Perry said. “Many of you know that I have a passion for fundraising and enjoy it, and this was the easiest money I ever helped raise as I called Andrew’s patients. Usually the question was, okay, how much do you want?”

A New Professorship

Greganti retired two years ago following more than 40 years of distinguished service at the School of Medicine, universally loved and respected by fellow physicians, patients, internal medicine residents, and hospital staff.

Many people participated in the celebration, including Deb Bynum, MD, Joshua Niznik, PharmD, PhD, and Laura Hanson, MD.

“To say the least my retirement has totally changed my life, and the kind words you’ve just given me have kind of awakened me, too, to what I’ve missed,” Greganti said. “I’ve really missed all of you…having a professorship named after me is not something that I ever anticipated or expected. Each of you has played a role in making this a reality.”

Past department chair Fred Sparling started the process in 2014. Both Greganti and Sparling had envisioned a professorship that would honor a clinician educator, who would serve as a respected role model with a commitment to the continuity of patient care, with a holistic approach to providing ongoing care.

“I am especially pleased that Jan Busby-Whitehead is the first recipient,” Greganti said. “Jan has worked tirelessly as the division chief of geriatric medicine, since the division became a reality in 2003. In fact, it was Jan, who urged Marschall Runge, the department chair at the time, to add a geriatric division to the department of medicine.”

Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD, the First Recipient

The celebration recognized Busby-Whitehead as a nationally recognized leader in her field, who has developed curricula across multiple disciplines throughout her career, providing education and training for residents, fellows and faculty, as well as medical students. She was also recognized for publishing more than 100 peer reviewed articles and book chapters in prestigious journals and textbooks, serving on numerous international and national academic committees. But most importantly, Busby-Whitehead was praised for providing expert care to her patients. Ed Smith explained.

Ed Smith Recalls a Patient Care Experience

Ed Smith, son of Dr. Busby-Whitehead’s patient.

“I very well remember the day that Dad was nearing the end of his battle with cancer,” Smith said. “You told my sister that everything that could be done had been done, and that he needed to know the end was near. You delivered that message to him in such an incredibly compassionate way that he simply smiled at my sister, with a huge smile, and said, ‘I’ve had a wonderful life.’ After his death, his visitation was in Lexington. I was surprised, but I shouldn’t have been, to look up and see your smiling face. How many doctors drive 90 miles to a patient’s wake? As I’ve said before, you truly are a treasure.”

Other participants in the celebration congratulated Busby-Whitehead, including Wesley Burks, MD; Deb Bynum, MD; Joshua Niznik, PharmD, PhD; John Batsis, MD; Maureen Dale, MD;  Laura Hanson, MD, and UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

The event concluded with Busby-Whitehead expressing gratitude.  “Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for the very kind words. I’m deeply humbled by this incredible honor. I’m really grateful to Andrew for the years of your leadership, friendship, support, your amazing mentorship and being a great role model for so many people. There are many honors the physician can aspire to, but there is none that could be more meaningful than to receive an award named for one of the most outstanding doctors in the School of Medicine.”