FACULTY: John Hardman’s legacy as mentor continues with annual recognition

“A true educator.” “A great teacher but never pedantic.” “The best Chairman we ever had.”

As the John M. Hardman, M.D. Award is presented to this year’s worthy recipient at the JABSOM Convocation Awards, many medical students, as well as newer faculty, may wonder about the man in whose honor this award was established. Those who knew Dr. Hardman recall a physician of many accomplishments: Chair of the Department of Pathology at JABSOM, researcher with the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study, “Hawai‘i’s preeminent neuropathologist,” marathon poker player, and secret tennis expert. Foremost among Dr. Hardman’s achievements, though, was his excellence as a teacher. According to Dr. Jane Uyehara-Lock from the Department of Pathology, “Dr. Hardman was very busy, but always had time for everyone.” Dr. Cory Fraser, also from Pathology, echoes this sentiment: “He was never too busy to go over complex issues with students and residents, and always had encouraging words.”

Journey to UH included the Korean War and Walter Reed

Originally from Matheson, Colorado, Dr. Hardman attended the University of Colorado, obtaining both undergraduate and M.D. degrees from that institution. He then focused his learning efforts on pathology, first receiving an M.S. and shortly thereafter completing a fellowship in neuropathology with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP). According to Dr. Hardman’s memorial in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, “John was the first of a limited number of pathologists to be boarded in AP (Anatomical Pathology), CP (Clinical Pathology) and NP (Neuropathology).” After serving as U.S. Army medical staff in Korea, AFIP, Tripler AMC and Walter Reed, Dr. Hardman led the University of Hawai‘i Department of Pathology as Chair until his death in 2006.

“Despite his many years of experience and his impressive skills, he had the ability to simplify things in a manner that anyone could understand,” Dr. Fraser recalls. Dr. Uyehara-Lock, who studied under Dr. Hardman as a resident and later as faculty in Pathology, concurs, adding, “He excelled in everything. He had the greatest quality for leadership. Just an amazing teacher for med students.” Dr. Lon White, Clinical Professor in Geriatric Medicine and Principal Investigator on the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study (of which Dr. Hardman became a founding member in 1991) says, “He encouraged questioning and the sort of aggressive skepticism that is essential to creative thinking. Like all great teachers, he delighted in learning from his students.”

Research Leader

In addition to a significant contribution to teaching, Dr. Hardman had many research endeavors. “With the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study,” Dr. White says, “Dr. Hardman designed the protocol for the brain autopsy, personally carried out our more than five-hundred standardized brain examinations, and was coauthor on multiple publications and presentations. He utilized the resources of the study to teach a large number of students, residents and fellows about the normal and abnormal structures of the brain.” The Honolulu-Asia Aging Study investigates the epidemiology of dementia.

This description of Dr. Hardman’s drive to educate in a meaningful way resonates with Col. Karen Burmeister, Chief of Pathology at Tripler AMC. “No matter who was around him, they would learn from him,” she says. “He would bring civilian medical students and residents to review cases with military staff, surgeons and interns at Tripler AMC.”

“The kind of physician I wished to be”

Not only is Dr. Hardman remembered as an excellent teacher and researcher, he was also considered an inherently kind and decent individual. “He had honor and integrity, and was the pathologist and physician I wished to be,” Dr. Fraser says. Dr. White agrees. “He provided a model for all of us on how to be a physician, scientist, teacher, and decent individual.” UH Emeritus Professor George Read, who played many a card game and tennis match with Dr. Hardman, offers the perhaps most colorful memory of his friend. When speaking of his behavior at the poker table, Dr. Read says, “He was always cheerful and fun. The worst epithet he ever applied to anyone was ‘fart blossom.’” Dr. Read concludes by stating, “Johnny was one of the finest, most humble people I have ever known.”

The John M. Hardman, M.D. Award for Mentoring in Teaching is presented to a professor who best emulates Dr. Hardman’s passion, grace, and devotion to foster the intellectual, professional and personal growth of his beloved students throughout their training.    

Story by: Jeffery Long

Above, pictured surrounding the new Dr. John Hardman memorial in the JABSOM student learning center are (left to right) Roy Magnusson, MD (Assoc. Dean of Clinical Affairs),   David Horio, MD  (Asst. Prof. of Pathology), Jerris Hedges, MD (Dean), David Shimizu, MD (Asst. Prof. of Pathology), Jean Chee,  and Brock Kaya, MD (Assoc. Prof. of Pathology. Arnold Kameda photograph.

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