George J. Dover, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine, says he has built his career around sickle cell disease, and quite a career it has been. He is the author of more than 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals and the author or co-author of 26 book chapters in the field of pediatric hematology and genetics.
Since 1982, Dover has had continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health, including research grants in the areas of genetics, thalassemia and sickle cell disease. He is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently the George J. Stuart Award for Outstanding Clinical Teaching and the MERIT Research Award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH. Dover also was part of the team of Hopkins physicians responsible for developing the FDA-approved hydroxyurea therapy for sickle cell disease.
Yet despite his accomplishments, Dover says he has long understood his limitations.
He harkens back to his days as a young Hopkins faculty member working with the Sickle Cell Association of Maryland, a United Way-affiliated organization. Dover says he was able to see firsthand just how this particular association complemented and enhanced what he was doing in his own medical career, pointing to its efforts to increase public awareness of the disease and improve the quality of life for adults, adolescents and children with sickle cell disorders.
"I saw that the organization was able to reach out to the community in a way I could not possibly do," Dover says.
Over time, Dover says he came to learn of other United Way organizations equally as focused on disease education, treatment and prevention. Among those with which he works is the Cooley's Anemia Foundation of Maryland, a voluntary health organization that goes into schools, churches and social arenas to help patients with this disorder.
With the university's 2000 campaign for the United Way of Central Maryland officially under way, Dover says that once again he will be pledging his financial support to the organization, and he hopes others will follow his example.
"I guess that for almost my whole professional career the United Way has been the major source of where I put my charitable donations," he says. "I come [at it] from two perspectives. As a member of the community, I feel it is the most effective way to give back to the community and make the most difference. Secondly, as chair of the Department of Pediatrics, I have worked with a variety of organizations that quite simply depend on United Way funds. The Leukemia Society of America's commitment to research and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation's support of diabetes education are just two examples of direct and indirect synergies of our efforts as a medical department and what the United Way is helping to fund."
Dover says that his recent experience as a member of President William R. Brody's Council on Urban Health has further illustrated for him the impact of the United Way, this time right where he "lives" and works.
"I have gone out into the community, inside nonmedical United Way agencies, and have come to understand just how important these organizations are to the people who live here in East Baltimore," Dover says. "From my point of view, I have paid particular attention to the ones trying to meet the demands of taking care of mothers and children at risk. Whether it be for peer-group facilities, health clinics or transportation services, there are dozens of different agencies that this department goes to for assistance."
Dover praises the efforts of Edward Miller, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine and dean of the medical faculty at the School of Medicine, and of Harold E. Fox, professor and director of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the School of Medicine, in promoting the importance of United Way-funded agencies in Baltimore.
Fox for the past three years has chaired the JHM United Way campaign.
"Clearly," Dover says. "He understands that Johns Hopkins is a member of the East Baltimore community, and it is essential that we support and work with the leaders of these agencies."
When it came time in his life to choose a charity to donate to, Dover says he realized right away that the United Way and Johns Hopkins are basically on the same team.
"The United Way helps foster our ability to take care of our patients," he says. Last year alone, $6.8 million in grants from various United Way agencies went to the care of patients at Hopkins. "It is very clear to me we are working toward the same goals."
For more information on the JHU United Way campaign, log onto www.jhu.edu/~hr1/uway/unite.htm.