A Lesson that Counts
I especially enjoyed your latest issue and the tribute to Peter Nowell. I would like to tell you a previously unknown story. I was a Penn medical student in 1957. My path lab assistant was Peter Nowell. We were very upset with him because he was never there. We were about to report him to the dean when we were called to a conference. The auditorium was packed. The speaker was Peter Nowell. He got up and said, “You were all taught that there are 48 chromosomes in the human body. There are 46 and I will show them to you.” Were we glad that we never went to the dean.
Benson Horowitz, MD’59
A Philadelphia Chromosome Casualty
Certainly that was a wonderful tribute article which explained the astounding contribution of Peter Nowell, MD, a classmate I knew and respected in the alphabet-oriented segment of the class of 1952.
Sadly, another classmate, Sidney Gross (also Penn ’48), with whom I shared assignments in Bavaria (U.S. Army 1953-1956) saw his tour of duty cut short. He developed chronic myelogenous leukemia and he became one of the early patients evincing the Philadelphia chromosome—though he lived to complete a dermatology residency.
Donald Maloney, MD’52
A Passionate Protestant
Your winter article about Peter Nowell brought back fond memories of my sophomore year summer in 1964 spent in his lab. There I was exposed not only to his scientific genius but also to his non-scientific side. We were both avid Phillies fans and had much to cheer about that summer before the Phillies’ legendary late September collapse. I also vividly remember Dr. Nowell relating the time the parish priest came to his house and was disappointed to learn that Dr. Nowell was not Catholic. He told Dr. Nowell that he assumed he was Catholic since he had such a large family and Dr. Nowell replied that he was just a passionate Protestant. It was a true self description of his non-scientific and his scientific life.
Steven Ominsky BA’62, MD’66
A Remarkable Thinker
I really enjoyed Lisa Bain’s article “Remembering Peter Nowell” published in the recent issue of Penn Medicine. It was Dr. Nowell’s lectures on tumor evolution that I heard as a Penn medical student in my first year of medical school in 1983 that stimulated me to devote my career to studying the biology of head and neck cancer, and his thought constructs continue to shape my own thoughts as I study and take care of patients with this disease. He was a remarkable thinker, wonderful teacher, and a kind and humble human being. I also clearly remember Dr. Nowell coming to a happy hour in the first week of medical school and coming to play softball with our class. He was a remarkable and inspiring person who truly led an impactful life.
Jeffrey N. Myers, BA’83, MD’91, PhD’91