Rein Saral '65, Doctor of Humane Letters

June 01, 2005

Rein Saral '65 received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Grinnell College Commencement 2005.

A diagnosis of cancer or AIDS is nothing short of terrifying for those who must hear it. Saral has brought hope to those who feel they are beyond hope, and he has brought the possibility of renewed life to those who are looking death in the face.

As an educator, administrator, and physician-scientist, he has shown tremendous leadership in the efforts to find effective treatments for cancer, AIDS-related malignancies, and other illnesses.

Born in Estonia, Dr. Saral came to Grinnell College as an undergraduate, where he majored in chemistry and served as co-captain of the football team. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1965. He went on to earn a medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1969 and completed a residency in internal medicine, also at Johns Hopkins. He gave evidence of early promise, and that promise has been more than fulfilled in his life as a scientist and scholar.

Returning to Hopkins after three years at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolic, and Digestive Diseases at the National Institute of Health, Saral served as clinical director of a pioneering bone-marrow transplant program. He was the first physician to use bone marrow transplantation in the treatment of AIDS-related malignancies and among the first to use it in the treatment of sickle cell anemia and other blood disorders.

As director of Emory's Bone Marrow Transplantation Program in Atlanta, he developed the program into the largest in the Southeast and one of the five largest in the nation. He helped introduce several new technologies, including stem cell transplantation and the use of marrow transplantation for breast and ovarian cancer.

As senior associate director of the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University, Saral leads an interdisciplinary organization that seeks to become Georgia's first National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center.

He has also written or co-written chapters for 28 medical books and almost 150 scientific articles published in medical journals.

Grinnell College is proud to honor Rein Saral for his outstanding patient care, for the far-reaching significance of his research, and for the hope he provides to those who need it most.

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