Fall 2013
Alumni Accent

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Paul Roth

Paul Roth. Photo provided by Screenshot/University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

Alumnus reflects on early years at Nevada’s medical school

By Anne Pershing

When told he was selected by School Medicine as its 2013 Outstanding Alumnus, Paul Roth, M.D., Class of 1974, said he couldn't believe it.

"I was thrilled and couldn't be happier. What an honor!"

This year's outstanding alumnus received his award at the UNR Homecoming Gala on October 23, said Tracey Delaplain, M.D. '87, president of the School of Medicine's alumni association.

"We honored Dr. Paul Roth's distinguished clinical and academic career and are grateful for his willingness to give back," she said.

Roth, a native of Parsippany, New Jersey, is currently the Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque. He attended the University of Nevada School of Medicine from 1972 to 1974, when it was a two-year school, before transferring to the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Roth completed his family practice residency in 1979 at the University of New Mexico.

Roth said that as students his Nevada classmates were pioneers because in those days the school was only a two-year program, at the end of which they all had to transfer to four-year medical schools.

Yet, he said, they were fortunate to gain a strong foundation in basic medical science from "some truly gifted faculty."

One teacher who inspired Roth was now retired pediatrician and psychiatrist DeWitt "Bud" Baldwin, M.D.

"He was someone I could confide in and he provided me with all kinds of substantial information to help me with school. I also enjoyed wonderful friendships with my classmates like Bill Michelson, a fellow student who practices emergency medicine in Reno, and his wife, Judy. Naturally, many of us took advantage of our proximity to the Sierras and Lake Tahoe to explore the beauty of the mountains and just ‘chill out' between and after major exams."

"When I transferred to the medical school in D.C., it was about as far away from Reno as one could imagine. I missed the School of Medicine and my friends. With this award, I'm reminded that the formative experiences and relationships stay with us for the rest of our lives. The experience in Reno definitely helped prepare me for my current job in New Mexico. I've always been very grateful and am extremely fond of Reno."

Prior to becoming dean at New Mexico in 1994, Roth held a variety of leadership positions there, including chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, director of ambulatory care programs and chief medical officer.

His professional emphasis is in disaster medicine, and he is a fellow in the American College of Emergency Physicians. He founded the University of New Mexico Center of Disaster Medicine and created the nation's first civilian Disaster Medical Assistance Team in the National Disaster Medical System in 1984. The team continues to be the largest and most experienced in the U.S.

Roth also held a variety of leadership positions, including member of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Public Health Emergency Advisory Council.