Read The History of the New England Section of The American Urological Association by Dr. Kevin Loughlin


Joseph Dowd and His Many Gifts to the NE Section
by Karim Hamawy, MD

Joseph Dowd, MD It was the spring of 1988 when the American Urological Association (AUA) last hosted its annual event in Boston at the Hynes Convention Center. Stories of leaky ceilings, inadequate meeting space (less than 300,000 sq. ft.) and attendee housing as far away as Newton compelled the AUA to remove Boston from its annual meeting rotation. Joe Dowd was AUA President that year, and his leadership and vision set the stage for the AUA as we know it today.

This year's meeting of the AUA was held in Boston for the first time in 29 years. The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, with greater than 2 million sq. ft. of convention space, over 16,000 attendees, a Star Wars-studded event celebrating the work of John Williams, complete with a 68 piece orchestra and a visit from Governor Charlie Baker served to add Boston to the roster of future AUA meetings. Joe would have been very proud. In this article, I hope to share a small part of his great legacy and to highlight his tireless commitment to both the New England and National AUA.

"Joseph Bartholomew Dowd, M.D. was born in 1924 in Somerville, Massachusetts, the third of five children". After completing his early education in local schools, he enrolled at Boston College (BC) in 1941 but was called to active duty in the United State Army. Following his discharge, he returned to BC, graduating in 1949 and was subsequently awarded his Doctor of Medicine degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1952. He completed his surgical and urological residency programs in Boston under the direction of Richard Chute and Wyland Leadbetter. He joined the Lahey Clinic in 1960 and was elected Chairman of the Department of Urology in 1969. "Under his aegis, the Department of Urology flourished and acquired worldwide renown". He recruited Drs. John Libertino and Leonard Zinman, who are pioneers in our field.

During his professional life, Joe had "an intense devotion to the specialty of urology, its organizations, and its people". He served the New England Section as Secretary-Treasurer from 1968-1972 and as President in 1975. One of the charter members of the American Association of Clinical Urologists, he served as President in 1980 and was also a member of the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons. The New England Section elected Joe as Representative to the AUA Executive Committee and he subsequently served as Treasurer from 1981 to 1986. As previously mentioned, Joe (or as many called him, JBD) was President of the AUA in 1988.

During his presidency of the AUA, JBD helped organize and strengthen its governance and structure. He was instrumental in laying the groundwork for corporate reorganization, changes in investment policy and expansion of its facilities and staff. One of his most significant accomplishments was to recruit Jim Gallagher as Executive Director of AUA in 1988. During Jim's leadership, the organization thrived. Its budget quadrupled, assets increased 10-fold and membership grew from 6,600 to 15,000. Several departments were established, such as Health Policy, Government Affairs, Clinical Practice Guidelines, Practice Management, Industry Relations and the Office of Research. Many of these achievements were in great part due to Joe’s strategic vision. "In 1992, he was awarded the Ramon Guiteras Medal, AUA's most prestigious honor".

In his retirement, he immersed himself in the alumni activities of his beloved Boston College and was President of their Alumni Association in 1993. "In 1997, he received BC's highest honor, the William McKenney Award. He personally founded the Institute of Learning in Retirement at Boston College, which provides continuing education for seniors and has been an enormous success." JBD was very proud of his alma mater and considered these accomplishments to be the pinnacle of his career.

Apart from these tremendous achievements, JBD was a devoted and loving family man, married to Mary Foley Dowd for 46 years. He was also a gregarious and charismatic "people person", with an enduring sense of humor. "He knew and loved everyone and everyone loved him". He had an encyclopedic memory for people and events. "When he was active in the AUA, he was familiar with virtually every member. He knew the spouses, their children and where they were in school". What he didn’t know, he'd fill in the blanks. One of his many gifts was making everyone feel important and comfortable no matter what his or her station in life might be.

"Joe embodied all of the qualities a great physician and human being should have. He was a gentleman and a gentle man, a role model for all, manifesting integrity, honesty, compassion, and competence, all sprinkled with a little humor. The Code of Ethics of the AUA could serve as a template of Joe's professional life. He accomplished more in his lifetime than many of us could in ten lifetimes." In 1999, the Board of Directors of the New England Section of the AUA announced the establishment of the Joseph B. Dowd, MD – New England Section Lifetime Achievement Award. This honor is bestowed to a deserving individual who aspires to the many ideals set forth by Dr. Dowd, his dedication to the practice of urology and longstanding service to the New England Section. Our Section as well as the national AUA is fortunate to have been graced by this special individual.

Karim Hamawy
NEAUA Historian