Leonard Akman Bequest Gives School of Medicine and Health Sciences $3.2 Million

Gift honors alumnus and physician who pioneered efforts in heart transplants and cardiac catheterization.

Leonard Akman
Left to right: Matthew Akman, Alvin Akman, Marion Akman and Jeffrey S. Akman, M.D. '81
August 12, 2013

A bequest on behalf of the late Leonard Akman, M.D. ’43, will provide the George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences with funds for initiatives related to students, residents, faculty and facilities.

 “Leonard Akman’s gift is profoundly meaningful for me. I could never have imagined that through his generosity, I would be in a position to be the steward of a gift that carries the names of our beloved family members at our alma mater,” said Jeffrey Akman, M.D., vice president for health affairs and dean of SMHS. He was a cousin of Dr. Akman and considered him to be a mentor, friend and visionary.

 Friends, family and GW faculty and staff gathered at a ceremony and luncheon this June to celebrate the gift to SMHS and to honor the late Dr. Akman, who was remembered as a physician who put his patients first and an alumnus with deep gratitude for his alma mater. Attendees discussed the concepts Dr. Akman would have believed to be important for SMHS, including partnerships with major global research organizations, such as the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

 Alvin Akman, another cousin of the late Dr. Akman’s and the personal representative of his estate, presented SMHS with a $3.2 million check to support a variety of initiatives. These include The Charles and Sonia Akman Professorship in Global Psychiatry, an endowed fund in memory of Dr. Akman’s parents; The Charles and Sonia Akman Fellowships in Global Psychiatry; The Leonard C. Akman Global Medicine Scholarships; the Bryan J. Akman Memorial Scholarship for medical student tuition support; and the SMHS Dean’s Discovery Fund. Support will also go to the Leonard C. Akman, M.D. ’43 Reception Area and the Steven M. Dixon, M.D. ’83, G.M.E. ‘87 Conference Room in the new Clinical Learning and Simulation Skills Center.

 “Establishing new professorships and other endowed funds is a mark of excellence for great medical schools and a key priority for our development efforts,” said Dennis Narango, associate vice president of medicine development and alumni relations. “Dr. Leonard Akman's magnificent act of generosity affirms our highest ambitions and will impact GW for generations to come.”

 As a pioneer in heart transplantation, cardiac catheterization and cineradiography, the late Dr. Akman focused his attention on the future and worked diligently to bring new modalities to the bedside. He came from an era of house calls and regularly saw his patients in the middle of the night. Dr. Akman also took time get to know those he treated, often putting their needs ahead of his own, his friends and family remembered.

 In addition to the gifts given to SMHS, leaders from the Weizmann Institute of Science attended the ceremony and accepted a gift bequeathed for research. It was the hope of Dr. Akman that SMHS and the Weizmann Institute of Science would develop a relationship that would mutually benefit the faculty and students of both institutions.