Ruth Fox Scholarship Recipients to Be Recognized

The six recipients of Ruth Fox scholarships and donors to the Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment Fund were recognized at an invitation-only reception Friday night.

The Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment fund was established in 1990 to raise $10 million to support the society in times of need or for special projects, said Andrea Barthwell, MD, FASAM, Incoming Chair of the committee that oversees the fund. The fund is kept separate from ASAM’s operating fund and it has reached about half of its fundraising goal.

“The endowment fund helps ensure the survival and vitality of the society,” Dr. Barthwell said. “It has loaned ASAM funds through the ups and downs of the recent economy so the society can meet its goals of improving physician education, advocacy, and practice support for addiction medicine.”

Since its inception, 98 percent of the endowment fund’s principal has come from ASAM members to achieve those goals.

“We wanted to offer education for non-addiction physicians,” Dr. Barthwell said of what has been accomplished through the Ruth Fox Memorial Endowment Fund. “We wanted to develop residency and fellowship programs in this area. We also wanted to provide practice support to other practice arenas where people were dealing with alcoholism and other addictions. Lately, we wanted to deal with method of payment so we would have adequate insurance reimbursement for the services we provide.”

The fund also has been used to encourage fellows and residents to attend the Med-Sci Conference by not charging those young professionals ASAM dues or registration fees for the conference. Eventually, the Ruth Fox Scholarship Committee was established to fund scholarships using a percentage of the interest earned on the endowment fund’s principal. Since 2002, 65 scholarships have been funded, and six scholarships have been awarded this year.

“We have a process where people apply and are reviewed by a committee,” Dr. Barthwell said of the scholarship applications. “During this reception, the scholars get to meet the most supportive and senior members of ASAM.”

“This is a way for us to see what our contributions have done to support new people in the field and to acknowledge people who are continuing to join our numbers and support this fund.”

This year’s Ruth Fox Scholars 

R. Joel Bush, MD, Addiction Medicine Fellow at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, is a primary care physician who is in U.S. Army. “I will be able to use the learning at the ASAM conference to solidify my understanding of addictive disorders and propagate that knowledge to my colleagues within the military, helping to spread addiction medicine.”

Elizabeth Bulat, MD, Livonia, Mich., is a senior internal medicine resident who will start an addiction medicine fellowship July 1. “During my internal medicine residency, while setting up an addiction medicine elective at my program, I researched different learning opportunities for residents to learn about the diagnosis and treatment of alcoholism and other drug dependencies.”

Clifford Cabansag, MD, is an addiction fellow at the Cincinnati Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati Department of Psychiatry. “As part of an addiction medicine rotation during my intern year, we visited the local methadone clinic. As soon as I stepped on to the grounds, I felt the sensation that this was almost sacred ground. This was the physical space where people were literally fighting for their lives. This epiphany culminated in my acceptance into an ABAM-accredited fellowship. By attending this conference, I hope to learn as much as  I can so as to be able to provide better care for our patients and assist others in doing the same.”

Elina Chernyak, DO, University Heights, Ohio, is a primary care physician. “Through the course of my work, I’ve discovered an inseparable correlation between family practice and treating addiction. It’s a symbiotic relationship that works through both clinical and practical means that can yield significant benefits for the patient.”

Yelena Chorny, MD, MSc, is an addiction medicine fellow at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto, who trained in family medicine and plans to combine her work in both fields. “I would like to help increase training so family physicians have more of a screening and identification role and have a backup with someone who has more training in addiction. That is lacking.”

Michael Dekker, DO, is a psychiatric resident who will soon start a fellowship at Boston University in addiction psychiatry. “I think that the Ruth Fox Scholarship will be extremely helpful at this early point in my career because it will provide the opportunity to start to develop relationships with experts in the field.