Dr. R. Wayne Alexander, a native of Memphis, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1962 with a degree in chemistry and received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Emory University in 1967 and 1968. During those years, he also attended the Saturday Morning Clinical Cardiology Conference given by Emory faculty at Grady Memorial Hospital. He graduated from Duke University School of Medicine in 1969 and remained there for his internship. He completed his residency at the University of Washington in Seattle and his cardiology fellowship at Duke University.
Dr. Alexander served his country from 1971 to 1974 in the United States Public Health Service. He became Staff Associate (Senior Surgeon) at the Heart and Lung Institute where he was assigned to the Experimental Therapeutics Branch of the Institute. Dr. Alexander joined the Harvard faculty at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in 1976 and became Associate Professor of Medicine in 1982. He returned to Emory University in Atlanta in 1988 as the R. Bruce Logue Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Cardiology. In 1999 he was tapped to chair the Department of Medicine of Emory University School of Medicine and Emory University Hospital where he remained until 2013.
With research interests in the biology of blood vessels and the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, Dr. Alexander served as Vice President of Research and was on the Board of Directors for the American Heart Association. He was a senior editor of the cardiology textbook, “Hurst’s The Heart,” and was on the editorial boards of numerous publications. Emory University Department of Medicine designated the R. Wayne Alexander Excellence in Research Accomplishment Award in 2013, recognizing faculty making significant contributions to medical knowledge.
What were some of your significant accomplishments and experiences at UM?
“I am most proud of my academic accomplishments, including making the honor roll and graduating in three years. Although I cherished my experience in Oxford and regretted cutting short my time there, when I was 18 I was in a hurry to get started. The social relationships I developed were also fundamental to my future growth—pledging Pi Kappa Alpha was a big boost to my confidence, as were the friendships that came out of that. Tom McCraw, Class of 1962, became a dear friend after taking interest in my academic and intellectual curiosity, and that relationship carried over to when we were both working at Harvard decades later.”
What has been the value of your College of Liberal Arts education for your career and life?
“Above all it ingrained in me a strong sense of intellectual curiosity and a goal for continuous learning. That has perhaps been the biggest impact, and a mantra I’ve tried to ingrain in my children and professional mentees: never stop learning.”
The Dr. Wayne Alexander Graduate Student Stipend Fund supports doctoral students in biology and chemistry.
“I gave out of a sense of altruistic duty in the hopes that current and future students will be able to focus more on their academic pursuits and worry less about their ability to pay for their education.”