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"I have a title that includes my son's name"

Andrew Cosgarea's new professorship — funded by more than 180 friends, family, and former patients — is a special part of his son Alec's legacy
Posted April 19, 2017
"Mentorship is how we can go beyond each individual patient" and make a bigger impact on the world, says Drew Family Professor Andrew Cosgarea, with assistant professor Miho Tanaka.

When Alec Cosgarea — a champion swimmer and a popular student at the Baltimore-area McDonogh School — died in a 2012 car accident, family and friends sought ways to honor his memory. Some established a scholarship at McDonogh and others donated to Swim Across America, a charity dear to Alec's heart. But many joined actors Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, the Broccoli Family Foundation, and former university and current medicine trustee Ina Drew, A&S '78, and her husband, Howard, A&S '78,  in creating the Drew Family Professorship in honor of Alec John Cosgarea. The chair's first recipient: Alec's father — Andrew Cosgarea, chief of sports medicine in Hopkins' Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

"We wanted to do something to support the Cosgareas that had impact and permanence," said Grace Pollack, who supported the professorship with her husband, Howard. Their son, Jack, was a close friend of Alec's. "Even after Andy holds it, this professorship will always make doctors stronger and the community a better place in Alec's name."

Defining the "community" Andrew Cosgarea has impacted in his nearly 25-year career is a challenge. He has tended to collegiate athletes at Ohio State University and at Hopkins, where he's been the Blue Jays' head team physician since 2001. From 2000 to 2010, he served as a team physician for the Baltimore Orioles. And then there are the thousands of non-athlete patients whom Cosgarea has treated in his role as one of the nation's top orthopaedic surgeons.

"Our philanthropic focuses have always been to find special ways to be supportive of Hopkins, and we found our match [in Dr. Cosgarea]," said Ina Drew at the chair's installation. In all, more than 180 unique donors gave to the professorship — the 12th in orthopaedic surgery, but the first dedicated to sports medicine. In addition to providing the department more resources to recruit and retain top doctors, the Drew Family Professorship will provide what Cosgarea considers a crucial benefit: more time for mentorship.

"Mentorship is how we can go beyond each individual patient that we help and exponentially increase the influence we can have in our communities and the world," Cosgarea says.

One of Cosgarea's most recent mentees, Miho Tanaka, began collaborating with him on research during her Hopkins residency. Two years ago, she returned to the department and directs Hopkins' Women's Sports Medicine Program — in large part due to Cosgarea's support. Cosgarea, and leaders like him, "are pulled in a million different directions — managing their teams, their patients, conducting research, and teaching," Tanaka said. Although they often make the best mentors, they usually have the least time for it. That’s what makes the Drew Family Professorship such an important addition to the department.

"I owe so much of what I do to him, and there will be so many more who come up after me who will have similar feelings and experiences," Tanaka said.

For Cosgarea and his wife, Sheila — parents of a current Hopkins junior — the professorship is as much a family honor as it is a professional accolade. During his remarks at the installation, he showed two video clips of his son, including one in which Alec won the 100 butterfly event at the 2012 Maryland State Swim Meet. The chair, he said, would serve as a commemoration of Alec's passion, excellence, loyalty, and commitment to his community.

"I have a title that includes my son's name. It's on my business card. It's on our website," he said after the installation. "It's a constant reminder of the qualities Alec had that were unique and special. This is a concrete reminder that reminds me to live to those standards."

To learn more about supporting faculty in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, please contact Molly Murray, director of development.