Dr. Jonathon Firnhaber adds “distinguished professor” to his many titles
Dr. Jonathon Firnhaber ’14 stays busy.
He is a physician at East Carolina University’s Family Medicine Center, an associate professor of family medicine at the Brody School of Medicine, director of the family medicine residency program and vice chair of academic affairs – plus he is working on his MBA.
Now he is the recipient of the Max R. & Catherine S. Joyner Distinguished Professorship in Primary Care Medicine.
“It’s personally an enormous honor. I think it’s a huge plus for our department as well,” Firnhaber said.
As the Joyner Distinguished Professor, Firnhaber serves as a role model for ECU faculty members and students. He will assist with activities to enrich teaching, develop opportunities in research and creative activity, provide patient care and boost the reputation of the school and university as a center for primary care medicine.
“Top of the list, we’re working to establish a fellowship in academic medicine, associated with our residency program,” he said. “(We) have all sorts of ideas in mind to improve the research standing of both our department and our residency program, which trickles down to improving the research focus of our students. If our students are seeing their mentors and their teachers participating in research and are working to improve their educational base, that translates to excitement on their part as well.”
Dr. Chelley Alexander, Robert T. Monk Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine, said the professorship “is an enormous honor for Dr. Firnhaber, it reflects well on the department and also supplies funding and opportunities for our department to work with all the primary care disciplines at Brody School of Medicine in joint initiatives centered around research and academic medicine.”
After getting his undergraduate and medical degree from the University of Colorado, Firnhaber spent seven years in the Air Force as a resident and staff physician. Then he spent the next several years in private practice in Shelby, Washington and Chocowinity before coming to ECU in 2006.
Max Ray Joyner, Sr. ’54 described Firnhaber as a “very outstanding fellow” and said he was pleased the school selected him for the professorship.
The Max R. & Catherine S. Joyner Distinguished Professorship in Primary Care Medicine is made possible in part by the Joyner family. Their leadership gift has helped fund this professorship since 1992. Joyner has donated many gifts to the university since he graduated, helping with various scholarships and programs. He said the reason he got involved with this professorship is simple.
“I was asked… and I thought it was a good idea,” said Joyner.
“Folks like Mr. Joyner are the absolute unsung heroes of eastern North Carolina,” Firnhaber said. “To me, this professorship is not just an opportunity for me and for our department, but I think it really illustrates what individuals like him have done for health care in our state.”
Firnhaber and the Joyners were honored at a reception at the Family Medicine Center on May 11.
The Max R. & Catherine S. Joyner Distinguished Professorship in Primary Care Medicine is a five-year term and is renewable for a second five-year term. It includes an annual stipend that can be used for various needs such as salary supplement, travel and research expenses, stipends for teaching, research assistants, and special equipment.
If you would like make a charitable gift to or would like more information for the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, email Mark Notestine, President, ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org.
-by Rich Klindworth