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He is that uncommon physician who is equally at home in the research lab, at the bedsides of patients, and teaching a course in endocrinology (his specialty) to medical students. Paul J. Beisswenger ’60 has taught, conducted research, and practiced medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., since 1975.

The chemistry graduate also writes compelling grant applications that have raised millions from the National Institutes of Health for his research aimed at uncovering why some people are more susceptible to diabetic complications than others.

“Diabetes costs our country about $130 billion a year,” he says, citing links to blindness, kidney failure, and heart attacks.

Beisswenger, who earned his M.D. at Penn, says finding a balance among his work areas and family life has not been easy, but it invigorates him.

“It has been difficult,” he says, “and people said I couldn’t do it,” but he has managed his overfull agenda successfully. “I don’t know if you would call it persistence or stubbornness.”

He credits Lafayette for the broad-based education that ignited his lifelong love of learning.

“There’re some pretty boring people in medicine,” he says. “I love reading and history, and I think [my Lafayette education] really set me up for being about more than medicine.”

Beisswenger recalls his Lafayette professors fondly as being “great characters. They were interesting; they weren’t just scientists, they were personalities.”

A particularly memorable course was Creative Centuries, in which professors from various disciplines addressed different aspects of a topic, such as The Bible’s Job.

“They would take an old idea or religious belief and explore how it was dealt with in its time and how it’s dealt with today,” he says.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles