Take Wing awardee encourages others to pay it forward

Doug Zweig, M.D., ’80, 2014 E. Grey Dimond Take Wing Award winner, stands with his award and two children, Jessica Zweig, M.D., ’14, and Jason, MS 4, after delivered his Take Wing Lecture, “A Strategic Look at Non-small Cell Lung Cancer,” on May 21 at the School of Medicine.
Doug Zweig, M.D., ’80, 2014 E. Grey Dimond Take Wing Award winner, stands with his award and two children, Jessica Zweig, M.D., ’14, and Jason, MS 4, after delivering his Take Wing Lecture, “A Strategic Look at Non-small Cell Lung Cancer,” on May 21 at the School of Medicine.

Doug Zweig, M.D., ’80, believes in paying it back and paying it forward.

Growing up on a farm in Vichy, Mo., Zweig was familiar with financial limitations and saw the sacrifices being made for him.

A local physician, Dr. Emile Stricker, asked Zweig, during his senior year of high school, what he planned to do with his future. When young Zweig told him he wanted to be a physician, Stricker suggested the newly formed UMKC School of Medicine. After receiving a letter of acceptance the following spring, the next concern was how to foot the bill. A local farmer and his wife heard about the high school senior who was headed to Kansas City for medical. They had saved $3,000 and wanted to make a difference.

“While the couple did not have immediate family, they heard of an opportunity to make a difference in the life of another and provided a gift for which I will forever be grateful,” Zweig said. “Their selfless act made all the difference.”

Selfless giving of time and treasure became a significant part of Zweig’s life and career. Past president of the Friends of the UMKC School of Medicine, he has helped direct a group of involved parents, guardians and alumni create new scholarships and recreational opportunities for the School and initiate the ongoing endeavor to bring an exercise room to the School for students, staff and faculty. Christian Hospital Northeast, located in North St. Louis County has remained his central office for the past 29 years and acts not only as a primary community-based hospital but also as a safety net for the underserved in North City and County of St. Louis. Zweig serves all patients from the hospitals associated with his practice, Pulmonary Consultants, Inc., regardless of their financial situation, which, he said, is inspired by the pioneers of the School of Medicine.

“All of the icons of the School of Medicine – Drs. E. Grey Dimond, Noback, Jonas, William and Marjorie Sirridge, Langley and others were consistently engaged with the students and focused not only on the success of the school, but principally that of the students,” Zweig said. “At a time in their life when success flourishes, they changed course to start something bold and new. When you reflect on the accomplishments that the School of Medicine has achieved over the past 40 years, that is truly inspiring.”

In the fall of 2013, Zweig received the phone call informing him he was the 2014 recipient of the E. Grey Dimond Take Wing Award.

“I am very humbled that the School feels I’m worthy of this recognition, especially after reviewing its intent and significance and the individual who conceptualized this award. I hope it’s something I can live up to,” he said. “I have no plans to retire any time soon, and I’m not sure what I would do with my time if I did. Medicine is too much fun.”

Zweig joined Pulmonary Consultants, Inc., in 1985 after completing his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in pulmonary and critical care at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, Fla., and following additional instruction on interventional pulmonary medicine at the Lehey Clinic in Boston. It was during his time in Boston that he improved his skills in endoscopic NdYAG laser photo surgery, a novel approach at the time for airway management. He and his group at Pulmonary Consultants, Inc., founded the Center for Advanced Pulmonary Medicine at Christian Hospital Northeast and at the Northwest Health Center. In additional to traditional pulmonary medicine, the center offers a pulmonary rehab program, the second sleep lab in Missouri directed by a physician board-certified in sleep medicine, a pulmonary hypertension clinic and a lung cancer program for the community. They are currently working to offer a lung cancer screening program for high-risk populations in the hopes of improving the morbidity and mortality associated with this disorder.

“Medicine is one of the few fields that is constantly experiencing a renaissance of discovery and allows those who desire a new experience on a daily basis,” he said. “Applying science to patient care is my passion. We’re not in the business of immortality but rather improving the quality of life for those individuals who seek our council. When patients benefit from our actions, that provides immense satisfaction and kindles the fire to do better each day.”

Striving to bring new technologies to his community of patients and working jointly with Christian Hospital and the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine, Christian Hospital was the first to offer minimally invasive surgical techniques using video-assisted thorascopic and robotic lung surgery to St. Louis, as well as navigational bronchoscopy to a community-based facility. His involvement in medical leadership at Christian Hospital includes being past chairman of the intensive care unit and pharmacy committees; a member of the board of directors for the past 14 years; co-director of the Department of Respiratory Therapy & Pulmonary Function Lab; and past secretary/treasurer and current chief of stafffor Christian Northeast Hospital and Northwest Health Center.

Throughout the past seven years, Zweig has reconnected with and has donated his time to the School of Medicine.

“At times it feels like coming home, a place where formative years were spent and friendships were developed,” he said.”

Zweig’s daughter, Jessica, is a 2014 graduate and is following in her father’s footsteps as she heads to the University of South Florida College of Medicine for her internal medicine residency. His son, Jason, is a fourth year student at the School of Medicine.

In addition to his professional activities and service to the School, he has devoted his life to his wife, Dee, who has been a constant source of support, including his adventures in sailing, flying and scuba diving.

“Life is about balance, following your passion, restoring your spirit on a daily basis and becoming personally involved,” Zweig said. “You’re the only person with your particular talent and time, and only you can offer it to others. Donations are wonderful and needed, but time is something that cannot be replaced. At some point, each of us have to decide who we are, what we are willing to do and when that will occur. There is a time and place for everything, but if it truly matters, now is the time.”