Subject: UI alum returns from East Timor to receive honor
 

Daily Iowan

UI alum returns from East Timor to receive honor

BY CLAIRE PERLMAN | JUNE 11, 2010 7:30 AM

Dan Murphy says he's always had a thing for the underdog.

From setting up field clinics for migrant workers striking with Cesar Chavez during the '70s to joining the revolution in East Timor in 1998, Murphy shares that defiant spark of the long-shot.

'I've always been stubborn,' said University of Iowa College of Medicine alumnus Murphy, 65. 'Even when I was little, I didn't like people telling me what to do. And I don't like to see underdogs get kicked around.'

Murphy's defiant spark happened before Vietnam. Like so many students, he was against the war. And like those other students, he didn't have to worry about the draft, about having to go to Southeast Asia and fight people he'd never known.

Then he graduated with a medical degree in 1970 and the government called his number.

'I was young ' I was 26 when that happened,' Murphy said. 'But I was old enough to start thinking for myself a bit and see that this isn't right.'

Murphy's ultimately allegiance to the little guy brought him to East Timor, where a tiny population was warring for independence against Indonesia. He was harassed, arrested, even beaten, but it didn't stop him from stitching up gunshot wounds.

'In 1999, there was bloodshed everywhere ' you have tiny country trying to revolt against 220 million people,' Murphy said. 'I knew I could help sick people one-on-one anywhere, but I knew I needed to be a part of the struggle. I had to go for it. And we won against all odds.'

But even after the Indonesian military left, Murphy stayed. Over the past 10 years, he has operated a clinic in Dili, the nation's capital. He isn't treating revolutionaries anymore. He's treating poverty.

'Tuberculosis, where everyone coughs and everyone gets it. Malaria. Diahrrea. HIV is coming up, too,' Murphy said. 'You get tired, of course, but I've got the best job in the world. I don't have to deal with insurance, lawyers ' I just get to see sick people.'

Murphy is one of five outstanding UI alumni who will receive awards from the Carver College of Medicine. The Distinguished Alumni Awards, established in 1998, honor those individuals who have made significant professional achievements in their field and have had positive influence in the worlds of science and medicine.

'There is a trend in this year's awards,' said Chad Rudack, assistant vice president for external relations at the medical school. 'All of these individuals have had some effect on the global environment ' medical service especially.'

Timothy Holtz received the early achievement award. Holtz graduated from the medical school in 1991 and went on to spearhead a fight against multi-drug resistant strains of tuberculosis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Since then, his work has taken him to the Baltic countries, to India and now to Thailand, where he is primarily working against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease.

Holtz, who grew up in Ames, was supposed to receive this award last year, but he was unable to get back to the United States to accept it.

 


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