Raskin, Philip

Raskin, PhilipUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
Diabetes Researcher and Clifton and Betsy Robinson Chair in Biomedical Research
CLASS OF 1962 

“It was simple,” Dr. Philip Raskin says. “They said, ‘If you get through our pre-med curriculum we almost guarantee you entrance into medical school.’” This promise offered by Washington & Jefferson College attracted Raskin to the small college near his hometown of Carnegie. Little did he know that in addition to a fine education, he would make lifelong friends. Two years later, when his father died, Raskin turned to his Zeta Beta Tau fraternity brothers for solace. He also was comforted by one of his political science professors. “He put his arm around me and it meant a lot when I was only 19,” Raskin recalls.

While at W&J, Raskin served as social chair and president of his fraternity, learning creative problem solving as the fraternity members worked to build an organization from the ground up. After the fraternity rented a house on Beau Street, they discovered that there was not enough room for everyone to live there. So, he and his roommate, Bob Kirschner, begged some wood from Raskin’s father and enclosed the front porch to increase the living area. After that, the fraternity bought an old stove and refrigerator from a local synagogue to complete their fraternity kitchen. He remembers learning a lot from his roommate, who took him to symphonies that he would never have attended on his own.

Upon graduation from W&J and medical school, Raskin interned and completed his residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is now a diabetes researcher and holds the Clifton and Betsy Robinson Chair in Biomedical Research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, where he earns international recognition for his work. One of his responsibilities is teaching medical residents, which he says he enjoys tremendously.

The most important thing that Raskin says he learned in college was not the zoology, chemistry, or math—it was the liberal arts. The majority of doctors “only know the innards of a sand rat,” says Raskin. “They have never learned how to think on their own.” Raskin believes that the ability to think on your own is essential to success in all fields, and it is developed excellently at W&J.