If anyone embodies UVA’s medical education mission, it’s retired professor of obstetrics and gynecology Peyton T. Taylor Jr., M.D. A new scholarship fund established in his honor allows residents and fellows in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to conduct faculty-mentored research during their training at UVA—and honors his legacy of compassionate care.
Last fall, the much-beloved cancer physician and educator—affectionately known as “PT”—was honored at a benefit dinner that raised $850,000 for the Peyton T. Taylor Endowed Research Scholarship Fund, surpassing an initial $500,000 goal. Melissa Oliver (Law ’81), helped lead the way with a significant gift. The OB/GYN department also lent major support, with contributions from all its faculty members. Other donors included Carolyn and Bill Achenbach, and Donna (Nurs ’70) and Wallace Nunley, M.D. (Med ’73).
In all, more than 200 donors supported the fund, including many School of Medicine alumni and former patients. Thanks to the event’s success, a new goal of $1 million has been set, and the first Peyton T. Taylor Research Scholars were named this spring.
“The scholarships will bolster our ability to remain competitive in recruiting and training strong physicians for the future.”
The Importance of Faculty Mentors
The Peyton T. Taylor Endowed Research Scholarships will help train the next generation of doctors who will change women’s lives around the world by fostering discovery and scholarly inquiry. The funds will pair interested residents and fellows with faculty mentors who can provide them with valuable experience and insight. At the same time, the scholarships will encourage cross-Grounds collaborations between the School of Medicine and other programs at UVA, such as law, business or education—all focused on improving women’s health.
Dr. Taylor’s career might have been very different without similar research opportunities. “I can never directly pay back those who mentored and inspired me,” he said. “However, I hope these scholarships are a way to support those who follow.”
“The scholarships will bolster our ability to remain competitive in recruiting and training strong physicians for the future. This is especially important given the scarcity of funding for researchers,” said OB/GYN department chair Jef Ferguson, M.D.
“Your teachers, the ones that really made an impression, stay with you.”
The Heart and Soul of UVA Medicine
Everyone seems to have a story to tell about “PT,” who spent 39 years on the UVA medical faculty. Early in her fellowship, Jennifer Young Pierce (Engr ’97, Grad Arts & Sciences ’07) was called into Dr. Taylor’s office. “I worried I had made some mistake,” she recalled. “However, it was because he’d heard I was interested in cervical cancer and had worked in Africa. He wondered if I would be interested in going to Tanzania with him. He was a man inspired by the opportunities he saw there.” Four trips later, Dr. Pierce was on her way to a career in gynecologic oncology.
“Whenever you train in medicine, you realize that your teachers, the ones that really made an impression, stay with you,” she said. “They speak to you in moments of crisis, and the old sayings come back to you in the wee hours when you need them the most. PT is the voice in my head.”
As the first fellows embark on their projects, the relationships they form and the careers they follow will represent the latest in UVA’s long tradition of mentorship—an aspect of Dr. Taylor’s legacy that lives on.