AL DÍA honors pulmonologist Jesse Roman with Top Doctor award
“We have to show the minority community, Latino community, Hispanic community, everybody, that you can be successful. And what you need is mentorship and leadership and passion and guts, and all that kind of thing,” Roman said.
Last Thursday, AL DÍA honored Dr. Jesse Roman, a pulmonologist at Thomas Jefferson, as one of Philadelphia’s top Latino doctors.
Roman, who moved to Philadelphia less than a year ago to work as the CEO of the Jane and Leonard Korman Respiratory Institute, a collaboration of Jefferson Health and National Jewish Health, was one of the evening’s four awardees.
When receiving his award, Roman told the roughly 60 people in attendance at the Union League of Philadelphia on Jan. 24, that the award highlighted three themes for him: respiratory health, Puerto Rico and sacrifice.
“I’ve devoted my career to respiratory health and the hundreds of thousands in Pennsylvania who need help. There’s tremendous opportunity for us to make a difference with respiratory health in Pennsylvania,” he said.
He continued: “Many of you know Puerto Rico because it has billions of dollars in debt, or because it was devastated by [Hurricane] Maria. But, if any of you watched Jimmy Fallon just last week, you saw thousands of Puerto Ricans come to old San Juan to celebrate, dance, and sing and stand, just like one individual screaming at the top of their lungs: ‘estamos aquí luchando, y sí se puede’ [we’re here fighting, and yes we can].”
“That’s an important theme to celebrate.”
Roman was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and he received his M.D. from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine in 1983.
In 1986, he left the island to train as a pulmonologist at Washington University in St. Louis. He has been in stateside ever since.
Following his time in St. Louis, Roman left for Atlanta, where he worked at Emory University, first as an Assistant Professor of Medicine, and later as the Pulmonary Section Chief at the Atlanta VA.
From 2002 until 2009, he worked as a Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine.
In 2007, he was named the Associate Vice President and Director of the Emory Center for Respiratory Health.
After 18 years in Atlanta, Roman moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where for nine years he was a Distinguished University Scholar and Chairman of the Department of Medicine.
Only last February did Roman finally move to Philadelphia.
In his acceptance speech, he touched on the sacrifices that those around him have had to make to help make his career trajectory a reality. He urged the other nominees and awardees in the room not to forget those who made sacrifices in their own lives to help them along the way.
“There’s nothing relevant or worth doing that comes without sacrifice,” he said.
“I told my wife who’s in the front row, that sometimes we think about - or at least I think about - whether this sacrifice that I’ve imposed on her, and my young kids and parents, was it worthwhile? The AL DÍA award suggests that we’re on the right track,” he added.
“So honey, there’s still work to be done.”
Following the evening’s ceremony and ensuing networking reception, Roman explained to AL DÍA what receiving an award meant to him, and he reflected on the state of Latinos in the medical industry today.
“We have to show the minority community, Latino community, Hispanic community, everybody, that you can be successful. And what you need is mentorship and leadership and passion and guts, and all that kind of thing,” he said.
“This activity is an opportunity to galvanize us around that idea we can help. Receiving the award is an honor, but it’s also a call to work,” he added.