A Pioneer and Visionary
Dr. Saunders developed his clinical and leadership skills at a time when there were few African American colleagues, and even fewer mentors within the field of medicine. He became the first African American resident in internal medicine at the University of Maryland School Of Medicine in 1960, and the first African American cardiologist in the state of Maryland in 1965. He was also integral in abolishing segregated hospital wards at what was then University Hospital (now the University of Maryland Medical Center). Despite the challenges, Dr. Saunders followed his own vision for equality in health care and became a compassionate leader for what was, at the time, an often overlooked patient population.
Founding Board Member of The Medi
Dr. Saunders was a founding board member, of The Medi and had served as one of the Chairs of the Medi Medical Neighborhood Forum and Trailblazers in Healthcare Award Reception. At this event, Dr. Saunders challenged everyone in attendance to continue the work of sharing best practices and connecting communities to resources, and to forge partnerships to promote patient-centered care. It is with great honor that The Advisory Board of The Medi recognizes his contributions to medicine, healthcare, and community by renaming our Trailblazers in Healthcare Award to the Dr. Elijah Saunders, MD Trailblazers Award. Dr. Saunders was indeed a trailblazer and was very instrumental to our establishing The Medi. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten for all that he has given, created, and established.
A Legacy of Leadership
Dr. Saunders was a founding member, past chairman of the board, and past president of the Association of Black Cardiologists; past president, chairman of the board, and founder of both the International Society of Hypertension in Blacks (ISHIB), and the (former) Urban Cardiology Research Center, Inc. He was the co-founder of Heart House of the American College of Cardiology; a charter member of the American Society of Hypertension; past president of the Maryland High Blood Pressure Coordinating Council; former commissioner of the Maryland High Blood Pressure Commission; and chairman, Maryland Advisory Council on High Blood Pressure and related Cardiovascular Risk Factors.
He was to receive the Dean’s Distinguished Gold Medal at the 2015 SOM Graduation exercises for his exemplary life and work. The SOM Office of Development and the Department of Medicine were working toward finalizing funds to establish a $1.5M Elijah Saunders Endowed Professorship in recognition of his lifetime of accomplishments.