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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Myra Lee Muramoto, M.D.

Picture of Myra Lee Muramoto
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Myra Lee Muramoto, M.D.

“I don't come from a medical family. I was thinking of being an artist but became interested in being a doctor when my mother became ill with diabetes in my sophomore year of high school. I then did a professional internship to find out more and was matched with Dr. Winter Griffith, founder of the University of Arizona's family medicine program. And that's when I got interested in family medicine.”

NOMINATING CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

Jim Kolbe

“INSPIRATIONAL ANTI-TOBACCO INNOVATOR, EDUCATOR AND ADVOCATE ”

BIOGRAPHY

An extraordinary physician who has made significant contributions to the complex, critically important field of substance abuse, particularly tobacco cessation, Myra Muramoto is associate professor of Family and Community Medicine and Public Health at the University of Arizona, active in both research and medical education -- in addition to her work as a family physician providing prenatal services and delivering babies!

She is an impassioned fighter for improved care of the medically underserved, regarded as a leader and role model for women who is helping to change the face of medicine through her research, innovation and dedication. She was nominated to be a Local Legend of Medicine by Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ-8), who calls her a "truly commendable, outstanding physician."

"As a physician, you have a privileged viewpoint in people's lives," Muramoto believes. "It's also a huge responsibility."

From her family practitioner perspective, she observes, "Health and well-being is more than the absence of physical or mental disease. An illness affects the individual, the family and society, too. If the individual loses his or her role in the family-as "breadwinner," for example-they lose their personal meaning. If the physician doesn't account for this, you miss a big part of what's wrong."

Muramoto has dedicated most of her career as an educator and researcher to substance-abuse education and treatment, especially on alcohol and tobacco use. "Substance abuse treatment is a very interesting, complex problem, at once physical, mental, emotional, social and political," she says. "The death and destruction from illicit drugs pales in comparison to that from tobacco and alcohol!"

As an educator, she has helped to develop national and international projects to train health care and human service providers in prevention, screening and treatment of alcohol and tobacco use disorders. Much of her work has explored innovative ways to increase assistance for tobacco cessation at the community level, including low-income pregnant women, and Southwest Native Americans and Hispanic communities. She declares, "You have to love it; the patients, the people. I love working with students and preparing the next generation of physicians."

Internationally, she is focused on addressing the tobacco epidemic in developing countries, including India and Indonesia, and as a consultant to the World Bank Group on community-based quit-smoking projects. "We are trying to help ordinary people help their loved ones to quit, and the stories of former smokers-told in their own words-are very powerful tools in this regard," she reports.

A founding member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Center for Child Health Research Tobacco Consortium, she has served on the Emerging Science Advisory Panel for the American Legacy Foundation. She is certified by the American Board of Family Practice and belongs to the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Society of Addiction Medicine, Society for Teachers of Family Medicine and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

After completing her medical degree, internship and residency at the University of Arizona, Muramoto served as a staff physician at St. Mary's and Kino hospitals, and as Associate Medical Director for Education and Research at Sierra Tucson, a nationally recognized addiction recovery facility.

MILESTONES

1981

Earns B.S. with "high distinction" in Nutritional Science, University of Arizona College of Agriculture

1985

Receives MD from University of Arizona College of Medicine

1988-1989

Becomes Chief Resident/Faculty Development Fellow, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine

1992

Becomes Director and Project Manager for baseline epidemiology survey for the Lesotho (Africa) Highlands Water Project

1993-2000

Becomes Medical Director, Arizona Program for Nicotine and Tobacco Research, with administrative and clinical responsibility for multiple clinical trials involving more than 5,000 subjects

1994

Appointed Assistant Professor of Clinical Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine

1996-2004

Selected four times by her peers as one of "The Best Doctors in America"

1999

Earns MPH degree in epidemiology, Arizona Graduate Program in Public Health, University of Arizona

BORN

1959

MEDICAL SCHOOL

University of Arizona College of Medicine

SPECIALTY

Family Practice

LOCATION

Arizona