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

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: M. Therese Southgate, M.D.

Picture of M. Therese Southgate

M. Therese Southgate, M.D.

“I was eight when I decided to be a journalist, 28 when I decided be a doctor. I have been incredibly lucky to be both, to do what I have a passion for!”


Danny K. Davis



For almost 30 years as Cover Editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Southgate has been selecting the front covers of JAMA and writing the highly insightful, lyrical essays which have made her famous among physicians across the U.S. and around the world.

"In her weekly choices of magnificent art and her essays, she has truly enriched the profession and changed the face of medicine," declares Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL-7), who nominated Southgate as a Local Legend.

Now in semi-retirement-if continuing to look at fine art, rehabbing space in a historic Chicago high-rise for her writing studio, and finishing a murder mystery set in a medieval English town can be called that!-she began researching and writing her JAMA essays because she wanted to know more about the art she was seeing. Over the years, she has contributed more than 700 articles, which have been collected and appeared in book form, first in 1997 and again in 2001, earning such rave reviews as: "M. Therese Southgate brings an intelligent, inquisitive, and thoroughly fresh approach to viewing art-its subject matter as well as its artists."

In the second volume, which further explores the connection between the physician and the artist, Southgate reflects, "If art reminds us of our human condition, even more so does the practice of medicine, in which we recognize that all-patient as well as caregiver-are afflicted beings...The very act of painting a picture signifies hope, as does the act of treating a patient. That is why patient's paint and physicians practice medicine."

A native of Detroit, Southgate received her undergraduate degree, in chemistry from the College of St. Francis in Joliet, earned her MD degree from the Marquette University School of Medicine (now Medical College of Wisconsin), in 1960, and completed a rotating internship at St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco before joining the JAMA staff in 1962 as Senior Editor. In 1974 she was made both Cover Editor and Deputy Editor, holding the latter position until being named Senior Contributing Editor in 1988. From 1982 to 1988, she also directed the Fishbein Fellowship in Medical Journalism.

Southgate has been widely recognized for her writing, twice winning the essay award from Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society chartered by the State of Illinois in 1903 to recognize and perpetuate excellence in the medical profession. In addition to her voluminous contributions to the JAMA, Southgate also has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, Science Digest, Reader's Digest, Commonweal, the Marquette Medical Review and many others.



Named Senior Editor, Journal of the American Medical Association


Becomes Cover Editor, Journal of the American Medical Association.




Medical College of Wisconsin


Surgical Medicine

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