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 dr. charles modlin talking to a patient

Shaker's Medical Innovators
Dr. Charles Modlin

African-American men are 66 percent more likely than their white counterparts to get prostate cancer and twice as likely to die from the disease. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, African Americans are at an increased risk of dying from any number of cancers. They're also more likely to suffer from diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. These are just some of the health disparities experienced by minority populations that Dr. Charles Modlin is determined to change.

After I completed my medical training, I was able to step back and take a broader view of the medical landscape," says Modlin, a urologist and kidney transplant surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. "And I became aware of the health-care disparities that afflict African-American and other minority populations."

What Modlin discovered was that to be a member of a minority in the United States is to be at risk for a host of adverse health outcomes. So, in 2003, Modlin launched the Clinic's annual Minority Men's Health Fair and, a year later, the Minority Men's Health Center of the Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute. His goal: help correct health disparities by ensuring that patients have access to care that is effective for them. "Medicine is not a cookbook," says Modlin. "We have to individualize how we deliver care for every patient."

A Life in Medicine

For Modlin, the journey to medicine began during his childhood in New Castle, Indiana. "When my grandmother went into a nursing home, we would visit her every day," he recalls. "I'd bring her water, wheel her into the dining hall. It gave me an inside look into helping take care of people."

Later, in high school, Modlin worked as an orderly at the local hospital. "You would turn patients, take vitals, things like that. That gave me an inside look into medicine." At Northwestern University, Modlin studied chemistry, then went on to medical school, also at Northwestern, and then a six-year residency at New York University, where he met his wife, Dr. Sheryl Modlin, a pediatric anesthesiologist.

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A chance encounter led Modlin to Cleveland. "I went to the annual conference of the American Urological Association and there was a group from the Clinic presenting on kidney transplantation and renal vascular surgery. They announced there was a fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic."

He applied, was accepted, and after completing the fellowship, joined the Clinic. The family settled in Shaker. "We picked Shaker for the schools," says Modlin, who is also executive director for minority health at the Clinic and president-elect Medical Staff Officer of the Clinic's medical staff.

Three of the Modlin's four children have graduated from Shaker Schools; their youngest is now a junior. Modlin regularly sponsors students in the High School's Senior Projects program.

Thursday, June 22, 2017