51-year-old UIHC doc a triathlete

BY SAM ODEYEMI | JUNE 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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At a first glance, one might assume Professor Thomas Scholz is all work as the pediatric cardiologist sits in his University of Iowa office surrounded by medical books and various awards.

But his office decorations don’t tell the whole story.

What isn’t immediately apparent is that Scholz is an accomplished triathlete. The 51-year-old has competed in numerous triathlons, his favorite being last summer. The event was a fundraiser for Camp Courageous, a center for children with disabilities in Anamosa, Iowa.

“It was just a short triathlon, but it was so well-organized, and you had a good feeling doing something for the kids,” he said. It was his first Iowa triathlon.

When Scholz is not working at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, he is usually training for races by jogging along the river or cycling around Iowa City. He said one of his favorite places to ride is the hill around the Pentacrest and Old Capitol Town Center.

He also owns an endless pool in his home that allows him to train at his own convenience. Scholz sets a current to swim against, and the pool has become an important piece of equipment for the avid triathlete.

Scholz also puts energy into Dance Marathon, an organization that provides support to young cancer patients and their families.

“The Dance Marathon is the most amazing organization I have been involved with,” he said. “It’s amazing how much money it raises, [especially because] this is a student-run organization. All these students work like crazy to get this event organized.”

Scholz earned a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in 1981 and an M.D. from the Washington University School of Medicine in 1985. He completed his residency and pediatric cardiology fellowship at the UI in 1991, and began working at the UI Hospitals and Clinics in 1993 after doing research work for two years.

UI Professor Emeritus Douglas Behrendt, who worked with Scholz for 15 years, said he saw Scholz as a vital member of the cardiology team — cardiac surgeons and pediatric cardiologists work together to figure out what kind of operation needs to be performed, and the cardiologist usually sits in on the operation.

“He’s wonderful to work with,” Behrendt said. “I started working with him when he was new in the department and rising up the ranks, and now he’s the head of the department.

“He has a lot of interests outside the hospital, but also has done a lot of good research.”

UI Assistant Professor Heather Bartlett, who has also worked with Scholz for more than a decade, said she could describe her 11-year colleague with one word: optimistic.

“He is a remarkable optimist — he sees the good that can come out of any situation,” she said. “He sets the groundwork for what you need to do to reach your goal, and he cheers you on as you try to complete them.”

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