Current Radiology Chair Continues Past Chair's Legacy

May 15, 2024

DeLano leads, champions preservation of MSU's beloved Radiology Healing Gardens.

"Our purpose in life is to enhance opportunities for others.”

Dr. E. James Potchen (1932-2022)

Those who have visited the Radiology Healing Gardens at Michigan State University understand how special they are. The flowers, birds, and waterfalls open all the senses. It’s a special place to slow down and think, or simply sit and find the comfort which can come from spending time in the peaceful outdoors. 

To preserve these unique gardens, Department of Radiology Chair and College of Human Medicine Professor Dr. Mark DeLano and his wife Teri have contributed funds to the Radiology Healing Garden Endowed Fund to support the maintenance and upkeep of the gardens which Dr. James Potchen—an MSU graduate who served as the Department of Radiology chair for more than 30 years—lovingly established 25 years ago.

“Jim Potchen was a force who transformed how we think about radiology today, growing the entire radiology department from scratch,” DeLano said warmly. “He is why I’m in an academic role now, and through this endowment, we are not only seeing good, beautiful things be preserved, we’re also building on Jim’s legacy.”

Dr. James Potchen (1932-2022) standing in the Radiology Healing Gardens.In the decades he spent at MSU, Potchen introduced many new technologies including CT and Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) technology, a type of MRI scan which examines the body’s blood vessels. According to DeLano, Potchen was “a master of collaboration.” Potchen built community and brought scientists and physicians together, teaching others to appreciate art, beauty, nature, and of course science. These collaborative interactions foster innovation, a key premise of his vision for the department, the Radiology Building, and its surrounding gardens.

While Potchen held many roles—physician, scholar, lawyer, world traveler—his true love of nature is what led him to develop the Radiology Healing Gardens in the 1990s. Complete with waterfalls and a greenhouse, there are hundreds of plant species in the gardens, including a legendary peony which Potchen brought back to the U.S. from Sweden, and a large copper beech tree he had transplanted there in memory of his late mother.

The copper beech tree is situated just outside the radiology chair’s office window, serving as a constant reminder to DeLano of Potchen’s example of life, growth and renewal, and the need to occasionally stop and enjoy natural surroundings.

“I really appreciated the ways Jim [Potchen] continuously sought to enhance human capital and help others succeed,” said DeLano. “He mentored thousands across all walks of life, including me, academicians and professionals in industry who went on to become organizational leaders.”

As a neuroradiology expert, DeLano’s achievements at MSU over the past 30 years, including succeeding Potchen and being named department chair in 2022, have been significant.

With expertise in patient-centered translational research, DeLano’s work is focused on advanced magnetic resonance applications to all organ systems. In 2008, when the College of Human Medicine moved its headquarters to Grand Rapids, he led the Division of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging from its inception to foster rapid growth of the college’s academic mission.

Not only has DeLano grown a clinical enterprise with McLaren Greater Lansing and other public-private partners, he’s also brokered an advanced PET MRI being unveiled at MSU this fall. He is continually working to develop cutting-edge translational therapies for earlier diagnosis and to identify disease, particularly when precise treatments are more effective for the restoration of patient health.

Mark DeLano sitting next to Dr. Potchen statue.As the department moves into its next era, DeLano is leading the convergence of imaging insights and advancements to treat disease through the transformation of health care delivery. And suffice to say there’s many reasons for the late Dr. Potchen to be proud of DeLano and his leadership thus far of the radiology department—with the endowed fund for the Healing Gardens being only one.

Join DeLano and others by supporting and preserving the Radiology Healing Gardens for generations to come.

Give Now to support the Radiology Healing Gardens

By Sarah Enlow