College of American Pathologists Member Earns National Award
By Carol Robinson - The Birmingham News
A Jefferson County physician has been awarded the nation's most prestigious award for medical examiners.
Dr. Gregory G. Davis, Jefferson County's chief coroner/medical examiner, received the 2016 Milton Helpern Award from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Davis took over the county position following the 2013 death of longtime Jefferson County Medical Examiner Robert Brissie who was found dead at his Hoover home on his 70th birthday in 2013. Brissie had been the medical examiner since 1980.
Davis accepted the award at the AAFS's 68th Annual Scientific Meeting held in late February in Nevada. He is also the director of the Forensic Division of UAB's Department of Pathology.
"I was humbled, to see all of the previous recipients and to think I would be considered by my peers worthy of being on that list,'' Davis said. "I didn't grasp how big it was until I looked and saw what all it entailed. I've just been doing my work."
Davis has held multiple offices with the AAFS and served on many committees with the association. The husband, and father of two daughters, attended college and medical school at Vanderbilt University, and also completed his pathology residency there. He did his forensic pathology fellowship at the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office and obtained his Master of Science in Public Health from UAB. He joined the Jefferson County Coroner/ Medical Examiner's Office in 1993.
His most noted published articles include a comparison of heart mass in seizure patients dying of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy to sudden death due to some other cause, the relationship of drug abuse to unexplained sudden death, recommendations for the investigation, diagnosis, and certification deaths related to opioid drugs.
The Jefferson County Coroner/Medical Examiner's Office investigates about 25% of the deaths occurring in Jefferson County. Notification is made when there is suspicion of criminal violence or criminal neglect, when death occurs in suspicious or unusual circumstances and when deaths are thought to result from trauma or violence.
Milton Helpern was the most famous chief medical examiner for the City of New York, called " Sherlock Holmes with a microscope." Born in East Harlem, Helpern joined the New York City Medical Examiner office in 1931 and became its chief in 1954. During his 20-year tenure, he performed over 20,000 autopsies, and was also a key witness in some infamous murder trials. He died in 1977 at the age of 75.