Gino Gianola is a nationally recognized pioneering PA, PA clinician, educator, veterans advocate and bioethicist. He joined the MEDEX Northwest University of Washington (UW) faculty immediately after graduating in the eighth MEDEX class (1975). He spent most of his 46-year professional PA career at the UW until his retirement in 2021. It was not atypical for students to be asked to join a PA faculty immediately after graduation during the formative years of the PA profession when the number of PAs serving on faculty were few. Like many others, he learned the art of teaching on the job, by attending conferences, seminars, reading and relying on colleagues for support and advice. In addition, he had seasoned mentors to emulate. Over time, he taught a variety of courses including problem-based learning, professional role development and ethics – an area of interest he developed later in his career. The Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and the PA Foundation (PAF) have all benefitted from his involvement and support. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of PAs and been a feature editor of the Journal of Physician Assistant Education as with other professional publications. He served in the AAPA House of Delegates and on the PAF Board of Trustees. He is also a founder member and past member of the Board of Directors (2010-2015) of the PA History Society.
Gianola, a native resident of Seattle, WA, joined the US Army immediately after graduating high school in 1965. After basic training he attended basic medic school and then spent one year in medical training. Shortly after medical training, he was sent to Vietnam where he was assigned to an evacuation hospital in the Mekong Delta south of Saigon working in the post-op intensive care unit. After Vietnam, he spent a year in Turkey before being discharged. While in Vietnam he heard through “the grapevine” about a new profession being developed in Seattle at the University of Washington called MEDEX, and that they were recruiting military veterans trained as medics and hospital corpsmen. After being discharged, he applied to the MEDEX program and was accepted after 3 attempts. While he was waiting to gain admission into MEDEX, he and four friends cofounded Country Doctor Community Clinic. As a MEDEX graduate he continued to work at the Country Doctor Community Clinic serving as a member of the MEDEX clinical faculty.
In 1979, Gianola was hired as the first PA to work at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda MD. At the time they were experimenting with best ways to treat gastrointestinal and rectal cancers. The medical staff was puzzled about seeing an increase of young white male patients with Karposi’s sarcoma; a disease more prominent in older men and more commonly seen in Mediterranean countries. Unknown at the time, the increased prevalence was due to the AIDs virus. Once they determined that these patients were immune deficient, he began working with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who at the time, was director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, to find out if a virus was involved. Later, Fauci became one of the federal government most visible figures during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. While living in Washington DC, he married a local woman, Ester in 1980 and the family grew to include two sons, Gabriel and Mich. He returned to Seattle in 1989 to help start an AIDS Clinical Trial Unit at the UW. In 1992, he rejoined the faculty of MEDEX fulltime serving many years as Clinical Coordinator.
In 1999, Gianola attended a weeklong Summer Seminar in Clinical Ethics sponsored by the UW Department of Bioethics and Humanities. Sparked by his experience in Vietnam, he decided to take a formal one-year course for a Certificate in Healthcare Ethics that he completed in 2000. After completing the certificate program, he began teaching bioethics to MEDEX students and worked in the Department of Bioethics and Humanities teaching in the summer Basic Research Integrity Program. His passion for bioethics propelled him to complete a Master of Arts in Bioethics and Humanities program in late 2013.
Acknowledgments: This Biographical Sketch was prepared by Reginald Carter with assistance from Mr. Gianola and was submitted to the Society in November 2021. The portrait photograph is courtesy of Mr. Gianola and other photographs are from the PAHx Society’s digital archives. Information in this biography were extracted from an article that appeared on the PAEA Online website (Longtime MEDEX Faculty Member Gino Gianola Retires | PAEA (paeaonline.org) and from biographical material posted on the University of Washington website (FJ Gino Gianola, MA, PA, DFAAPA | UW Department of Bioethics & Humanities (washington.edu).