The Late Dr. John Pagliano, DPM, Honored in New Memorial Student Scholarship

Jess D. Taylor

The John W. Pagliano, DPM ’66 Memorial Scholarship in Podiatric Biomechanics has been awarded to Diana Kvach.

On March 2, 2023, the first Dr. John W. Pagliano, DPM ’66 Memorial Scholarship in Podiatric Biomechanics was awarded to Diana Kvach in a White Coat Ceremony for the class of 2026. The first-generation college student will receive a scholarship of $60,000 to support tuition and costs during her second year.

“My brother John was both a leader and an inspiration in the field of podiatric sports medicine, and I am really pleased to honor his memory at the college that launched both of our careers in podiatry, as well as our father’s,” said Dr. W. Dennis Pagliano, DPM ’72, who, together with his wife, Connie Pagliano, established the scholarship in 2022.

First-year students who demonstrated academic excellence, an interest in and aptitude for biomechanics, and financial need were eligible to apply for the scholarship. Some 80% of the class applied.

The podiatrist Dr. John Pagliano, who died in 2012 from cancer, left an indelible mark on the field of podiatric biomechanics. Along with this father (class of 1931) and his younger brother Dennis (class of 1972), John was an alumnus of the California College of Podiatric Medicine (CCPM) in San Francisco (class of 1966). Two years after graduating, he competed in the first-ever U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Though he didn’t make the cut as a competitive athlete, he did join the team as one of the very first podiatrists.

An avid runner, Dr. Pagliano completed over 500 races, including 86 marathons and six 50-mile ultramarathons in his lifetime. “He could relate to all the athletes, and totally understood that when your foot hurts you hurt all over,” said Dr. Dutra, DPM, who first met John in 1981 at a meeting of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, the leading organization promoting knowledge about lower-extremity sports medicine.

During Dr. Dutra’s podiatric sports medicine post graduate fellowship in Dr. Pagliano’s Long Beach private practice, they treated many professional athletes from local Los Angeles teams the Lakers, the Dodgers, and the Rams. “John was humble and didn’t toot his own horn, but there were so many success stories. He was so good at getting runners and athletes back to the condition they were in before the injury,” recalled Dr. Dutra.

“He also contributed to my philosophy to treat every patient as an athlete,” said Dutra, a podiatric consultant for intercollegiate athletics for the University of California at Berkeley, and previously for the Golden State Warriors basketball team. He explained: “We tend to be more proactive with treating athletes and getting to the root cause. What I call my two-pronged approach to treatment involves not just treating symptoms but also the etiology of the condition.”

At the White Coat Ceremony, Dr. Dutra explained that Dr. John Pagliano was “one of the ‘Pod Fathers’ who helped to start the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM) way back in the 1970s.” Dr. Dutra, also an alum of CCPM, remembers Dr. Pagliano, who served as the third president of the AAPSM, as a humorous, entertaining speaker who loved education and lectured nationally.

Scholarship recipient Diana Kvach decided to go into medicine after volunteering with medics in East Africa when she was still in high school. She remembers encountering a father and his teenage son, who had a broken leg, in an abandoned hospital in South Sudan. A victim of the country’s civil war, the boy had been unable to flee with the rest of his family. “The doctors had used a weighted rock to suspend his leg in a cast,” she said, impressed with their “amazing ingenuity.”