Dr. Mark N. Feinglos, is a Professor of Medicine at Duke University Medical Centre where he is Chief of the Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition Division. Dr. Feinglos completed a B.Sc. degree at McGill University prior to pursuing a career in medicine.
He is an endocrinologist who has collected minerals since the age of five. On visits to Rochester, New York, he met Bill Pinch, who inspired him to collect. “This [meeting with Bill Pinch] was a seminal moment for him. He saw what was possible for a private individual to do, given enough knowledge and seriousness of purpose.” This close personal tie to Bill Pinch, another amateur mineralogist who has made significant contributions to the field, made being selected to receive the Pinch Medal a special honor for Mark. Mark then went on to contrast the fields of medicine and mineralogy. The former has become so highly specialized that it is no longer possible for the amateur to make contributions.
Mineralogy is one of the few scientific disciplines in which amateurs can still contribute significantly to current scientific progress. Thousands of mineral collectors and mineral dealers worldwide collaborate with the scientific community to the great benefit of mineralogy as a whole. In order to recognize these contributions, the Mineralogical Association of Canada instituted the Pinch medal to be awarded biannually at the world’s premier mineral show, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.
The second recipient of the Pinch medal is Dr. Mark N. Feinglos, Professor of Medicine at Duke University Medical Centre where he is Chief of the Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition Division. Despite the considerable demands of his career, Mark has focused much attention on his passion for mineralogy. He has established one of the premier private mineral collections in the world. Mark has both a keen eye and a keen appreciation for the scientific aspects of mineralogy, and has graciously made many superb specimens available to mineralogists for study. Mark works with scientists at major U.S. museums such as Smithsonian and Harvard, universities such as Notre Dame, and government agencies such as the Geological Survey of Canada. Mark can recognize most species under the micro-scope, and has used this remarkable skill to identify species of unusual scientific interest. His appreciation for complex mineral associations has led to the discovery and/or description of six new species including paganoite, dukeite, and gallobeudantite. The mineral feinglosite, which Mark discovered, was named in 1997.
Mark is a fine amateur mineralogist who has focused on mineralogy because of his love for the subject. His dedication and substantial support of the professional mineralogical community make him an ideal recipient of the 2003 Pinch Medal.
“I want first of all to thank the members of the Mineralogical Association of Canada for this significant honor. You may be interested to know that this is the second award I have received from Canada related to geology. I began collecting minerals almost 50 years ago to the day, when my aunt sent me a small collection for my 5th birthday. I vividly remember my mother’s distress as I ignored all my other presents and focused exclusively on these treasures that completely captivated me. Shortly thereafter, my mother made the first of many trips with me from Syracuse to Rochester, NY to visit Ward’s, where throughout my childhood, I would pester David Jensen. I had obtained volumes 1 and 2 of the seventh edition of Dana’s System, and I wanted to see, and acquire, everything I read about. I will never forget the excitement of driving to what seemed my own personal grocery store of minerals, and poring over each of the many drawers to see what prizes were hiding there that I might be able to afford.
In college, at McGill, I discovered the mineral collection at the Redpath Museum, furthering my mineralogical education there for eight years. While at McGill, I also received my first geology award, a scholarship from the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. By the end of my junior year however, I had decided to pursue medical training. I thought that the interviewers would find the combination of mineralogy and medicine a little odd but, to my surprise, three of the five founders of the medical school at McGill had been seriously interested in mineralogy, as were many other physicians of the 18th and early 19th centuries. It was only much later that I realized that the skills one uses to develop a differential diagnosis of an unidentified disease from a set of observations are essentially the same as those used to recognize an unidentified mineral.
I pursued my interest in mineralogy throughout medical school as best I could. Then in 1971, on a visit to Rochester, I first met my dear friend Bill Pinch. What was supposed to be a brief visit lasted most of the night. This was a seminal moment for me, for I saw what a private individual can do, given enough knowledge and seriousness of purpose. Bill actually wrote me a 2-page letter after my visit, talking about the visit and inviting me to return. At the time, I didn’t realize how rare a substantial written communication from Bill is. Of course, in more than 30 years, I have never received another letter from him.
That first visit to Bill revitalized my interest in minerals, despite my time limitations, and mineralogy has remained my passion all these years. The reason that I find this medal such a particular honor is that, especially in my other life, I see myself as primarily a scientist. I have been fortunate enough to make some contributions to my field of medicine, which is endocrinology and metabolism. The concept that I might also be able to make a real scientific contribution to mineralogy grew from watching Bill as a model and from his continued encouragement over the years. Therefore, I accept with great pride this medal named in his honor.
I would like to thank the many good friends I have made in the professional and amateur mineralogy communities for their support and assistance through the years. I would particularly like to thank my wonderful children, Daniel and Becki, for patiently listening to me talk about minerals so often. I am especially appreciative of my daughter, who has been forced to accept substantial amounts of jewelry as a side effect of my mineralogical interests. How she has suffered!
Finally, I would like to thank my late wife, Susan, who endured my collecting habits, including the hours spent in my mineral room and many less than desirable side trips on vacations, for many years without complaint. As a Canadian herself, she would have been particularly pleased with this medal.”