Alumni Association will honor Dr. Hanzlick

SALEM – Dr. Randy L. Hanzlick, a physician who has been the chief medical examiner in Fulton County, Georgia since 1998, is this year’s Salem High School Alumni Association Honored Alumnus.

Hanzlick has received numerous professional awards for his national efforts to improve forensic pathology practices and death investigation systems based on his work as the medical examiner for the county the covers the Atlanta metropolitan area, for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and at Emory University. Both the CDC and Emory are in Atlanta.

On Saturday, May 24, Hanzlick will be the featured speaker at the 133rd Annual Reunion and Banquet of the Salem High School Alumni Association in the cafeteria at Salem High School (SHS) cafeteria.

Nearly 100 of new SHS graduates and alumni will receive scholarships during the banquet that begins at 6 p.m., the night before Salem’s commencement ceremony.

Tickets for the banquet are $20 and must be purchased in advance at the alumni association office at 330 East State Street by May 16. The office is open from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays. The association’s phone number is 330-332-1427.

Hanzlick graduated from Salem High School in 1970 and earned his bachelor’s degree and then medical degree from The Ohio State University.

He credits Walter “Bing” Newton, his Salem Junior High School science teacher, with instigating his interest in science and medicine. His family’s former Salem physicians-Drs. Vernon Ziegler and William Hoprich-also encouraged him to pursue a career in medicine. And Dr. William A. Kolozsi, who served as Columbiana County’s coroner for many years, provided positive feedback about his career choice during Hanzlick’s pathology residency.

At OSU Hanzlick was mentored by Nobuhisa “Nobi” Baba, a forensic pathology professor who introduced him to the potential for forensic pathology-the study of death-to benefit the living with insights that improve public safety and health. “It is the forensic pathologist’s job to find out how and why a person died, and to document information that can be used to answer questions and to address legal issues that may arise. For example, if one person is killed by another, our information may be used in the criminal court to bring justice,” Hanzlick explained.

Throughout his career Hanzlick has been involved in efforts to improve medicolegal death investigation systems, the guidelines and standards of forensic pathology practices, and the education of forensic pathologists. He currently directs the forensic pathology fellowship training program at the Emory School of Medicine and serves as vice chairman of the Scientific Working Group for Medicolegal Death Investigation, a national working group.

The most important of his numerous collaborations with the CDC may be the development of national guidelines for the investigation of sudden, unexplained infant deaths. Hanzlick hopes that more thorough investigation of these deaths will provide information that can help prevent more tragedies. He has written extensively on this topic and other forensic pathology issues, as well as authoring several textbooks, numerous chapters, and hundreds of scientific journal articles.

Both the high caliber of Hanzlick’s research and his leadership in forensic pathology have been recognized by his peers.

In September he will receive the Helpern Laureate Award, the highest honor awarded by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME). Hanzlick served as NAME’s president in 2001, and he received the organization’s Lifetime Service Award in 2007. He is also a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Hanzlick acknowledges that thinking about death on a daily basis and encountering numerous incidents of violent death could weigh one down. However, he maintains an upbeat attitude. “I have always tried to look at the bright side and realize how kind, loving, and strong most people can be. The positives in life far outweigh the negatives, and I try to concentrate on the positives,” he said.

Hanzlick and his wife Mary reside in Atlanta with their two daughters, Caitlin and Marinna. His parents are Betty Albright Hanzlick, who has resides in Atlanta where she plays golf weekly, and the late Walter Hanzlick.