Alumni Volunteer Award, 2013

abendMany people volunteer because they feel that their working lives don’t connect with people’s needs. Paul Abend doesn’t have that problem. Both his professional and his personal lives directly provide new opportunities to others.

From Mountainside, New Jersey, Paul followed his older brother (David C’80) to Drew. He thinks he could not have made a better choice. He was enthralled by John Ollom’s stories about working on the atomic bomb, and grateful for the way Drew nurtured his development as a scientist and expanded his interests in literature and religion. A hard-working student whose only recreation was rugby, he was admitted to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) – New Jersey School of Osteopathic after graduating from Drew.

After Paul became board certified in family medicine in 1990, he completed another residency in the emerging field of physical medicine and rehabilitation. In addition to his medical practice, specializing in non-surgical spinal treatment, sports injuries and neuropathy, he is now clinical associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Kessler Institute, UMDNJ –New Jersey Medical School, as well as clinical assistant professor in the Departments of Medicine and of Family Medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He has held many leadership positions in his profession, and has been named one of “America’s Top Doctors” annually since 2001.

In their first week of medical school, Paul met Lori Brand, his lab partner, and they have been married since 1987. Within their family they have become involved in the issues of autism, creatively developing new medical and social opportunities. As he coached their children’s sports, Paul recognized the needs of special needs children. He began by including special children in his teams; then, with his daughter, started the Abend Sports Clinic for Special Needs Children. The clinic works intensively in soccer, basketball, and baseball, focusing on reintegrating children into neighborhood teams and other activities.

For complex medical issues, Paul created the non-profit Comprehensive Autism Medical Assessment and Treatment Center of New Jersey, bringing medical experts together via tele-medicine. Because traveling to specialists can be difficult, Paul and Lori, with generous donors, have developed Autism Escapes, providing private and corporate air transport for families to meet with autism specialist Dr. Timothy Buie at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. The Abends’ work has earned multiple awards, including Paul’s New Jersey Governor’s Jefferson Prize in 2011.

Looking to the future—a pressing concern for parents of children with autism—Paul has recently created Mt. Bethel Village, featuring a variety of assisted-living options for those who are ready to leave home. The Village is close to Paul and Lori’s home in Warren, New Jersey, where they live with their children, Alexandra (22), who plans to continue her work with autism issues after law school; Daniel (18); and Michael (15).