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For Release: November 8, 2011
David Corriveau 603-653-1978

DMS graduate and former faculty member join forces on award-winning children's book

More than a decade after they left Dartmouth Medical School (DMS), alumnus Daniel Kairys, MD, and former faculty member Jo Ann Kairys, MPH, have added an award-winning children's book to their list of achievements in medicine and science.

On November 4, the Mom's Choice Awards conferred its Gold award in the "Imagine It" category on the Kairyses' Sunbelievable, a book encouraging interest in science among children ages 4 to 8, for its blend of fantasy storytelling with facts about the importance of the sun in sustaining life on Earth.

"After a 72-hour marathon of doing surgical procedures, I had just dozed off when my mom called about the prize," says Dan Kairys, a 1997 graduate of DMS and the staff surgeon for Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade, Fla. "'Wow!' was about all I could muster. I'm still absorbing the news."

Daniel Kairys, MD, DMS 1997

Dan Kairys, also a 1990 graduate of Dartmouth College who credits English professor Cleopatra Mathis with inspiring his love of poetry, co-wrote the text of the book, after years of making up stories to tell his four children. Meanwhile, his mother Jo Ann Kairys, MPH, who taught in the DMS department of community and family medicine in the 1980s and 1990s, shot the photographs of Dan's two older daughters, around which collaborator Frank Thompson, a public-school teacher in New Jersey, crafted the illustrations.

"I'm always looking for books that capture my children's attention - and mine - but rarely find, aside from the classics, wonderful new works that inspire and ignite their own creativity," Dan Kairys adds. "Sunbelievable evolved from ongoing, countless revisions of my stories for them and a commitment to the boundless imagination we see in our children every day."

Former DMS faculty member Jo Ann Kairys, MPH

Jo Ann Kairys, a veteran medical writer, recalls taking photographs of the New Hampshire and Vermont landscapes around DMS and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) - where her husband, pediatrician Stephen Kairys, MD, taught, trained, and practiced - while Dan was growing up, and she wound up incorporating some of those images into Sunbelievable.

"When Dan and (his wife) Junia's children were born, I jumped into action with the camera and learned Photoshop to create magical backgrounds for Dan's stories," says Jo Ann Kairys, who published her first book for young audiences, Princess Secrets, in 2008. "Sunbelievable became an expression of our mutual respect for children's books and the elegant simplicity of a story written with purpose and love."

Dan Kairys, whose wife is a physician's assistant and a native of Haiti, joined the first wave of surgeons to fly to Haiti in January of 2010 to treat victims of the massive earthquake. During his third year of medical school, he volunteered in Haiti with the aid organization Medishare, under a partnership between DMS and the University of Miami.

For more information about Sunbelievable, visit


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