Distinguished Academic Achievement Award
Presented to alumni in recognition of outstanding scientific or academic achievement.
2018 Distinguished Academic Achievement Award Recipients
David L. Bronson, M.D. '73, MACP, FRCP Edin
Chairman, Board of Commissioners of the Joint Commission
Professor Emeritus, Lerner College of Medicine/Case Western Reserve University
Past President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic Regional Hospitals
Dr. David Bronson is Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Joint Commission and a member of the Emeritus Staff at the Cleveland Clinic. In 2015, following a four decade career in the practice of internal medicine, medical education, and executive leadership at the University of Vermont and Cleveland Clinic, he stepped down from the full time faculty to devote time to national leadership in healthcare quality improvement. He has published in the areas of smoking cessation, predictive instruments, quality improvement, peri-operative care, patient adherence, delirium, leadership education, and health care economics.
Dr. Bronson has held many leadership positions in national medical organizations and is Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Joint Commission for 2017 and 2018.
Matthew Hsieh, M.D. '98
Staff Clinician, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH
Faculty Member, NHLBI, Hematology Branch
Matthew Hsieh, M.D. ’98 is a staff clinician at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases within the National Institutes of Health. He is also a faculty member in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes’ hematology branch. His research focuses on sickle cell disease and has led to the increased awareness usage of hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) as part of a patient’s overall sickle cell disease care. Dr. Hsieh is regarded highly not only as a researcher, but also in his interactions with patients, which have been described as exceptionally kind and compassionate. Dr. Hsieh is an ad-hoc reviewer for numerous publications and is the author or co-author of nearly 70 peer-reviewed articles.
Sumner Slavin, M.D. '73
Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School
Plastic Surgeon, Private Practice
Sumner Slavin, M.D. ’73 is an Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, and maintains a private plastic and aesthetic surgery clinic. He has been an associate editor for the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and his work in lymphedema has culminated in the publication of the textbook Lymphedema – Presentation, Diagnosis, and Treatment, which Dr. Slavin co-edited. His teaching at Harvard Medical School, his clinical work at his private practice, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and at Boston Children’s Hospital have all garnered accolades and awards, and his mentorship of students at the Larner College of Medicine has inspired decades of future physicians.
Sara Oakes Vargas, M.D. '93
Staff Pathologist, Boston Children's Hospital
Staff Pathologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
Sara Vargas, M.D. ’93 is a pediatric and pulmonary pathologist. She is a staff pathologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and at Brigham and Women’s hospital, a consulting staff member at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. She also serves as Director of Quality and Patient Safety in the Department of Pathology at Boston Children's Hospital. She has served as a member of numerous committees and societies, with particularly deep involvement with the Society for Pediatric Pathology, of which she is currently President. Dr. Vargas is an ad-hoc reviewer for numerous publications including Lung, Modern Pathology, and New England Journal of Medicine, and is the Associate Editor of Pediatric and Developmental Pathology. She received the College’s Recent Alumni Award (today known as the Early Achievement Award) in 2004, and she has since shown continued dedication to teaching, research, patient care, and service to her medical community.
2017 Distinguished Academic Achievement Award Recipients
Michael L. Cunningham, M.D. '87, Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Craniofacial Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine
Jean Renny Chair of Craniofacial Medicine and Medical Director of the Children’s Craniofacial Center at Seattle Children’s Hospital
Dr. Cunningham pursued subspecialty birth defects training while enrolled in graduate school in the Department of Biological Structures (Anatomy) at the University of Washington. Since 1991 his clinical practice has been limited to the diagnosis and longitudinal management of children with craniofacial malformations. He is the founder of PACT (Partners in African Cleft Training), a grass roots craniofacial training program in sub Saharan Africa, which has trained over 100 providers and inspired the development of the Nifty cup™, a simple feeding device for infants in developing countries who cannot breastfeed. Dr. Cunningham is dedicated to the advancement of craniofacial research and the unique model of pediatric care developed at Seattle Children’s Hospital for children born with craniofacial conditions.
Donald P. Goldsmith, M.D. '67
Director, Section of Rheumatology, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Philadelphia
Professor of Pediatrics, Drexel University College of Medicine
Dr. Goldsmith’s foremost contributions to the field of pediatric rheumatology include the earliest report of post-streptococcal reactive arthritis in children, the description and labeling of a previously undefined inflammatory disorder as “neonatal onset multisystem inflammatory disease” (NOMID), now identified as one of the primary autoinflammatory disorders, and the development of the Childhood Health Assessment Questionaire (CHAQ), worldwide still the most widely used assessment tool for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. In November 2012, he was recognized as a Master of the American College of Rheumatology, one of only 16 pediatric rheumatologists so honored.
Davidson H. Hamer, M.D. '87
Professor of Global Health and Medicine, Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine
Adjunct Professor of Nutrition, Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Dr. Hamer is board-certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases with particular interests in tropical infectious diseases, travel medicine, maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH), emerging diseases, and antimicrobial resistance. He has more than 25 years of field research experience on malaria, pneumonia, neonatal and child survival, maternal health, micronutrient deficiencies, and HIV/AIDS in resource-limited countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and South America. His MNCH research has yielded evidence used by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Ministries of Health in Africa to change health policies, guidelines, and program implementation. In addition to his continued research on MNCH, which currently includes a focus on stunting and early childhood development, Dr. Hamer has served as the principal investigator since 2014 for GeoSentinel, a global surveillance network of 66 sites in 30 countries that uses returning travelers, immigrants, and refugees as sentinels of disease emergence and transmission patterns throughout the world.
Elliott K. Main, M.D. '77
Chairman and Chief of Obstetrics; California Pacific Medical Center Medical Director, California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, Stanford Medical School
Dr. Main’s leadership of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative indicates his position at the forefront of work focusing on outcome-based quality improvement in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology. As the former Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, he led one of the largest departments in the country, with over 90 Ob/GYNs and more than 6,000 annual births. He developed and led multiple large improvement efforts at Sutter Health’s 20 hospitals, including the First Pregnancy and Delivery initiative focusing on the care of nulliparous women.
2016 Distinguished Academic Achievement Award Recipients
Kristen A. Atkins, M.D. '96
Associate Professor, Pathology and Residency Program Director
University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA
A world-renowned pathologist, Dr. Atkins’ research interests include fluid cytology in ovarian cancer, uterine smooth muscle tumors, and clinical applications of proteomic research. In addition to her multiple positions at the University of Virginia, she serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Gynecologic Pathology, and is the American Society of Cytopathology Scientific Program Committee Chair in charge of planning and organizing the annual national meeting.
Lisa B. Bergersen, M.D. '96, M.P.H.
Associate Professor Harvard Medical School
Department of Cardiology Children's Hospital Boston
Dr. Bergersen is an interventional pediatric cardiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. A leader in the field of pediatric cardiology and quality initiatives to improve the outcomes of interventional procedures in children, her work has been funded by organizations such as The Children’s Heart Foundation and the American Heart Association. To date she has over 40 manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals. In 2010, she received her Master’s in Public Health from Harvard University.
Jeffrey J. Pomerance, M.D. '66, M.P.H.
Professor Emeritus in Pediatrics at UCLA
Dr. Pomerance has helped to shape the field of neonatology through his decades of work as a clinician, scholar and leader. For 23 years, he served as director of the Division of Neonatology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and held appointments at UCLA as professor of pediatrics and public health. He went on to become director of Newborn Medicine at Greater Baltimore Medical Center with academic appointments at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For 25 years, Dr. Pomerance’s main research interest has been interpreting umbilical cord blood gases, and he authored the seminal text, Interpreting Umbilical Cord Blood Gases: For Clinicians Caring for the Fetus or Newborn.
2015 Distinguished Academic Achievement Award Recipients
Palmer Q. Bessey, M.D. '75
Dr. Bessey is a trauma surgeon who focuses on burn care and serves as Associate Director of the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He completed a surgical residency and a year of surgical critical care at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and then did a research fellowship at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in surgical metabolism and nutrition. He was a member of the surgical faculty and served in leadership roles in Trauma, Burns and Critical Care at UAB, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Rochester, before assuming his current position at Cornell in 2000. He later completed a masters program in epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University. He has dedicated his career to improving the care of people with serious injuries from trauma and burns, striving for both survival and quality of life. He has served as a State Chair and Region Chief on the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons, as a Director of the American Board of Surgery, and most recently, as President of the American Burn Association.
George A. Little, M.D. '65
Dr. Little was a rotating intern at the University of Oregon before serving as a Peace Corps Physician in Africa. He completed a pediatric residency at what is now the UVM Medical Center and a neonatology fellowship at the University of Colorado. He joined the faculty at Dartmouth where he founded the neonatal intensive care unit and the Vt/NH regional perinatal education program in collaboration with Dr. Jerold Lucey. He served for over a decade as Professor and Chairman of the Dept. of Maternal and Child Health at Dartmouth before it became the departments of Pediatrics and Ob/Gyn. His long term interests include perinatal health policy, regionalization, outcomes, and family –centered care especially in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), clinical decision-making and ethics. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as Alpha Omega Alpha. He has served in positions of membership and leadership with many organizations in the professional association, public, private and government sectors. He has maintained an active involvement in global health beginning with 2 summers in Tanzania when a UVM medical student and was co-chair of the Global Implementation Task Force for Helping Babies Breathe, a neonatal resuscitation program for resource poor areas that is being disseminated globally. At the present time he remains active at Dartmouth and with initiatives in Malawi, Nigeria and Kosovo.
Richard V. Smith, M.D. '90
Dr. Smith is an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon. He is actively involved in numerous research projects studying cancers of the head and neck. His research focuses on identifying genetic and biologic aspects of such cancers that correlate with a patient’s prognosis. His goal is to help determine the optimal treatment for an individual patient, to maximize their chance of cure and minimize treatment-related side effects. In addition, his clinical investigation has focused on developing new techniques in trans-oral surgery, a less invasive form of surgery in which the surgeon gains necessary access to the surgical field through the mouth. At the same time, Dr. Smith seeks to assess the quality of life benefits for such treatments. His service to professional medical societies includes terms as President of the New York Head and Neck Society and President of the New York Laryngological Society.
Norman J. Snow, M.D. '70
Since his graduation from the College of Medicine in 1970, Dr. Snow has fashioned a career in academic cardiothoracic surgery that is the envy of many of his colleagues in the specialty. Dr. Snow’s career has been one of academic excellence. He has held academic appointments in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Louisville, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Illinois as a tenured professor and, more recently, as Adjunct Professor of Surgery at the University of Vermont and Professor of Anatomy at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. He has authored over 70 peer-reviewed publications, given over 120 presentations, and contributed eight book chapters. He not only has been a member in good standing of every major surgery and cardiothoracic surgery society, he has actively contributed to multiple committees and projects. Building on his interest in emergency medical services, for example, he chaired the Trauma and Emergency Care Committee of the Cleveland Academy of Medicine and was the inaugural medical director of Metro Life Flight, which at the time was the second largest helicopter EMS program in the country.
Daniel C. Sullivan, M.D.'70
For 20 years, from 1977 to 1997, Dr. Sullivan was in academic radiology, holding faculty appointments at Yale University Medical Center, Duke University Medical Center, and University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, before joining the National Cancer Institute at NIH in 1997. From 1997 to 2007 Dr. Sullivan was Associate Director in the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and Head of the Cancer Imaging Program at NCI. In 2007 Dr. Sullivan returned to Duke where his current responsibilities include serving as Vice Chair for Research, co-director of the Radiation Oncology and Imaging Program for the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center and Co-Director of the Imaging Program in the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI). Dr. Sullivan serves as Science Adviser to the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) where he founded and Chairs the Quantitative Imaging Biomarkers Alliance (QIBA) to coordinate a range of national and international activities to advance the field of quantitative imaging. He is a Fellow in the American College of Radiology, the Society for Breast Imaging, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. In 2013 he was named to the Editorial Board for the 8th Edition of Cancer Staging Manual, American Joint Committee on Cancer. In 2014 he was appointed to a term on the National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at NIH. Dr. Sullivan has received Merit Awards while at the NIH and in 2009 he received the Gold Medal Award from the Association of University Radiologists.
2014 Distinguished Academic Achievement Award Recipients
Judith F. Baumhauer, M.D. '89, M.P.H.
Celebrating her 25th reunion, Dr. Judith Ford Baumhauer was named the first woman president of both the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society for 2012-2013 and the Board of Directors of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery in 2012. Additionally, she was the first president of the Eastern Orthopedic Association, the largest Regional Orthopedic Society, where she served from 2009 to 2010. She has served on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Medical Specialties; Board of Directors of the OEF and OREF, the major humanitarian and research fund raising organizations in her specialty. Dr. Baumhauer has also been an editor or reviewer for major medical journals including the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and Clinical Orthopedics, and serves on many committees for the University of Rochester. Her honors of note include the Distinguished Alumna Award from Springfield College in 2008; the Achievement Award from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in 2010; and the ATHENA Award of the Rochester Business Alliance’s Women’s Council in 2012. Dr. Baumhauer also received the Alumni Award for Surgical Excellence from UVM at her graduation in 1989 and has received multiple research grants and is published widely. She is noted for her superb leadership and her dedication to career and family, and is a highly respected researcher and clinician.
Jane E. Hitti, M.D. '89, M.P.H.
Celebrating her 25th reunion year, Dr. Jane Hitti went on from the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont to develop a first-rate career in her chosen field of maternal fetal medicine. Her work focuses on infectious disease in pregnancy and has been recognized with several prestigious awards. She is also an adjunct professor of epidemiology and director of the maternal fetal medicine fellowship program. She joined her department in 1998 and is board-certified in both obstetrics and gynecology and the subspecialty of maternal fetal medicine. "Every woman deserves to have a happy and healthy pregnancy, within the context of her own circumstances,” she says. “I hope to advocate effectively for the health of women and their infants and to encourage my patients to participate actively in their care." Dr. Hitti’s clinical interests include the effects of HIV and other infectious diseases in pregnancy; multiple gestation, and prematurity prevention; and ultrasound. Her expertise encompasses high-risk obstetrics, infectious diseases, and perinatology.
Neil H. Hyman, M.D. '84
Celebrating his 30th reunion, Dr. Hyman is currently the Samuel B. and Michelle D. Labow Green and Gold Professor of Colorectal Surgery and co-director of the Digestive Disease Center. He has authored more than 170 peer-reviewed original articles or textbook chapters. He serves on many regional and national committees, and is a member of numerous national organizations and societies. He has been President of the Vermont Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, Associate Editor of Diseases of the Colon and Rectum, Principle Investigator of the New England and Vermont Colorectal Cancer Quality Project, and Chairman of the Standards Committee of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Dr. Hyman has been the recipient of many teaching awards including three Clinical Teacher of the Year Awards. He received the Jerome S. Abrams Teaching Award in 1992-93, 1993-94 and 1997-98; the Howe Outstanding Surgery Faculty Award for 2000-2001, 2004-2005, 2010-2011; and the Humanism in Medicine Award for 2001-02. He was named Teacher of the Year by the Chief Surgical Residents in 1991, 2007 and 2009. In 2005, he delivered the Commencement Address at the College of Medicine graduation. Dr. Hyman was named Physician of the Year by the Vermont Medical Society in 2011.
John A. Persing, M.D. '74
Celebrating his 40th reunion, Dr. John Persing is the Irving & Silik Polayes Professor of Plastic Surgery at Yale University School of Medicine, where he has chaired the Section of Plastic Surgery for over two decades. At Yale he has expanded the Section’s scope and mission while traveling the world teaching surgical techniques. He has published widely, and is an international expert in craniosynostosis, a condition in which sutures in the infant skull fuse prematurely. As a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Persing has a long history of involvement with international aid organizations that provide cleft lip and reconstructive surgeries in developing areas of the world. He co-founded such an organization, the Virginia Children’s Connection, in 1989; he became a volunteer provider, trip leader, and later a Board of Directors member for the reconstructive surgery organization Interplast. As an Advisory Board member of Operation Smile, he has overseen a DNA study into the genetics of cleft lip/cleft palate. Dr. Persing is past Chair of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and President of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons and the current President of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons.