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AMA Foundation Honors Four Physicians

For immediate release:
June 18, 2014

Eleven outstanding students receive scholarships to help increase physician workforce diversity and reduce health care disparities

CHICAGO – The American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation recently presented Excellence in Medicine Awards to a select group of physicians who exemplify the medical profession's highest values: leadership, community service and dedication to treating underserved patients. 

Four outstanding physicians and 15 medical students, residents, fellows, and early career physicians were honored at the Excellence in Medicine Awards celebration on June 6, 2014, in Chicago, presented in association with Eli Lilly & Co., Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals, Inc., PhRMA, and Pfizer Inc. 

The Dr. Debasish Mridha Spirit of Medicine Award recognizes the work of a U.S. physician who has demonstrated altruism, compassion, integrity, leadership, and personal sacrifice while providing quality health care to a destitute, distressed, or marginalized population in an impoverished community.

Deborah A. Frank, MD
Founder, Children's HealthWatch
Founder, Grow Clinic for Children
Boston, Massachusetts

In 1984, Deborah Frank, MD, founded Boston City Hospital's Failure to Thrive program, which is now known as the Grow Clinic for Children. After finding that the families did not have financial resources to provide the high quality diet necessary for children's recovery of growth and health, Dr. Frank and her staff started the first hospital-based food pantry to supplement the clinic. The pantry now serves 7,000 Boston Medical Center patients and family members Thirty years after its founding, she is still the organization's director.

Dr. Frank is also the founder of Children's HealthWatch, an ongoing effort to improve children's nutrition, health, and development through policy research.  She is professor of child health and well-being at Boston University School of Medicine.

The Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine honors physicians for outstanding international service.

David Gaus, MD
Director, Andean Health & Development
Madison, Wisconsin

David Gaus, MD, is the founder and executive director of Andean Health & Development (AHD), an organization that provides self-sustainable, comprehensive health care in impoverished areas of Latin America. He is also assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin.

After completing his medical degree, M.P.H. and residency, Dr. Gaus returned to Ecuador where had previously served a two-year volunteer stint.  Once there he learned of Ecuador's desperate need for hospitals when a child named Alfredo died in his truck on a four-hour trip to Quito for snakebite treatment. Inspired by that tragedy, Dr. Gaus founded AHD in 1996, through which he has lead development and building projects for two hospitals.

The Jack B. McConnell, MD, Award for Excellence in Volunteerism honors senior physician volunteers who increase access to health care in the United States.

Samuel A. Cassell, MD
Founding Chair, Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative
Hackensack, New Jersey

Medical trips to the Far East and to Haiti lead Samuel A. Cassell, MD, to his post-retirement career as founding chair of the Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative. In 2009, Dr. Cassell and a team of dedicated individuals created a five-day-a-week health center offering free health care for working, low-income, uninsured residents of Bergen County, New Jersey. Five years into its existence, the Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI) has 65 medical volunteers and staff who care for some 1,000 patients in 6,000 medical visits annually.

A retired internist with a sub-specialty in pulmonary medicine, Dr. Cassell entered medicine in 1965, accumulating a CV packed with private practice, teaching, and a number of leadership positions at Barnert Hospital, in Paterson, N.J.

The Pride in the Profession Award honors physicians who aid underserved domestic populations.

Darryl C. Hunter, MD, Colonel, USAFR
President and CEO, the Dr Ernest and Arthella Hunter Foundation
Rancho Cordova, California

Darryl C. Hunter, MD, currently serves as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserves while working as a physician with The Permanente Medical Group. He is the founder and managing partner of the Sacramento Community Cancer Coalition, which provides cancer screenings, vision exams, and dental care to thousands. He co-founded the Sacramento Community Veterans Alliance, which is committed to connecting veterans to health care benefits. He also founded the first California chapter of the Kaiser Permanente Veterans Association, a resource group that advocates for the health rights and respectful treatment of veteran members.

Dr. Hunter's resolve to memorialize the spirit and teachings of his parents led him to create the Dr. Ernest and Arthella Hunter Foundation, which provides scholarships to outstanding pre-medical students who provide community service to the underserved.

To view the names of AMA Foundation Leadership Award recipients and watch brief videos about the lives and initiatives of award recipients, please visit www.amafoundation.org/go/excellence.

The AMA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation, is improving the health of Americans through philanthropic support of quality programs in public health and medical education. To join the AMA Foundation in supporting medical heroes like the Excellence in Medicine Award winners, visit www.amafoundation.org.

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Media Contact:
Amy Jenkins, AMA Foundation
(312) 464-5864
Amy.jenkins@ama-assn.org