Established in 1982, the Distinguished Graduate Award honors highly accomplished alumni for their outstanding service to society and to the profession of medicine, and for their notable accomplishments in either biomedical research, clinical practice or medical education. The awardee’s achievements must have resulted in national or international recognition previously. Honorees are selected by a panel of physicians from Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, previous honorees and others. The award is presented annually during Medical Alumni Weekend and represents the highest honor bestowed upon graduates of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
2012 - David A. Asch, GM'87, WG'89, HOM'96
Throughout his professional career, David Asch has led the way in helping the public navigate the intricacies of the enigmatic health care system.
For the last 12 years, he has served as Executive Director of Penn's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, where he is the Robert D. Eilers Professor of Medicine and Health Care Management and Economics at the Perelman School of Medicine and Wharton. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine.
Dr. Asch received his bachelor's degree from Harvard University, his M.D. from Weill-Cornell Medical College, and his M.B.A. in Health Care Management and Decision Sciences from Wharton. He was a resident in Internal Medicine and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the Perelman School of Medicine.
Dr. Asch's many contributions all touch upon health policy. His main focus is to examine how medical decisions are made and how they can be improved, a perspective that combines economics with medicine and psychology in the area of what is now called behavioral economics. His work has been recognized with many leading scholarly awards and honors, and he is particularly well known for his research on end-of-life care, genetic testing, rationing, organ transplantation, health care quality, and racial disparities in health and health care.
Dr. Asch founded the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion - the VA's national program aimed at understanding and eliminating disparities in health and health care across different races or socioeconomic groups. He also established and directs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program, and oversees the Summer Undergraduate Minority Research Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He greatly expanded and led Wharton's executive education programs to provide leadership training to physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and health system chief executive officers. He chairs the faculty grievance commission for the entire faculty of the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Asch was recognized in 2006 with the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award, the University of Pennsylvania’s highest teaching award. His other notable awards include: the Alice S. Hersh New Investigator Award from Academy Health (1997), the Outstanding Investigator Award from the American Federation for Medical Research (1999), the Mid-Career Research Mentorship Award from the Society of General Internal Medicine (2004), the VA Under Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research (2008), the Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges (2009), and the John M. Eisenberg National Award for Career Achievement in Research from the Society of General Internal Medicine (2010).
2012 - William S. Pierce, M'62, RES'69
In 1970, William S. Pierce initiated a collaborative effort between the Penn State Colleges of Medicine and Engineering that went on to make medical history. The Artificial Heart and Circulatory Support Group, as they were called, created the Pierce-Donachy Ventricular Assist Device, also known as the Penn State Assist Pump, which has now been used in over 3,000 patients and is available worldwide. In 1990, it was designated as an International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Dr. Pierce graduated from Lehigh University with a B.S. in chemical engineering and then received his M.D. and spent his residency at the Perelman School of Medicine. After becoming a faculty member at Penn State University and the new Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, he initiated a talented interdisciplinary group from the Penn State Colleges of Medicine and Engineering to create the Penn State Assist pump. The seam-free surface of the chambers inside the heart pump was its most innovative feature—the pump's smooth cavities helped prevent dangerous blood clotting that could cause a stroke.
In 1980, the pneumatically-driven device was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and, five years later, a major milestone occurred when the heart pump was successfully applied as a bridge for cardiac transplantation. Dr. Pierce also played an important role in developing a fully implantable, wireless, motor-driven left ventricular assist pump named the "LionHeart."
Dr. Pierce ended his full-time clinical duties with Hershey Medical Center in 1996. His three decades of service at Penn State University were celebrated by his appointment as Evan Pugh Professor of Surgery, the school's highest academic award.
Since 1962, Dr. Pierce has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including Penn's own I.S. Ravdin Award, the Dr. Barney Clark Exemplary Humanitarian Award (2005), the Wilkes-Barre Distinguished Service Award (1995), the Monroe J. Rathbone Chemical Engineering Alumni Award (1992), the International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark (1990), an honorary doctor of science degree from Lehigh University (1988), the Clemson Award for Applied Research (1985), the Faculty Scholars Medal in Life and Health Sciences (1983), and the Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons (2007), the organization's highest research award.
A prolific scientific researcher and writer, Dr. Pierce has authored or coauthored close to 300 publications, including 90 book chapters, 150 abstracts, and 2 books. He has also served on the editorial boards of numerous medical, surgical, and scientific journals. In addition, Dr. Pierce holds nine patents, including two for surgical gloves, one for an artificial heart, two for heart valves, and one for a blood pump. He also shares patents in 16 countries for a right ventricular assist device.
2011 – Sidney Pestka, M.D.'61
Known as the “father of interferon,” Sidney Pestka, M.D.’61 has been professor
and chairman of the Department of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology
and Immunology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School for 24
years. His groundbreaking work developing antiviral treatments for
chronic hepatitis B and C, multiple sclerosis, and cancers has made an
enormous impact on the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.
Born in Poland, Dr. Pestka emigrated to the United States with his family
at a very young age. He received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry
from Princeton University. After graduating from medical school, he
completed a pediatric and medical internship at Baltimore City Hospitals
and took a position in the laboratory of Dr. Marshall W. Nirenberg at the
National Heart Institute.
Dr. Pestka has been at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
since 1986, and is the founder of Pestka Biomedical Laboratories,
where he has been the chief scientific officer and chairman of the
board since 1990. Dr. Pestka is the holder of over 270 United States
and foreign patents. He is the recipient of several high honors,
including the National Medal of Technology, and was inducted into
the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in 1993.
Dr. Pestka is currently celebrating his 50th Reunion and serving on
the Class of 1961 Reunion Committee.
Dr. Pestka is married to Joan Pestka, and they have three children,
Sharon, Steven and Robert.
2011 – Elaine S. Jaffe, M.D.’69
Elaine S. Jaffe, M.D.’69 is a respected clinician and a generous and successful
mentor who is internationally known for her outstanding leadership in
hematopathology. She has been a pioneer in disease discovery and
disease definition of the lymphomas, and her clinical and investigational
studies have enhanced our understanding of malignant lymphomas.
Dr. Jaffe received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University.
After graduating from medical school, she held an internship in
Pathology at Georgetown University and went on to complete her
residency in Anatomic Pathology from the National Institutes of
Health’s National Cancer Institute (NCI). She was then a fellow in the
Hematopathology Section of the NCI’s Laboratory of Pathology.
Dr. Jaffe is the chief of the Hematopathology Section of the National
Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Pathology and has been a senior
investigator focusing on the classification and definition of lymphoid
neoplasms since 1974. She led the World Heath Organization effort in
developing the current classification of hematolymphoid tumors.
A former President of the U.S. and Canadian Academy of Pathology,
and the Society for Hematopathology, Dr. Jaffe has served on
numerous editorial and advisory boards. An author of more than 480
peer-reviewed publications, she was one of the top 10 most highly
cited scientists in clinical oncology from 1981 to 1998, and the only
woman on the top 10 list. She was elected by her peers to Deputy
Chair of the Assembly of Scientists at National Institutes of Health, and
also was appointed by Cornell University to the Presidential Council of
Cornell Women. Dr. Jaffe was elected to the Institute of Medicine
of the National Academies in 2008.
Dr. Jaffe is married to Michael Evan Jaffe and together they have
two children, Gregory and Caleb.
2010 – Ann Arvin, M.D.’72
Ann M. Arvin, M'72, is a nationally recognized expert in pediatric infectious diseases and is currently the Vice Provost and Dean of Research at Stanford University.
As the Lucile Packard Professor in Pediatrics and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, Dr. Arvin’s principal research focuses on varicella zoster virus (VZV), a herpes virus that causes chicken pox and shingles. Her studies of VZV contributed to development of the vaccine that is now licensed for the prevention of chicken pox and zoster. Dr. Arvin’s clinical research uses new laboratory methods to improve the understanding of the developing immune system in infants and young children and how it affects their responses to viral infections and vaccines.
Dr. Arvin graduated magna cum laude from Brown University and earned her M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her residency in pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco and, later, an infectious diseases fellowship at UCSF and Stanford University, where she joined the faculty in 1978.Dr. Arvin chaired the committee that prepared the Institute of Medicine 2009 Report on Variola Virus. She is a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology working group that wrote the recent Report to the President on U.S. Preparations for 2009-H1N1 influenza. At present, she serves on the Board on Life Sciences of the National Academies and the Director’s Advisory Council of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Arvin has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the Association of American Physicians, the American Pediatric Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
2010 – Robert I. Grossman, M.D.’73
Robert I. Grossman, M.D. ’73 is the Saul J. Farber Dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center, one of the nation’s most distinguished academic medical institutions comprised of the NYU School of Medicine and NYU Hospitals Center. A world-renowned neuroradiologist, Dr. Grossman is an expert in multiple sclerosis, head trauma, and stroke.
Dr. Grossman joined NYU in 2001 as the Louis Marx Professor of Radiology, Chairman of the Department of Radiology, and Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Physiology and Neuroscience. In his previous position at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, he had been Professor of Radiology, Neurosurgery, and Neurology; Chief of Neuroradiology; and Associate Chairman of Radiology.
Dr. Grossman received his undergraduate degree from Tulane University, and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his internship at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston in 1973, held residencies in radiology and neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed a fellowship in neuroradiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
A prolific scientist, Dr. Grossman was awarded the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1999 for his work on multiple sclerosis. In 2004, he became the first recipient of the American Society of Neuroradiology Education and Research Foundation’s annual Outstanding Contributions in Research Award. Earlier this year, he received the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine’s (ISMRM) Gold Medal in recognition of his major research contributions to the field of Magnetic Resonance.
Alongside his research, Dr. Grossman has been a passionate educator and widely published scholar. He has trained over 100 fellows and has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed publications and four books, including Neuroradiology: The Requisites, a best-selling textbook which has sold over 50,000 copies and has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and Turkish. Dr. Grossman also served as Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Neuroradiology from 2005-2007, and is past-President of the American Society of Neuroradiology.
Dr. Grossman is married to Dr. Elisabeth Cohen, an ophthalmologist. They have two sons, David and Benjamin.
2009 – Mark Groudine, M.D. ’74, GR ’76
Mark Groudine is internationally known for his research on the regulation of gene expression and its role in carcinogenesis. His work includes uncovering fundamental mechanisms that regulate how genes are turned on and off in normal cells and how the breakdown of these mechanisms leads to cancer.
Dr. Groudine is a member of the Division of Basic Sciences and deputy director and executive vice president of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. After post-doctoral training at Princeton University and residency in Radiation Oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, he joined the Hutchinson Center in 1979. He served as director of the Division of Basic Sciences at Hutchinson from 1995 to 2004. During that time, he led extensive, diverse research programs in cellular and molecular biology. Studies in the Division of Basic Sciences have been recognized worldwide for furthering knowledge about cell cycle regulation, cell differentiation and cell development.
Additionally, Dr. Groudine is a professor and attending physician in the Department of Radiation Oncology and an adjunct professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He serves on the board of trustees of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. He also has served on committees to establish a national cancer policy, including the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Division of Cancer Treatment at the National Cancer Institute.
In recognition of Dr. Groudine’s contributions to the fields of molecular biology and oncology, he has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, as well as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Groudine enjoys spending time with his wife, Cynthia, and their cats. He likes to read, hike, swim, and collect and study tribal art. Dr. Groudine and his wife have donated over 100 pieces of tribal art to the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.
2009 – Nicole Lurie, M.D. ’79
Nicole Lurie is a senior natural scientist and the Paul O’Neill Alcoa Professor of Health Policy at the RAND Corporation in Arlington, Virginia. She directs RAND’s public health and preparedness work as well as the company’s Center for Population Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Lurie has a long history in the health services research field, primarily in the areas of access to and quality of care, managed care, mental health, prevention, and health disparities.
Dr. Lurie attended undergraduate and medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed her residency and MSPH at UCLA, where she was also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar.
Prior to her career at RAND, Dr. Lurie had a long affiliation with the University of Minnesota and Hennepin County Medical Center, where she was professor of medicine and public health, and most recently, medical advisor to the commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health. From 1998 to 2001, she served as principal deputy assistant secretary of health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Among her many responsibilities, Dr. Lurie supervised the Office of Emergency Preparedness and the development of the pandemic influenza plan.
Dr. Lurie has worked extensively on issues related to public health infrastructure and public health preparedness. She led a study to assess preparedness of California's public health infrastructure and to estimate gaps. Currently, she co-directs RAND's work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop and test methods for assessing various components of public health readiness.
Dr. Lurie serves as senior editor for Health Services Research. She has sat on the editorial boards and has served as a reviewer of numerous journals including the American Journal of Medicine and Medical Care Research and Review. She serves on the board of directors for the Academy of Health Services Research, and she has served on the council and as past president of the Society of General Internal Medicine.
Dr. Lurie has received numerous awards, including a Mastership from American College of Physicians, the RAND Mentor-of-the-Year Award and the RAND President’s Award.
She lives in Bethesda, M.D., with her husband, Dr. Jesse Goodman, and their three children: Robin, Jordi and Noah.