The Association of Women Surgeons Foundation (AWSF) Awards were presented during a virtual ceremony October 18. Following are details regarding the award recipients. Watch a video of the virtual event.
Dr. Nina Starr Braunwald Award
The Dr. Nina Starr Braunwald Award was presented to Kathleen Casey, MD, FACS, Chief Medical Officer, Physicians for Peace. Dr. Casey has been a lifelong advocate for women surgeons nationally and internationally. After serving as Chair of Surgery in the Okinawa Naval Hospital, Japan, she joined the American College of Surgeons (ACS) as the Founding Director of Operation Giving Back (OGB) and was the creator of the surgical humanitarian outreach initiative for the ACS. Her nominator recognized her as an “expert and world respected advocate for health equity in global surgical care with a record of collaborative successes in the surgical, humanitarian, philanthropic, and global health advocacy arenas.” Dr. Casey’s influence is felt in every health care organization internationally, and she advocates for women surgeons every step of the way.
Dr. Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award
The Dr. Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award was presented to Mary Brandt, MD, FACS, FAAP. Dr. Brandt is professor of surgery, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA; and Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Surgery, Pediatrics, and Medical Ethics, division of pediatric surgery, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.
Dr. Brandt is a well-known mentor to women surgeons, whose simple yet effective mottos include, “Be kind,” and, “Do the right thing.” Her nominators described her as “a consummate surgeon who truly embodies the highest levels of professionalism and humanism in medicine and demonstrates a lifelong passion for education and mentorship.” Dr. Brandt “has been effective in promoting a leadership ‘ripple effect’ that empowers women physicians by facilitating equity, engagement, and self-confidence.”
Dr. Sally Abston AWS Distinguished Member Award
The Dr. Sally Abston AWS Distinguished Member Award was given to Felicitas Koller, MD, FACS, associate professor of surgery, division of transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery, and surgery clerkship director, department of surgery, University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), Jackson.
Dr. Koller’s nominators extolled her “passions for mentoring medical students and advocating for health education and advancement of women in medicine.” She is a community leader, promoting STOP THE BLEED® training through the UMMC AWS Medical Student Chapter and forming the Jackson Community Response to support patients affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. A nominator stated, “There is simply no line on a CV [curriculum vitae] to account for the wealth of support, advice, and inspiration that has been transmitted to those sitting on the hot pink couch in her office.” Dr. Koller attended medical school at University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Dr. Sally Abston’s home institution.
Dr. Charles W. Putnam Distinguished Mentor Award
The Dr. Charles W. Putnam Distinguished Mentor Award was presented to David Livingston, MD, FACS, the Wesley J. Howe Professor of Surgery and chief of trauma and surgical critical care, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark.
Dr. Livingston, through mentorship, allyship, and sponsorship, has created an environment at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School where women surgeons can excel. His nominators noted, “Dr. Livingston models professional behavior in his unparalleled didactic teaching and welcoming nature with learners of all levels, backgrounds, and skill sets, whom he engages in discussion, research, and mentoring.” He possesses a remarkable skill for mentoring faculty across all points in their careers.
Dr. Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Award
The Dr. Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Award was given to Chelsea Harris, MD, who completed her surgery residency at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and is now a plastic and reconstructive surgery fellow at John Hopkins University Medical Center. Dr. Harris’ nominators described her as a “consummate resident educator” and “tireless advocate for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Her impressive accomplishments include serving as creative director for the Annals of Surgery, with expertise in visual abstracts and development of the widely used Cultural Complications Curriculum.
Dr. Patricia Numann Medical Student Award
Two recent medical school graduates received the Dr. Patricia Numann Medical Student Award.
Kelly Brennan, MD, is a graduate of Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, and is now a surgery resident at Queens University, Kingston, ON. Her supporters recognized her exemplary work ethic, attitude, surgical skills, and clinical knowledge. Her medical school leadership activities during the pandemic were instrumental in supporting both the mental well-being and clinical education of her classmates. Dr. Brennan has published extensively in surgical oncology and epidemiology.
Abra Shen, MD, is a graduate of Harvard Medical School (HMS), Boston, MA, and is now a plastic surgery resident at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Her supporters extolled her leadership ability, both locally with the HMS Arts and Humanities Initiative and nationally with leading the development of the Association of Women Surgeons Medical Student Chapter. She co-founded the successful Longwood Chorus, a 70-voice ensemble of Boston’s health care and science community, and created a unique international virtual plastic surgery curriculum during the pandemic. Dr. Shen has published her research in wound healing and presented her work nationally.