Each year, the Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) Foundation presents awards to outstanding individuals who are supportive of the AWS mission to inspire, encourage, and enable women surgeons to meet their professional and personal goals. The AWS Foundation proudly honored the 2018 Award recipients at the AWS Foundation Awards Dinner Monday night at the Marriott Copley Place.
The Nina Starr Braunwald Award
The Nina Starr Braunwald Award is the highest honor bestowed by the AWS Foundation and is presented in recognition of a lifetime of contributions to the advancement of women in surgery. The 2018 Nina Starr Braunwald Award was presented to Sharona Ross, MD, FACS, professor of surgery, University of Central Florida, Orlando. Dr. Ross is director of minimally invasive surgery (MIS), director of surgical endoscopy, and director of the advanced GI (gastrointestinal) and HPB (hepato-pancreato-biliary) fellowship program, Florida Hospital, Tampa. As a thought leader in American medicine, Dr. Ross continues to push the envelope in the advancement of MIS. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the American University, Washington, DC, and later Alpha Omega Alpha from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC. She is a pioneer as the first woman to be board certified in cardiothoracic surgery, and she was one of the first surgeons in the U.S. to undertake laparo-endoscopic single-site surgery. In 2010, she founded the Women in Surgery Career Symposium as part of her life’s mission to engage women surgeons and provide them with resources and leadership opportunities to advance their future careers.
Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award
The Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award is presented annually to an AWS member who exemplifies the ideals and mission of the organization and recognizes contributions to the mentorship of women surgeons. The award is named in memory of Dr. Jonasson, the first woman to chair an academic department of surgery. The 2018 Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award was presented to Anne Mosenthal, MD, FACS, the Benjamin F. Rush Endowed Chair & Professor, and chair, department of surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark. Dr. Mosenthal completed her medical education in 1985 at Dartmouth Medical School and her surgical training in 1990 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Through her work caring for the critically injured, Dr. Mosenthal developed her academic and research interests in palliative medicine and end-of-life care in surgery, trauma, and critical care. She is the founding director of the first palliative care division in surgery in the nation. She is an active mentor of many women in surgery, bringing them to leadership roles and supporting their professional and personal development.
Past Presidents’ Honorary Member Award
The Past Presidents’ Honorary Member Award is given to individuals who are supportive of AWS goals. The 2018 Past Presidents’ Honorary Member Award was presented to Ronald V. Maier, MD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon), FCSHK(Hon), the 2018−2019 President of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). He is surgeon-in-chief, Harborview Medical Center, and the Jane and Donald D. Trunkey Endowed Chair in Trauma Surgery and vice-chairman, department of surgery, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle. Dr. Maier earned his medical degree at Duke University, Durham, NC, and is an expert in trauma care, emergency surgery, and critical care. As the first surgical critical care program director at Harborview, Dr. Maier recruited, graduated, and mentored a fellowship cohort that was 35 percent women, well above the national average for this specialty in this time period.
Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Award
The Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Reward is named to reflect the generous endowment established by Dr. Sanfey. The award recognizes surgical residents who demonstrate excellence in surgery and potential as future leaders. The 2018 Outstanding Resident Award was presented to Rebecca Hoffman, MD, a general surgery resident at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She was nominated for being “resilient, powerful, confident, inspiring,” even in the face of hardship, and is an outstanding clinician, educator, and researcher, according to her nominator, Jon B. Morris, MD, FACS, program director, general surgery, medical director, admissions, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Ernest F. Rosato-William Maul Measey Professor in Surgical Education.
Patricia Numann Medical Student Award
The Patricia Numann Medical Student Award is named in honor of Dr. Numann, an ACS Past-President and founder of the AWS, who has done so much over many years to mentor and encourage medical students. The 2018 Patricia Numann Award was presented to Lisa Bevilacqua, MD, a general surgery resident at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, NY. In her fourth year of medical school, she conceptualized, planned, and evaluated a “boot camp” class designed to improve the preparedness of medical students entering surgical specialties. She found great success encouraging other students and working with dean’s office staff and faculty from different departments in the creation of her course.
The AWS Foundation is dedicated to advancing women’s careers in surgery through its awards and fellowships. At present, there is only one surgeon for every 200,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa. Although women comprise more than 50 percent of the population in Africa, they represent only 7 percent of the surgical workforce. To help address this discrepancy, the AWS Foundation provides educational and career development opportunities for women surgeons in low and lower-middle income countries (LMIC). This year’s AWS Foundation LMIC Award recipient is Mumba Chalwe Kaja, MD, the first woman urologist in Zambia. This award enabled her to make the journey from Zambia to Mozambique and participate in the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) annual meeting and the Women in Surgery Africa annual meeting.
This year for the first time, thanks to a generous grant from the Hellman Foundation, the AWS Foundation will partner with the ACS–COSECSA Women Scholars Program. Each scholarship is worth $2,500 and covers membership in both COSECSA and in the ACS for four years, as well as exam fees and travel to and from the exam sites. In addition to paying 50 percent of each scholarship, the AWS Foundation will pay the annual AWS membership fee for the scholars.
For details or to make a donation, go to https://www.womensurgeons.org/SupportAWSFoundation