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 2017 award recipients at the AWS Foundation Awards Dinner Monday night at the San Diego Marriott Marquis Marina.
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 2017 Nina Starr Braunwald Award was presented to Leigh Anne Neumayer, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair, American College of Surgeons Board of Regents. Dr. Neumayer is interim senior vice-president for health sciences, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson. She is internationally known for her leadership in the surgical community. Dr. Neumayer’s career has centered on surgical education and academic surgical oncology, and she is recognized as a gifted teacher and passionate mentor of women surgeons. She has served as president of the Association of Surgical Education and as a director of the American Board of Surgery. She was the first woman professor of surgery at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, where she held the Jon and Karen Huntsman Presidential Chair at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. She was recruited to the University of Arizona to be chair of surgery in 2014. A past-president of AWS, she received the Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award in 2006.
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. This year, the 2017 Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award was presented to two outstanding individuals: Karen Brasel, MD, MPH, FACS, and Kazumi Kawase, MD, PhD, FACS.
Dr. Brasel is an accomplished academic trauma surgeon, surgical educator, and leader. She is professor of surgery and program director, general surgery residency program, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland. Her previous leadership roles include serving on the 2014−2015 Executive Committee of the ACS Board of Governors and as a director of the American Board of Surgery. She has mentored medical students, residents, and young surgeons in a variety of subject areas, including research, education, and surgical care, and has directly influenced the careers of countless medical students, surgical residents, and young faculty.
Dr. Kawase is a surgical oncologist and associate professor of surgery, Jikei University School of Medicine and the Katsushika Medical Center, Tokyo, Japan. She is a founding member of the Japanese Association of Women Surgeons, Secretary of the Japan Chapter of the ACS, and vice-manager, office for women’s careers, Jikei University. Dr. Kawase is widely published in areas pertaining to gender equity. She is a member of the ACS Women in Surgery Committee and actively encourages women around the world to achieve their personal and professional goals.
Past Presidents’ Honorary Member Award
The Past Presidents’ Honorary Member Award is given to individuals who are supportive of AWS goals. The 2017 Past Presidents’ Honorary Member Award was presented to Keith Lillemoe, MD, FACS. Although his leadership abilities and clinical skills are impeccable, it is for his professional support of women that Dr. Lillemoe merits this award. As chair of surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, he has mentored and advocated on the behalf of numerous women residents and faculty. Nationally, he has used his position as president of prestigious surgical societies to advocate for pay parity and leadership roles for women surgeons.
Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Award
The Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Award is so 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 2017 Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Award was presented to Meredith Barrett, MD, a general surgery resident, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with significant research focuses in gastrointestinal disease and surgical education. She established the Women in Surgery collective at the University of Michigan to promote fellowship and support among women surgeons. Dr. Barrett was nominated by Michael Mullholland, MD, PhD, FACS, professor and chair, department of surgery, University of Michigan, who said Dr. Barrett “has become a major leader of women surgeons at the University of Michigan” and “will be a true force in American surgery and a great leader within our discipline.”
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 all medical students. The 2017 Patricia Numann Medical Student Award was presented to Mary Shen, medical student, University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill. Ms. Shen received the award in recognition of “her leadership efforts to promote opportunities for women in the surgical field, her commitment to surgery, and her contributions to research.” As President of the UNC Medical Student Chapter of the AWS, Ms. Shen expanded the woman medical student-surgeon mentoring program at UNC and created an undergraduate medical student mentoring program for women premedical students interested in pursuing a career in surgery. In addition, she was instrumental in developing a leadership curriculum within the medical school.
The AWS Foundation is dedicated to advancing women’s careers in surgery. For details or to make a donation, go to https://www.womensurgeons.org/support-aws/foundation/.