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Introducing your 2024 AGA recognition prize recipients

Congrats to Dr. Bishr Omary on receiving our highest honor, the Julius Friedenwald Medal.
Recognition awards graphics
Recognition awards graphics

We are proud to announce the 2024 recipients of our annual recognition prizes, given in honor of outstanding contributions and achievements in gastroenterology and hepatology. We look forward to celebrating the recipients at Digestive Disease Week® 2024 from May 18-21 in Washington D.C. 

Click on each image below to learn more about our 2024 AGA recognition prize recipients. 

Julius Friedenwald Medal

The Julius Friedenwald Medal, presented annually since 1941, recognizes a physician for lifelong contributions to the field of gastroenterology. This year’s Julius Friedenwald Medal, AGA’s highest honor and achievement, is awarded to Bishr Omary, MD, PhD, for his honorable service to the field of gastroenterology and AGA.

Dr. Omary has an exemplary history of leadership and service with AGA. He has served on nine AGA committees and panels since joining AGA in 1994. He served as editor-in-chief of Gastroenterology from 2011-2016. Dr. Omary was crucial in helping AGA secure NIH grants to establish and support the AGA FORWARD program. Most notably, Dr. Omary served as AGA’s 115th president from 2020-2021 and helped lead the organization through the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. His colleagues describe him as an incredible servant-leader, champion and ambassador for gastroenterology. Dr. Omary currently serves as the senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and research at Rutgers Health (Rutgers University).

William Beaumont Prize

AGA honors Hashem B. El-Serag, MD, MPH, with the William Beaumont Prize in Gastroenterology, which recognizes individuals who have made major contributions that have significantly advanced the care of patients with digestive diseases through clinical or translational research.

Dr. El-Serag is an internationally recognized physician-scientist and clinical epidemiologist in both digestive and liver diseases and has dedicated a large part of his research to hepatocellular carcinoma. In addition to obtaining impressive research funding and publishing over 630 papers (h-index of 152) in the past 25 years, Dr. El-Serag has a remarkable service record at AGA since joining the membership ranks in 1996. He served as AGA’s 114th President from 2019-2020 and guided the organization through the turbulent start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He served as editor-in-chief of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology from 2012-2017. Dr. El-Serag has served as a faculty member at every AGA Academic Skills Workshop hosted since the program’s inception in 2004. In his current role, Dr. El-Serag is the chair of the department of medicine and vice president of the learning health system initiative at Baylor College of Medicine.

Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science

AGA recognizes Jerrold R. Turner, MD, PhD, AGAF, with this year’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science for his major accomplishments and contributions in basic science research, which have played a large role in our understanding of digestive disease.

Dr. Turner has been a leader in epithelial cell biology for more than 25 years. His research has led to critical insights into how the intestinal barrier is maintained in both homeostasis and dysregulated in disease. Dr. Turner is most well-known for his work on myosin light chain kinase (MLCK), where he has driven every major advance, from the initial discovery of MLCK as a key barrier regulator to the development of experimental therapeutic agents. Regarding Dr. Turner’s service to AGA, he founded AGA’s basic and translational science journal, Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology (CMGH). Dr. Turner currently serves as a professor of pathology and medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Distinguished Service Award in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Sophie Balzora, MD, is the recipient of AGA’s Distinguished Service Award in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This award honors members who have promoted diversity, equity and inclusion within AGA and the broader gastroenterology community.

Dr. Balzora co-founded and serves as president of the Association of Black Gastroenterologists and Hepatologists, a nonprofit organization which now has over 375 members, with the mission to improve health equity in Black communities and help advance science and develop the careers of Black gastroenterologists, hepatologists and digestive disease scientists. Dr. Balzora is a clinician-educator who is passionate about teaching, mentorship and advocating for DEI within the medical profession and in the delivery of patient care. Dr. Balzora currently serves as a clinical professor of medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Distinguished Clinician Award in Private Practice

AGA honors Scott Ketover, MD, AGAF, FASGE, with the Distinguished Clinician Award in Private Practice. Dr. Ketover, president and CEO of MNGI Digestive Health, has made a significant impact on a multitude of aspects of gastroenterology care and practice. He was the first to perform capsule endoscopy in his region and the first in his practice to perform push enteroscopy. Dr. Ketover has championed initiatives to enhance CRC screening rates in his community and oversees the Quality Council Committee at MNGI. His colleagues describe him as a role model not only in clinical practice, but also as a leader and an advocate for patients.

Distinguished Clinician Award in Academic Practice

AGA presents the Distinguished Clinician Award in Academic Practice to Shiv Kumar Sarin, MD, chancellor and director as well as senior professor at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in New Delhi, India. Dr. Sarin established the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, a first of its kind liver university. Dr. Sarin is extremely respected and looked up to by his colleagues with a very impressive and admirable academic career spanning more than three decades. He is a vital academic clinician who introduced several new treatment protocols in the field of hepatology, including the use of band ligation for primary prophylaxis of variceal bleeding.

Distinguished Educator Award

The AGA Distinguished Educator Award honors an individual for achievements as an outstanding educator over a lifelong career. AGA presents the 2024 award to David Katzka, MD, AGAF, for his outstanding achievements and contributions as a clinician, educator and researcher focused on esophageal diseases.

Dr. Katzka has been dedicated to serving AGA and its educational mission for decades. He has served as chair of the CME subcommittee within the AGA Institute Education and Training Committee. He was also the founding head of the AGA Institute Clinical Practice Updates Committee. He served as director of the AGA Postgraduate Course for two years and also had the privilege of serving on the AGA governing board as the education councilor. Dr. Katzka is dedicated to the promotion and mentorship of his fellow clinicians and his nomination for this award was supported by 18 of his colleagues. Dr. Katzka currently serves as professor of medicine and head of the esophageal interest group at Columbia University.

Distinguished Mentor Award

The AGA Distinguished Mentor Award recognizes an individual who has committed lifelong efforts to the mentoring of trainees in the field of gastroenterology and for achievements as an outstanding mentor. AGA honors John Pandolfino, MD, with this year’s award.

Dr. Pandolfino has chartered the course of esophageal motility disorders regarding pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment over the past two decades. In addition to his clinical contributions and leadership service, Dr. Pandolfino is a world-renowned mentor. He has provided valuable mentorship to fellows and faculty at Northwestern as well as to all those he has collaborated with both nationally and internationally. Dr. Pandolfino has been an advocate not just for his patients with esophageal disease, but for all his fellow colleagues who have dedicated their career to this subfield. Dr. Pandolfino currently serves as the chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science

AGA honors Mingyang Song, ScD, with the Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science. Dr. Song is known for his unique expertise in integrating population-based and patient-oriented clinical research and translating these epidemiologic findings into the clinic for cancer prevention. Dr. Song is an abstract reviewer for DDW and authored a Gastroenterology manuscript on gut microbiome in CRC that has become one of the most cited reviews in the journal’s history. Dr. Song’s colleagues describe him as a model young investigator for the GI research community. Dr. Song is currently an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Young Investigator Award in Basic Science

AGA honors Kathryn Hamilton, PhD, with the Young Investigator Award in Basic Science. Dr. Hamilton’s research focuses on post-transcriptional gene regulation in the intestinal response to injury and inflammation. In parallel, she is emerging as a nationally recognized investigator in the use of patient-derived organoids for the study of pediatric intestinal diseases. Dr. Hamilton is also devoted to training and mentoring, particularly women and those from underrepresented backgrounds. Dr. Hamilton is currently an assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

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