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American Gastroenterological Association announces 2021 AGA Recognition Prizes

Bethesda, MD (Feb. 2, 2021) — The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has announced the 2021 recipients of its annual recognition prizes, given in honor of outstanding contributions and achievements in gastroenterology.

“AGA Recognition Prizes allow members to honor their contemporaries for their exceptional contributions to the field of gastroenterology,” said Hashem B. El-Serag, MD, MPH, AGAF, chair of AGA. “The 2021 AGA Recognition Prize winners represent only a small group of our widely distinguished and exceptional members who help make AGA such an accomplished organization. We are honored that such esteemed individuals are representatives of AGA.”

This year the AGA Recognition Prizes will be presented virtually in May 2021.

Julius Friedenwald Medal

AGA bequeaths its highest honor, the Julius Friedenwald Medal, to Michael Camilleri, MD, AGAF, for his substantial contributions to the field of gastroenterology and AGA. The Julius Friedenwald Medal, presented annually since 1941, recognizes a physician for lifelong contributions to the field of gastroenterology.

Dr. Camilleri’s impact on the field of gastroenterology can be found in his work through diverse methods and studies of the gut itself, but also in his past AGA leadership roles including his service as AGA President. His passion for improving GI patient care shows through his research and development of novel and noninvasive diagnostic tools to replace invasive and less accurate diagnostic testing. Dr. Camilleri serves as a mentor to the next generation of gastroenterologists, including junior staff and medical trainees in the field of clinical enteric neuroscience research. Dr. Camilleri is currently a consultant in the Divisions of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Distinguished Service Award in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

AGA honors Drs. Byron Cryer and Sandra Quezada with this year’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. Drs. Cryer and Quezada are the co-chairs of the AGA Equity Project Advisory Board.

Beyond his specialty area of acid-peptic diseases of the upper gastrointestinal tract, Dr. Cryer is committed to mentoring and supporting the next generation of diverse gastroenterologists. He has been actively involved in AGA leadership including 2019 program director of the FORWARD Program which showcases AGA’s commitment to promoting diversity in the field of gastroenterology through the selection of 10 diverse and accomplished GI scholars. Dr. Cryer has the endowed title of John C. Vanatta, III professorship and is an associate dean for faculty diversity and development at University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School.

Dr. Quezada is currently an associate professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. She has authored several notable commentaries on health disparities in underserved communities and is the current chair of the AGA Diversity Committee. She serves as the associate dean for admissions, and assistant dean for faculty diversity and inclusion at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She is a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges Committee on Student Diversity Affairs as well as the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce.

Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science

AGA recognizes Kim E. Barrett, PhD, AGAF, with the AGA Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science for her major accomplishments in basic science research, which have significantly contributed to the understanding of digestive diseases.

Dr. Barrett’s laboratory has provided major understanding of the regulation of intestinal chloride secretion and the process of how diarrheal disease drugs are designed. She has served in several AGA leadership positions including basic science councillor on the AGA Governing Board, chair of the Ethics Committee and chair of the Publications Committee. Dr. Barrett is a distinguished professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology at University of California San Diego.

William Beaumont Prize

AGA honors David Y. Graham, MD, with the William Beaumont Prize in Gastroenterology, which recognizes individuals who have made unique, outstanding contributions of major importance to the field of gastroenterology.

Dr. Graham has played a leading role in revolutionizing the understanding and care of patients with digestive diseases through clinical and translational research efforts related to Helicobacter pylori as the cause of peptic ulcers and gastric cancer. He is a professor of medicine, gastroenterology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

Distinguished Educator Award

The AGA Distinguished Educator Award goes to Lin Chang, MD, AGAF, for her outstanding contributions as an educator in gastroenterology on both local and national levels. She has taught countless lectures and presentations to medical students, residents and fellows on her focused research in pathophysiology and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Dr. Chang is vice-chief of the Vatche and Tamar Manouklan Division of Digestive Diseases and professor of medicine in the department of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is also Program Director of the GI Fellowship Program at UCLA.

Distinguished Clinician Awards

The AGA Distinguished Clinician Awards recognize members of the practicing community who, by example, combine the art of medicine with the skills demanded by the scientific body of knowledge in service to their patients.

AGA is honored to present the Distinguished Clinician Award in Academic Practice to Peter H.R. Green, MD. Dr. Green has made a lasting impact in celiac disease patient care by founding the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center over 20 years ago. Through his leadership, the center includes adult and pediatric gastroenterologists, dieticians and research coordinators who participate in active research collaborations worldwide. Dr. Green is the Phyllis & Ivan Seidenberg professor of medicine and director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York.

AGA presents the Distinguished Clinician Award in Private Practice to Nimish Vakil, MD, AGAF, FASGE. Patients and physicians alike seek his advice in esophageal, gastrointestinal disorders. Dr. Vakil is a gastroenterologist at Aurora Healthcare and professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is affiliated with Aurora Medical Center in Summit, Wisconsin. His research interests have involved dyspepsia, H. pylori and reflux disease. He has collaborated on studies with investigators in many countries and has lectured around the world. He has helped train GI fellows for two decades.

Distinguished Mentor Award

The AGA Distinguished Mentor Award recognizes an individual who has made a lifelong effort dedicated to the mentoring of trainees in the field of gastroenterology and for achievements as outstanding mentors throughout their careers. AGA bestows this year’s award to Vay Liang W. “Bill” Go, MD, AGAF.  Dr. Go is an exceptional mentor and has trained over 90 fellows and junior faculty, some of whom have gone on to provide national and international leadership in gastroenterology, pancreatology and nutrition. He is the 2007 AGA Institute Council Section Research Mentor Award recipient. Dr. Go is the co-director of the University of California, Los Angeles  Agi Hirshberg Center for Pancreatic Diseases and distinguished professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles.

Research Service Award

AGA honors Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP, with the Research Service Award, which recognizes individuals whose work has significantly advanced gastroenterological science and research. Dr. Rodgers is director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a research investigator, widely recognized for his contribution to the development of the first effective and FDA-approved therapy for sickle cell anemia. Through Dr. Rodgers’ leadership, NIDDK-supported advances in genetics, the gut microbiome, and other factors are leading to more personalized, and ultimately more effective, treatments.

Outstanding Service Award

The AGA Outstanding Service Award was created in 1972 to honor an individual(s) who has contributed significantly to society’s health and welfare. This year, AGA honors the following members of the AGA Institute Clinical Guidelines Committee and Clinical Practice Updates Committee who comprised the rapid review working group for COVID-19 guidance:

  • Shahnaz Sultan, MD, MHSc, AGAF, program director, Gastroenterology Fellowship Training Program and associate professor of medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at University of Minnesota
  • Osama Altayar, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, John T. Milliken Department of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
  • Perica Davitkov, MD, associate program director, Gastroenterology Fellowship Training, assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University, gastroenterologist at the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System
  • Joseph D. Feuerstein, MD, associate professor of medicine, associate clinical chief, gastroenterology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
  • Shazia M. Siddique, MD, MSHP, assistant professor of medicine, Gastroenterology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
  • Yngve T. Falck-Ytter, MD, AGAF, chief of GI at VA Northeast Ohio Health Care System, professor of medicine, Case Western Reserve University
  • Joseph K. Lim, MD, AGAF, professor of medicine, director, clinical hepatology, Yale University School of Medicine

This group was charged with the rapid dissemination of evidence-based practices for gastroenterologists during the COVID-19 pandemic and followed through with three rapid review documents using GRADE methodology within the first few months of the pandemic. Simultaneously, Drs. Sultan and Falck-Ytter contributed their expertise as methodologists to COVID-19 guidelines for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The working group’s contributions were essential to providing rigorous clinical guidance to aid clinicians in navigating patient care throughout the pandemic.

Young Investigator Awards

The AGA Young Investigator Awards recognize two young investigators, one in basic science and one in clinical science, for outstanding research achievements.

AGA honors Arthur Beyder, MD, PhD, with the Young Investigator Award in Basic Science. Known for his strong clinical and academic interests in functional and motility disorders, Dr. Beyder focuses on understanding the mechanisms of GI tract function and dysfunction in studies ranging from molecules to humans. Dr. Beyder believes that understanding of how the gut feels and responds to mechanical forces will lead to novel diagnostic and therapeutic options for the functional GI disease patients. Dr. Beyder is an associate professor of medicine and physiology and a consultant in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

AGA honors Elliot Benjamin Tapper, MD, with the Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science. Dr. Tapper’s research focuses on improving the outcomes, quality of life and freedom from adverse events for patients with decompensated cirrhosis, with a specific focus on those with or at risk for hepatic encephalopathy. He is also active in quality improvement studies, modeling of medical decision making and health care cost-effectiveness. Dr. Tapper is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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Media contact: Courtney Reed, media@gastro.org, 301-272-0025

About the AGA Institute

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. www.gastro.org.

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