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American Gastroenterological Association announces 2022 AGA Recognition Prizes

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Bethesda, MD (March 10, 2022) — The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has announced the 2022 recipients of its annual recognition prizes, given in honor of outstanding contributions and achievements in gastroenterology. 

“AGA is proud to officially announce the exceptional individuals selected for 2022 AGA Recognition Prizes. I wish to thank all the nominators and those who provided nomination letters, and the selection committees for the tough task they had to select among the many superb nominees,” said Bishr Omary, MD, PhD, AGAF, chair of the AGA. “Please join us in congratulating this year’s distinguished awardees and applauding their contributions to the field of gastroenterology that advance our profession and the patients we serve.” 

AGA looks forward to celebrating the recipients during Digestive Disease Week® 2022, May 21-24, in San Diego, California.    

Julius Friedenwald Medal 

AGA bequeaths its highest honor, the Julius Friedenwald Medal, to Timothy Wang, 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. Wang is known as a pre-eminent physician-scientist and one of the top GI lab researchers in the country. Continuously funded by the NIH since 1990, Dr. Wang began his career working on gastrin regulation but migrated over the years into areas of H. pylori infection, chronic inflammation, gastrointestinal stem cells and GI cancer. Dr. Wang has contributed strongly to the field of gastroenterology through his leadership for more than 16 years as the chief of the nationally renowned GI division at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.  

An AGA Fellow, Dr. Wang has demonstrated exemplary service to the AGA through his long and distinguished career. He joined AGA in 1989, his third year of fellowship, and has since served on and chaired numerous AGA committees and served as an associate editor for Gastroenterology for 10 years (1996-2001 and again, 2006-2011). Significantly, his commitment to the AGA culminated in his election to the AGA Governing Board in 2014 as vice president, and he served with distinction as AGA president in 2016-2017.  

William Beaumont Prize 

AGA honors Chung Owyang, MD, 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. Owyang is an internationally renowned gastrointestinal physiologist who has revolutionized the study of transitional neurohormonal control and behavior that can improve clinical treatments for gastrointestinal patients. During a span of 30 years, he made several seminal observations in the field of gut hormones and is considered a pioneer in gut endocrinology.  

He has received continuous NIH funding for more than 30 years. With more than 300 original articles and reviews in major impact journals, Dr. Owyang is one of the most respected physician-scientist gastroenterologists in the world. Dr. Owyang currently serves as H. Marvin Pollard professor in internal medicine at the University of Michigan. 

Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science 

AGA recognizes Michael Gershon, MD, with the AGA Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science for his major accomplishments in basic science research, which have significantly contributed to the understanding of the enteric nervous system. 

There have been few if any areas of enteric neurobiology that have not been influenced by Dr. Gershon’s research, who is considered by many to be the “father of enteric neurobiology.” Dr. Gershon’s discoveries around the role serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) plays in intestinal physiology have led to the development and application of some of the most commonly used drugs in the field of gastroenterology for treating adult gut motility disorders. Overall, his work has produced 437 peer-reviewed papers, influential reviews and his best-selling book “The Second Brain,” published in 1998. Dr. Gershon is currently practicing in the department of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University in New York.  

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 two congressional allies whose service has advanced AGA’s mission and our field at large.  

  • Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) 
  • Representative Raul Ruiz, MD, MPH, MPP (CA-36)  


Congresswoman DeLauro has always been a champion for the field of gastroenterology and our patients. In the 1990s, Rep. DeLauro was a strong proponent of managed care reform to guarantee that patients had access to specialty care at a time when insurers were delaying and denying care. A breast cancer survivor, Rep. DeLauro knows personally how vital it is to have access to affordable specialty care in a timely fashion. As chair of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. DeLauro was instrumental in including AGA language in the fiscal year 2022 Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education Appropriations bill that calls on NIH to study the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on colorectal cancer with a particular focus on minority populations who have higher incidence and mortality from colorectal cancer. She continues to fight for affordable health care in underserved communities.   

Congressman Ruiz has continuously advocated for affordable organized medicine in underserved communities. Since Rep. Ruiz arrived in Congress, he has championed the field of gastroenterology, patient education and outreach in California to help patients make informed health care decisions for themselves and their family members. During his time in office, he has focused on patient access, reducing regulatory burdens for physicians, and increasing health insurance coverage in vulnerable communities.   

AGA is thrilled to have advocates in Congress advancing policy priorities for our members and fighting on behalf of our patients.  

Research Service Award 

AGA honors David Saslowsky, PhD, with the Research Service Award, which recognizes individuals whose work has significantly advanced gastroenterological science and research.  

Since joining the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) in 2015, Dr. Saslowsky had contributed to the career development of countless digestive health and disease K award applicants and awardees, in addition to overseeing the R25 program, the loan repayment program, and a K award extension program that was initiated under his leadership in response to the hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Saslowsky currently serves as deputy director and program director of the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, where he provides important advice and direction for new initiatives in digestive diseases research through development of new program announcements and awards. In addition to overseeing these programs, he is very involved in the NIH loan repayment program that helps retain GI trainees in the research workforce.   

Distinguished Service Award in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 

AGA honors Folasade May, MD, PhD, MPhil, 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.  

Dr. May has a strong track record of health equity research in gastroenterology and hepatology and significant contributions to AGA and the broader community through advocacy, mentorship and public service. Dr. May is frequently called upon to discuss health disparities in the media and has also spoken to NIDDK on AGA’s behalf on strategies for combating disparities. Her early career research focus on Black-White disparities in colorectal cancer resulted in several manuscripts that characterize patient, provider, system and health policy barriers to participation in screening among Black individuals. This work led to the development, implementation and evaluation of interventions in the Veterans Health Administration and in underserved communities to improve colorectal cancer screening rates and colonoscopic follow-up after abnormal stool-based screening. As the associate director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity, Dr. May continues to address colorectal cancer inequities throughout the U.S..  

Dr. May has been actively involved in the AGA since her gastroenterology fellowship and, most notably, was selected for both of AGA’s prestigious leadership development programs: the AGA Future Leaders Program and AGA FORWARD Program. Dr. May is a board member and co-founder of the Association of Black Gastroenterologists and Hepatologists (ABGH). 

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 Higgins, MD. Dr. Higgins is one of the busiest and most sought-after gastroenterologists at the University of Michigan. He is recognized locally, regionally and nationally for his experience and expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. He has developed a national reputation for clinical excellence as evidenced by his consistent selection to “Best Doctors in America,” “America’s Top Doctors” and Hour Detroit’s “Best Doctors.” Dr. Higgins is an expert clinician as demonstrated by his wide referral base across the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. Within Michigan Medicine, Dr. Higgins has achieved the status of the “doctor’s doctor” providing care to many faculty members and their family members.  

AGA presents the Distinguished Clinician Award in Private Practice to George Triadafilopoulos, MD, AGAF, FASGE, AGAF, FACG, FACP, DSc, of Silicon Valley Gastroenterology, for his outstanding contributions as a clinician, researcher, educator and leader – a source of inspiration to a generation of gastroenterologists in northern California. Dr. Triadafilopoulos is known as a top esophageal disease specialist and is beloved by colleagues and patients alike. His clinical acumen, bedside manner and ability to work as a collaborative specialist are without equal. He puts his patients first in every endeavor – and every question that he asks with regards to research and education is linked to the ultimate measuring stick of improving patient care.   

Distinguished Educator Award 

The AGA Distinguished Educator Award honors an individual for achievements as an outstanding educator over a lifelong career. AGA presents the 2022 award to Duvur Reddy, MD, for his outstanding contributions in endoscopic education in India as well as in underserved communities throughout the world. Dr. Reddy developed a single-specialty hospital in gastroenterology that serves as a global hub for endoscopy training. He spends countless hours teaching medical students, residents and fellows and building the next generation. In recognition for his excellence in education, the government of India has awarded him the most prestigious BC Roy Award. He has also received awards from several governmental and non-governmental organizations in India and abroad.  

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 Anna Lok, MD, AGAF.  

Dr. Lok is an exceptional mentor who has trained more than 60 fellows and junior faculty, many of whom are now independently successful investigators and division/department chairs. She has mentored and built the entire University of Michigan Hepatology Program — all but two of the 18 current hepatology faculty were recruited after her arrival in 1995. Her dedication to training the next generation and her generosity with her time, knowledge, experience, connections and funds not only benefit her mentees but the patients they manage and the field of hepatology and gastroenterology. Dr. Lok is currently the Dame Sheila Sherlock distinguished professor of hepatology and internal medicine at the University of Michigan.  

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 Shailja Shah, MD, MPH, with the Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science. Dr. Shah’s research focuses on addressing fundamental knowledge gaps in the U.S. related to gastric cancer epidemiology, risk factors and outcomes, and highlighting the striking racial and ethnic group disparities. She designed and was the senior author for a landmark study demonstrating the cost effectiveness of endoscopy for gastric cancer screening in non-white race and ethnic groups in the U.S. (with a recent follow-up study among disaggregated Asian-American groups) and played a key role in developing the first evidenced-based guidelines for gastric precancer surveillance in the U.S. Dr. Shah is an associate professor of clinical medicine in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, CA. She is also a staff physician at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.  

AGA honors Kelley Yan, MD, PhD, with the Young Investigator Award in Basic Science. Dr. Yan’s research addresses important questions of adult stem cell biology using the intestinal epithelium as a model. Her research has furthered understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that maintain and regenerate the intestinal epithelium. Her long-term goals are to understand and then manipulate intestinal stem cells for therapeutic benefit in human disease. Her research has provided several conceptual advances. Dr. Yan is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of digestive and liver diseases in gastroenterology within the department of medicine at Columbia University in New York.  

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

About the American Gastroenterological Association 

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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