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January 30, 2019

GI leaders recognized by AGA’s prestigious recognition awards

AGA’s highest honor is presented to John I. Allen, MD, MBA, AGAF
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Bethesda, MD (Jan. 30, 2019) — The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has announced the 2019 recipients of the annual recognition awards, given in honor of outstanding contributions and achievements in gastroenterology.

“AGA members honor their colleagues and peers for outstanding contributions to the field of gastroenterology by nominating them for the AGA Recognition Awards,” said David A. Lieberman, MD, AGAF, president of the AGA Institute. “We are proud to announce the 2019 AGA Recognition Prize winners, who are just a few of the distinguished and talented members who help make AGA such an accomplished organization. We are honored that such esteemed individuals are representative of AGA.”

The AGA Recognition Awards will be presented during Digestive Disease Week® 2019, May 18-21, 2019, in San Diego. 


AGA bequeaths its highest honor, the Julius Friedenwald Medal, to John I. Allen, MD, MBA, AGAF, for his incredible contributions to the field of gastroenterology and AGA over several decades. The Julius Friedenwald Medal, presented annually since 1941, recognizes a physician for lifelong contributions to the field of gastroenterology.

Dr. Allen is internationally-renowned for bringing unique and critical knowledge about health care delivery and health care economics to the field of gastroenterology, as well as for his decades of AGA leadership. His experience is unique within the national gastroenterology community, encompassing private practice, non-academic health systems and leadership within two academic medical centers. As AGA Institute President, he led the development of AGA’s five-year strategic plan and made AGA a national player at the federal, state and local levels during a time of massive health care delivery transformation. Dr. Allen is a clinical professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology and chief clinical officer of the University of Michigan Medical Group at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor. 


AGA honors Harry B. Greenberg, MD, with the AGA Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science, for his major accomplishments in basic science research, which have significantly advanced the science and practice of gastroenterology. Throughout his career, Dr. Greenberg’s incredible contributions over several decades contributed to the development of rotavirus vaccines and increased physicians’ understanding of viral pathogenesis, particularly rotavirus, norovirus and hepatitis. Dr. Greenberg is an associate dean for research at Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California.


AGA honors Timothy C. Wang, MD, AGAF, with the William Beaumont Prize in Gastroenterology, which recognizes an individual who has made a unique, outstanding contribution of major importance to the field of gastroenterology. Dr. Wang’s extraordinary contribution to the understanding and practice of modern gastroenterology and digestive science are exemplified through his work, which includes defining the mechanisms and cellular origins of Barrett’s esophagus and gastroesophageal cancer. Dr. Wang, who has served AGA in numerous positions, including as president of the AGA Institute, is currently chief of the division of digestive and liver diseases at Columbia University Medical Center and the Dorothy L. and Daniel H. Silberberg Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York.


AGA recognizes and honors Deborah D. Proctor, MD, AGAF, with the Distinguished Educator Award, which recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions as an educator in gastroenterology on both local and national levels, over a lifelong career. Dr. Proctor is a national expert in gastroenterology training and education who has taught and inspired generations of future gastroenterologists, nurses and physician assistants. Currently serving as the AGA Institute Education & Training Councillor, Dr. Proctor is a professor of medicine, and the medical director of the inflammatory bowel disease program, at Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut. 


The AGA Distinguished Clinician Award recognizes 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 presents the Distinguished Clinician Award, Private Practice, to Naresh T. Gunaratnam, MD, AGAF. Dr. Gunaratnam has made a huge impact on patient care in his community and improved gastroenterology-oncology care by starting the endoscopic ultrasound & interventional GI program at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Dr. Gunaratnam is a director of research and obesity management at Huron Gastro.  

AGA is honored to present the Distinguished Clinician Award, Clinical Academic Practice, to Edward V. Loftus Jr., MD, AGAF. Dr. Loftus is an outstanding role model in practice, an effective researcher and a recognized leader who is devoted to treating patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease with quality clinical care, including understanding the predictors of treatment response. Dr. Loftus is a practicing gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic and a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Rochester, Minnesota.


AGA bestows the Distinguished Mentor Award to Fred S. Gorelick, MD, which 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. Dr. Gorelick has been an inspiration to generations of trainees, many of whom have gone on to successful academic careers as faculty members, section chiefs, program directors, department chairs, and institute directors. Dr. Gorelick is a professor of medicine and cell biology at Yale School of Medicine, and deputy director of the Yale MD – PhD Program, New Haven, Connecticut.


AGA honors Ann G. Zauber, PhD, with the Research Service Award, which recognizes individuals whose work has significantly advanced gastroenterogical science and research. Dr. Zauber’s accomplishments have changed and advanced the practice of gastroenterology. Her work involving colorectal cancer screening and surveillance studies has had far-reaching effects on public policy. She is well-known for her leadership role in the development of colorectal cancer screening guidelines in the U.S., which has significantly reduced mortality and incidence rates. Dr. Zauber is an attending biostatistician in the department of epidemiology & biostatistics at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.


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

AGA honors Sonia S. Kupfer, MD, with the Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science. Dr. Kupfer is nationally and internationally recognized as an expert in colorectal cancer in high risk populations including individuals with hereditary cancer syndromes and African-Americans. During her clinical and translational research to better understand factors that increase the risk of colorectal cancer, Dr. Kupfer identified distinctions in the African-American population compared with Caucasians.  Dr. Kupfer is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, and director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic, Illinois.
AGA honors Costas A. Lyssiotis, PhD, with the Young Investigator Award in Basic Science. His research, work ethic and innovative approaches have made Dr. Lyssiotis a distinguished leader in pancreatic cancer. His work has broad implications for harnessing the power of the immune system to treat the disease and his laboratory is working to develop new drug therapies that target a pancreatic cancer metabolism-specific enzyme. Dr. Lyssiotis is an assistant professor in the department of molecular and integrative physiology in the division of gastroenterology at University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor.

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Media contact: Aimee Frank,, 301-941-2620

About the AGA Institute 
The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, 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.

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About Digestive Disease Week® (DDW)
Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. Jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), DDW takes place May 18-21, 2019, at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, California. The meeting showcases more than 5,000 abstracts and hundreds of lectures on the latest advances in GI research, medicine and technology. More information can be found at

Follow us on Twitter @DDWMeeting; hashtag #DDW19. Become a fan of DDW on Facebook.

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