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Prestigious AGA Recognition Awards Presented to GI Leaders

AGA's highest honor is presented to Anil K. Rustgi, MD, AGAF.
Winning Trophy
Winning Trophy

Chicago, IL (May 9, 2017) — The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has announced the 2017 recipients of the annual recognition awards, given in honor of outstanding contributions and achievements in gastroenterology. 

“Each year, gastroenterologists have an opportunity to nominate and honor their colleagues through the AGA Recognitions Awards, a prestigious accolade and illustration of admiration,” said Timothy Wang, MD, AGAF, president of the AGA Institute. “AGA is privileged to count among our members such distinguished and accomplished individuals, who have contributed tremendously to the field gastroenterology. These individuals are representative of the many notable and gifted members who contribute to AGA.” 

For more information on this year’s recipients, visit

Julius Friedenwald Medal

AGA bequeaths its highest honor, the Julius Friedenwald Medal, to Anil K. Rustgi, MD, 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. Rustgi’s commitment, service and accomplishments in the field embody all the qualities needed for such recognition. A former president of the AGA Institute, he is a world-class investigator, leader and mentor whose career has spanned over 25 years, during which he has played an instrumental role as an investigator and clinician in GI oncology, with a focus on esophageal, pancreatic and colon cancers. 

Dr. Rustgi is the T. Grier Miller Professor of Medicine and Genetics, chief of the gastroenterology division and director of the NIH/NIDDK P30 Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive and Liver Diseases at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 

William Beaumont Prize

AGA honors David Ahlquist, MD, 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, for his work in changing the course of worldwide colon cancer detection. In a landmark study, Dr. Ahlquist discovered that in asymptomatic persons at average risk for colorectal cancer, multi-target DNA testing detects significantly more cancers and premalignant polyps than does the fecal immunochemical test. The implications of this study are enormous as availability of this easy-to-perform stool test that targets a panel of molecular markers moves to become one of the primary screening methods for colon cancer.

Dr. Ahlquist is currently a consultant for the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Mayo Clinic, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and the Carol M. Gatton Professor of Digestive Diseases Research Honoring Peter Carryer, MD. He has been a long-time member and speaker for AGA. 

Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science

AGA honors Juanita Merchant, MD, PhD, with the AGA Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science, for her major accomplishments in basic science research, which have significantly advanced the science and practice of gastroenterology. Dr. Merchant’s discoveries in the field of transcription factors and its application to gastric physiology and pathophysiology make Dr. Merchant an ideal candidate for this award. Among Dr. Merchant’s foremost achievements are her studies of hedgehog signaling in the stomach during homeostasis and neoplastic transformation. Studies from her lab have remained exciting, cutting-edge and focused on the regulation and downstream targets modulated by elevated gastrin. 

Dr. Merchant is currently a professor of internal medicine and integrative and molecular physiology at the University of Michigan. She has participated on the AGA Research Committee, AGA Nominating Committee, and MD-PhD, DVM Committee. 

Distinguished Educator Award

AGA recognizes and honors Hari Conjeevaram, MD, MS, 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. Conjeevaram has dedicated his entire academic career to the education, mentorship and empowerment of medical students, residents and fellows both domestically and globally. He has been selfless in these efforts and his trainees consider him a shining example of the ideal physician and exemplary educator they aspire to become. 

Distinguished Mentor Award

The AGA Distinguished Mentor Award recognizes two individuals who have made lifelong efforts dedicated to the mentoring of trainees in the field of gastroenterology and for achievements as outstanding mentors throughout their careers.

AGA bestows the first of two Distinguished Mentor Awards to John Carethers, MD, AGAF. It has been his continuous dedication to achieving excellence, his mentorship of GI fellows, postdoctoral fellows, medical students (both in clinical education and in medical research), undergraduate students, and his rigorous, yet highly supportive style that make him so deserving of this award. He has an infectious enthusiasm for research and scholarly work and for the field of gastroenterology at-large. 

AGA presents the second of two Distinguished Mentor Awards to Emeran Mayer, MD, PhD. Dr. Mayer’s contributions as a groundbreaking investigator set the stage for his impressive accomplishments in attracting and mentoring an exceptional group of trainees over three decades in the field of neurogastroenterology, visceral pain and brain-gut interactions. Hallmarks of his research are the consistent application of cutting- edge technology and analytical tools with high impact of findings across several disciplines. 

Distinguished Clinician Awards

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 Steven Burdick, MD. He is an accomplished individual who has dedicated his life to the advancement of the field of interventional gastroenterology. He has substantially and significantly contributed to make advanced interventional endoscopy what it is today. He continues to work to enhance quality of care and improve quality of life for his patients. 

AGA is honored to present the Distinguished Clinician Award, Clinical Academic Practice, to David Metz, MD, AGAF. Dr. Metz exemplifies traits of an exceptional physician in an academic setting, supplemented by superior traits as a teacher, mentor, investigator and leader. He is well-versed in all areas of gastroenterology, which has resulted in him being a respected teacher/clinician and a highly sought-after clinician and visiting professor in his areas of expertise (neuroendocrine tumors, peptic disorders, pharmacology and use of gastric antisecretory drugs, and GI bleeding).  

AGA Research Service Award

The AGA Research Service Award was established recognizes an individual who has significantly advanced gastroenterological science and research.

AGA honors Majorie Merrick with the Research Service Award. Ms. Merrick is an educator and leader at motivating individuals and groups to achieve their goals. She is a strong and supportive advocate for research, training and education, as well as patient support in the field of inflammatory bowel disease. She is skilled in building sustainable relationships and programs across a broad spectrum of disciplines, including organizational initiatives, medical and scientific research, peer-reviewed publications, and patient and professional education.  

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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.

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