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Prestigious AGA Recognition Awards Presented to GI Leaders

AGA’s highest honor is presented to Loren A. Laine, MD, AGAF
Close-up of a long row of trophies. Shot with shallow depth of field.
Close-up of a long row of trophies. Shot with shallow depth of field.

Contact: Aimee Frank
[email protected]

Bethesda, MD (Feb. 22, 2018) — The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has announced the 2018 recipients of the annual recognition awards, given in honor of outstanding contributions and achievements in gastroenterology.

“The AGA Recognition Awards provide an opportunity for AGA members to honor their colleagues and peers for outstanding contributions to the field of gastroenterology,” said Sheila E. Crowe, MD, AGAF, president of the AGA Institute. “This year’s AGA Recognition Prize winners are just a few of the notable and talented members who help make AGA such an accomplished organization. We are honored that such esteemed and accomplished individuals are representative of AGA.”

The AGA Recognition Awards will be presented during Digestive Disease Week® 2018, June 2 5, 2018, in Washington, D.C. 

Julius Friedenwald Medal

AGA bequeaths its highest honor, the Julius Friedenwald Medal, to Loren A. Laine, 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. Laine is known worldwide for his clinical research achievements, his role as an educator, and his decades of AGA leadership, including three separate terms on the AGA Governing Board and as AGA Institute President. He is among the top clinical investigators and educators in gastroenterology, widely regarded as one of the world’s experts on gastrointestinal bleeding and upper gastrointestinal tract injury. As AGA Institute President, Dr. Laine recognized the importance of the gut microbiome, which led to the establishment of the AGA Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education, which he still serves a one of the chairs and principle investigators of the AGA National Fecal Microbiota Transplant Registry. Dr. Laine is a professor of medicine and director of research at Yale University School of Medicine, and associate director, clinical-translational care, Yale Digestive Disease Center Fairfield, CT. 

William Beaumont Prize

AGA honors Mary K. Estes, PhD, 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. Estes’ fundamental discoveries and contributions to the field of gastrointestinal infections has had a world-wide impact on the care of children due to her work on rotavirus and individuals of all ages due to her work on norovirus. Dr. Estes, who won the 2010 AGA Distinguished Achievement Award, is currently a professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. 

Distinguished Achievement Award in Basic Science

AGA honors T. Jake Liang, MD, AGAF, 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. Liang has made seminal contributions with many ground-breaking discoveries in the field of viral hepatitis in both basic and translational research on hepatitis B and C and liver diseases. Dr. Liang is currently the chief of the Liver Diseases Branch and deputy director of translational research in the Division of Intramural Research of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

Distinguished Educator Award

AGA recognizes and honors James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE, 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. Lewis is a leading clinical investigator in the fields of gastroenterology, pharmacoepidemiology and safety of
therapeutics, especially related to inflammatory bowel diseases, who is an outstanding educator to students, residents, fellows and junior/senior faculty.  Dr. Lewis is a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 

Distinguished Mentor Award

AGA bestows the Distinguished Mentor Award to Dr. Estes, marking the first time an AGA member has been awarded two recognition prizes in the same year. 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.

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 Bertha (Nice’) E. Toriz, MD. Dr. Toriz is an outstanding teacher, effective leader and role model for ethnic diversity in practice. Her effective communication skills, inclusive style and commitment to quality clinical care have led to leadership roles in her practice and are an asset to her patients. Dr. Toriz is a practicing gastroenterologist at Minnesota Gastroenterology, P.A., Bloomington, MN.

AGA is honored to present the Distinguished Clinician Award, Clinical Academic Practice, to Michael L. Kochman, MD, AGAF. Dr. Kochman is a talented interventional endoscopist who applies his skills creatively, but safely, and holds himself and others to the highest of professional standards. His clinical, technical and interpersonal skills are appreciated by both his patients and colleagues. Dr. Kochman is currently professor of medicine and director of the Center for Endoscopic Innovation, Research and Training, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

Young Investigator Awards

The AGA Young Investigator Award recognizes young investigators who have performed basic research in the field of gastroenterology, demonstrated specific achievements in the areas of digestive and/or liver diseases research, or have performed major clinical or outcomes research in the field.

AGA honors David S. Goldberg, MD, MSCE, with the Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science. Dr. Goldberg is a leading young clinical investigator in hepatology/transplant hepatology. He has achieved success in academic hepatology at the highest level due to his work on liver disease epidemiology and translational/clinical outcomes in liver transplantation. Dr. Goldberg is the medical director for living donor liver transplantation, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 

AGA honors Andrew D. Rhim, MD, with the Young Investigator Award in Basic Science. A combination of compelling hypotheses, innovative approaches and work ethic have made Dr. Rhim one of the preeminent leaders in pancreatic cancer. He demonstrates vast knowledge and compassion for patients and is an excellent teacher and mentor to clinical trainees and those in his lab. Dr. Rhim is the associate director for translational research, at the Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research and an assistant professor of internal medicine, gastroenterology, at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX. 

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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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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 June 2-5, 2018, at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. 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 #DDW18. Become a fan of DDW on Facebook.

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