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AGA honors GI leaders with prestigious recognition awards

Chicago, IL (May 5, 2014) The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has announced the recipients of its annual recognition awards, given in honor of outstanding contributions and achievements in gastroenterology.

"AGA congratulates the 2014 recognition award recipients who have been acknowledged by their colleagues and institutions for their tremendous accomplishments, dedication and commitment to advancing our field," said Anil K. Rustgi, MD, AGAF, president of the AGA Institute. "Through innovative research, superb patient care, and tireless devotion to education and mentoring, these pre-eminent individuals have enhanced the overall practice of gastroenterology, hepatology, pancreatology and endoscopy. Truly, they deserve our appreciation and sincerest gratitude."

For more information on this year's recipients, visit

Julius Friedenwald Medal

AGA's highest honor is awarded to Nicholas F. LaRusso, MD, AGAF. The Julius Friedenwald Medal, presented annually since 1941, recognizes a physician for lifelong contributions to the field of gastroenterology. Dr. LaRusso, a former president of the AGA Institute, has dedicated his distinguished, 35-year career to the field of gastroenterology and to the service of AGA and its membership. AGA is sincerely thankful for his contributions.

Dr. LaRusso has had a remarkable tenure at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, where he currently resides as Charles H. Weinman endowed professor of medicine and a distinguished investigator of the Mayo Foundation. Over his time at Mayo Clinic, Dr. LaRusso has led countless efforts focused on increased innovation in patient care. Under his leadership, Mayo Clinic introduced two successful programs: the Program in Innovative Health Care Delivery and the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.

AGA Institute gratefully acknowledges AstraZeneca for making this award possible through a restricted grant.

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Distinguished Achievement Award

AGA honors John A. Williams, MD, PhD, with its Distinguished Achievement Award for his major research accomplishments that have significantly advanced the GI community's understanding of the pancreas. Through both direct research contributions and mentoring of other scientists, there is hardly an area of pancreatic biology that has not been influenced by his work. While maintaining his highly productive lab and prodigious record of publications, Dr. Williams has devoted significant time to mentoring young investigators and serving the medical community, holding countless leadership positions at prominent medical societies. Dr. Williams currently serves as chair of the department of molecular and integrative physiology and core director for the Diabetes Center in charge of the Morphology and Image Analysis Core, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

AGA Institute gratefully acknowledges AstraZeneca for making this award possible through a restricted grant.

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Distinguished Educator Awards

The Distinguished Educator Award acknowledges exemplary educators in the field of gastroenterology. AGA is proud to be awarding this honor to two deserving individuals.

AGA recognizes Joseph C. Kolars, MD, AGAF, a tenured professor and senior associate dean for education and global initiatives at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for his work on a national and an international level in advancing global partnerships to promote education and research.

Dr. Kolars has been an instrumental member of the AGA International Committee, working to advance support for new fellowship initiatives in under-resourced areas of the world.

AGA awards the second honor in this category to Nicholas J. Talley, MD, PhD, AGAF, a neurogastroenterologist who has been an active educator, researcher, administrator and clinician for more than three decades. Dr. Talley is professor of medicine and is currently on a research sabbatical from his role as the pro vice-chancellor and dean of health and medicine at the University of Newcastle, Australia; he also serves as an adjunct professor at both Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and as a foreign guest professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

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Distinguished Mentor Award

The Distinguished Mentor Award recognizes two individuals for achievements as outstanding mentors over a lifelong career.

Gregory J. Gores, MD, AGAF, the Reuben R. Eisenberg endowed professor of medicine and physiology and executive dean for research at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, has been a devoted teacher and mentor to medical students, residents and fellows for almost 30 years. He is an excellent administrator and a role model to his students and his peers who commend his efforts in fostering intellectual growth, career development and professional guidance. Dr. Gores is also an active AGA member and will assume the role of basic science councillor on the AGA Institute Governing Board effective May 6, 2014.

Robert S. Sandler, MD, MPH, AGAF, professor of medicine and epidemiology and former chief of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is recognized for his commitment to advancing the careers of young researchers. In 1990, Dr. Sandler received a T32 grant from NIH to train young investigators interested in gastroenterology clinical research and methods of epidemiology. His program, the first of its kind in the U.S., has operated continuously over the last 24 years and has served as a model for similar programs throughout the country. Dr. Sandler is a former president of the AGA Institute and current chair of the AGA Institute Publications Committee.

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Distinguished Clinician Awards

AGA recognizes two individuals, one in private practice and one in clinical academic practice, who have exemplified leadership and excellence in the practice of gastroenterology.

Gary W. Falk, MD, MS, AGAF, receives the first Distinguished Clinician Award for exemplifying leadership and excellence in the clinical academic practice of gastroenterology. Dr. Falk is currently a professor of medicine in the gastroenterology division at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, as well as co-director of the GI physiology laboratory. Dr. Falk is known, on a national and international level, for his work involving the early detection and prevention of Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer.

AGA recognizes Howard L. Taubin, MD, a practicing gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Associates, p.c., Stratford, CT, an affiliate of Bridgeport Hospital, for his accomplishments in private practice. Since 1973, Dr. Taubin has served numerous roles at Bridgeport and has been an integral part of the institution's gastroenterology section, serving for many years as chief, and a key faculty in the gastroenterology fellowship program since its inception. In 2010, Dr. Taubin became vice chairman of Bridgeport Hospital's board of directors.

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Research Service Award

AGA presents Jose Serrano MD, PhD, with its Research Service Award, which recognizes an individual who has significantly advanced gastroenterological science and research. Dr. Serrano, a nationally and internationally recognized expert on the epidemiology of digestive diseases, is the director for liver, gastrointestinal neuroendocrinology and pancreas programs for the division of digestive diseases and nutrition at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the NIH. Since joining NIDDK in 1999, Dr. Serrano has played a critical role in numerous activities supporting digestive diseases research throughout the U.S.

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Contact: Rachel Steigerwald
American Gastroenterological Association

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