AAMC Honors National Award Recipients

Nine individuals, one institution receive recognition at association’s annual meeting

The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) honored nine individuals and one institution for their outstanding contributions to academic medicine at an awards presentation on Sunday, Nov. 13, during Learn Serve Lead 2016: The AAMC Annual Meeting in Seattle, Wash. For more information, visit the 2016 AAMC Awards Recipients page

The awardees are:

Elizabeth Armstrong, PhD
Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education
An expert in curricular design and instruction, Dr. Armstrong has been instrumental in shaping medical education curricula across the globe. As founder and director of the Harvard Macy Institute, Dr. Armstrong has fostered a global community of thousands of educators and leaders to advance how health care is provided and taught. She has been called the “pied piper of medical education innovation” for her efforts to popularize learner-centered teaching methods, including case-study methodology, problem-based learning, and interprofessional education models.

Owen N. Witte, MD
Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences
For more than three decades, the scientific discoveries of Dr. Witte have led to lifesaving breakthroughs for once-fatal diseases. Dr. Witte has identified genes and enzymes that cause rare genetic cancers and immune diseases, and these discoveries have led to the development of pharmaceuticals that have revolutionized treatment for patients and illustrate the promise of the field of precision medicine. Dr. Witte continues to identify biological causes for fatal diseases as founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Philip Greenland, MD, FACP, FRCP
David E. Rogers Award
Known as the voice of preventive cardiology, Dr. Greenland has dedicated his career to advancing cardiovascular care around the world. One of the most highly cited scholars in cardiology, he has identified the major events that often precede heart attacks and identified important interventions that can help predict and prevent cardiovascular disease. Dr. Greenland is also a sought-after advisor who has led and served on dozens of federal panels and committees, including the Framingham Heart Study. In addition to his national service, Dr. Greenland is a valued professor and leader at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Somnath Saha, MD, MPH
Herbert W. Nickens Award
Through his scholarship, mentorship, and service, Dr. Saha is an influential advocate for health equity in classrooms and clinics, and his research has demonstrated the importance of diversity and inclusion to improve patient outcomes and medical student preparedness. His work has been foundational to many national reports, including those by the AAMC, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Saha’s commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusion continues in his faculty roles at the VA Portland Health Care System and at the Oregon Health & Science University, where he serves as course director for curricula on health disparities and community-based research for fellows and junior faculty.

Carol Gilbert, MD
Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award
Dr. Gilbert models compassion, collaboration, and patience for learners at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. For Dr. Gilbert, the clinic and the classroom are intertwined, and the person in front of her always has her complete attention. A trauma surgeon, Dr. Gilbert volunteers regularly in disaster recovery efforts and teaches emergency medical service providers. She has been instrumental in creating an integrated trauma system in the Near Southwest region of Virginia, and in 2002, she received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Emergency Medical Services.

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service
One of the nation’s first community-based medical schools, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine has been partnering with local communities since its founding in 1964. In Flint, home to the college’s public health–focused initiatives, the university partners with local hospital, government, and community stakeholders on the Flint Public Health Research Advisory Committee, which played a central role in exposing toxic lead levels in Flint’s water system. Other programs reinforce this community–college collaborative model, including the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a partnership between the school, community, and Hurley Children’s Hospital; the Rural Physician Program; integrated engagement planning across college campuses; and required community service for students.

F. Stanford Massie Jr., MD, FACP
Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award
As a professor of medicine, Dr. Massie has helped thousands of medical students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine find their passion for clinical care. He also assists those who teach, and in 2011, he cofounded the professional organization Directors of Clinical Skills Courses, which today has participants from nearly every U.S. medical school. Dr. Massie’s commitment to students is also evident in his scholarship, which has served as a framework to identify interventions that can mitigate medical student burnout.

Karl Patrick Ober, MD
Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award
For more than 38 years, Dr. Ober has influenced the lives of thousands of medical and physician assistant students, residents, and fellows. In return, learners at Wake Forest School of Medicine have honored the professor of internal medicine with more than 30 teaching awards, including establishing a leadership award that bears his name. In addition to his proficiency as a clinical educator, Dr. Ober is an internationally recognized expert in Mark Twain, with a particular focus on the author’s commentaries on medicine. Like Twain, Dr. Ober relies on storytelling to make even the most complex material approachable.

Dean X. Parmelee, MD
Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award
Dr. Parmelee has been an early pioneer of team-based learning and medical education innovation for more than three decades. In 2001, he joined Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine as associate dean for medical education, where he partnered with colleagues to transform the passive curriculum into one that engages learners. In addition, Dr. Parmelee has advanced active-learning techniques nationally and globally, has served as the inaugural president of the national Team-Based Learning Collaborative, and was instrumental in establishing a medical school in Saudi Arabia.

Thomas L. Pazdernik, PhD
Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award
Dr. Pazdernik has developed a reputation as an educational innovator at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. More than four decades ago, Dr. Pazdernik led the creation of a computer-assisted teaching system for pharmacology, coordinating efforts with dozens of domestic and foreign medical schools. Upgraded as technology changes, the system continues to aid students today. Dr. Pazdernik has received many honors for exceptional teaching and mentoring, including the Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award and selection as a University of Kansas Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professor.


The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. Its members comprise all 149 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, and more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves the leaders of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their nearly 167,000 full-time faculty members, 88,000 medical students, and 124,000 resident physicians. Additional information about the AAMC and its member medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at www.aamc.org.