The Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) Foundation honored several surgeons and trainees who are supportive of the AWS mission to inspire, encourage, and enable women surgeons to meet their professional and personal goals at its Virtual Awards Ceremony December 6, 2020.
Nina Starr Braunwald Award
The 2020 Nina Starr Braunwald Award, which recognizes a lifetime of contributions to the advancement of women in surgery, was presented to Beth H. Sutton, MD, FACS, Immediate Past-Chair of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Board of Regents. A general surgeon at United Regional Health Care System, Wichita Falls, TX, Dr. Sutton also is an active participant in the call schedule for the Level II trauma center and acute care surgery service and has served on almost every hospital committee and the hospital board. She also is past-president of the medical staff.
Dr. Sutton has served as secretary and president of the Texas Surgical Society, a highly selective organization limited to 300 members, and shares this distinction with ACS Past-President Courtney M. Townsend, Jr., MD, FACS. Dr. Sutton has served as President of the ACS North Texas Chapter, as an ACS Governor-at-Large, and on the Executive Committee of the ACS Board of Governors. She has led many of the ACS Governors’ subcommittees and Regental Committees of the College.
Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award
The Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award is presented annually to an AWS member who exemplifies the ideals and mission of the organization and recognizes contributions to the mentorship of women surgeons. The 2020 Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award was presented to Farah Husain, MD, FACS, associate professor of surgery, division of bariatric surgery, the School of Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland.
Dr. Husain trained and served in the U.S. Army as an active-duty surgeon from 2001 to 2010. After completing her training, she had two tours overseas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and shortly thereafter joined Emory University, Atlanta, GA, for fellowship training. She then traveled to Denver, CO, and helped Colorado’s Kaiser Permanente group start the first metabolic-surgical weight management department. During her time with Kaiser Permanente-Colorado, Dr. Husain was named the Outstanding Teacher by the general surgery residency program at Exempla St. Joseph Hospital and was nominated for Provider of the Year. She served as the area service chief for metabolic surgical weight management and was a member of the clinical competency committee.
AWS Past Presidents’ Honorary Member Award
The AWS Past Presidents’ Honorary Member Award is given to individuals who support the goals of AWS. This year’s award was presented to Donna Coulombe, Administrative Assistant, ACS Executive Services.
In 1996, Ms. Coulombe worked as the first administrative hire for the ACS Oncology Group, now known as the Alliance/ACS Cancer Research Program. She was then promoted and moved to the Department of Education and Research under the direction of Dr. Jonasson. During this time, she worked closely with W. Lynn Weaver, MD, FACS, to host the first annual minority mentoring high school program, which is still presented at the Clinical Congress. The Committee on Women Issues, now the Women in Surgery Committee (WiSC), also was started under Dr. Jonasson’s leadership, and Ms. Coulombe had the pleasure of working with this group from its origin.
Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Award
The Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Award is named to reflect the generous endowment established by Dr. Sanfey, Past-First Vice-President of the ACS and recipient of the 2020 ACS Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes surgical residents who demonstrate excellence in surgery and potential as future leaders.
The 2020 Outstanding Resident Award was presented to Yewande Alimi, MD, a general surgery resident at Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC. She has been recognized for excellence in clinical care, teaching, and research by Georgetown University School of Medicine and, in 2019, was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society as a resident inductee. Dr. Alimi also was awarded the 2018 Hufnagel Clinical Research Award.
Dr. Alimi is a clinical scholar of surgery and a fellow in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, CA. Her clinical interests include bariatric surgery, benign foregut disease, and minimally invasive abdominal wall reconstruction. Her research interests include disparities in access and outcomes in bariatric surgery and clinical outcomes in hernia and bariatric surgery.
Dr. Sally Abston Distinguished Member Award
The AWS Foundation presented the Dr. Sally Abston Distinguished Member Award, an award created by her colleagues and friends at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, to honor Dr. Abston’s exemplary inspiration to many people throughout her career. The award is given to an AWS member who, in addition to nationally recognized clinical expertise and outstanding mentorship, is a role model of “what I want my surgeon to be like.” The second recipient of this award is Laura Johnson, MD, an attending surgeon in burn and trauma surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and associate professor of surgery at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Dr. Johnson is committed to ongoing education, lecturing and publishing on burn, trauma, and ethics topics. Her trainees are her proudest achievements, and she mentors medical students and residents across a range of disciplines.
Patricia Numann Medical Student Award
The Patricia Numann Medical Student Award is named in honor of Patricia Numann, MD, FACS, ACS Past-President and founder of AWS, who has done so much over many years to mentor and encourage medical students. The 2020 Patricia Numann Medical Student Award was presented to Suzanne Murphy, a medical student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), and Betel Yibrehu, MD, a recent graduate from The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.
In 2018, Ms. Murphy started the RCSI student chapter of the AWS, an international organization that aims to promote and encourage women in surgery. It was the first Irish chapter of the organization and received significant support from the RCSI, winning the best new society at the RCSI student awards in 2019.
Dr. Yibrehu is postgraduate year one in general surgery at the University of Toronto, ON. She graduated with distinction from The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha and Gold Humanism Honour Societies. Dr. Yibrehu is interested in global surgery and will be completing a postgraduate certificate in global health over the next two years. Her other interests include diversity in medical education and surgical oncology.
The AWS Foundation is dedicated to advancing women’s careers in surgery through its awards and scholarships. Visit the AWS Foundation website for details.