Public Release: 

AGA honors GI physicians, educators and mentors through annual awards

American Gastroenterological Association

Washington, DC (May 18, 2015) -- The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) is pleased to recognize the 2015 Research and Recognition Award winners, who were honored this past weekend at Digestive Disease Week ® (DDW) 2015 in Washington, DC.

"AGA is thrilled to announce the 2015 honorees, who are some of the most talented, hard-working and deserving members of our professional community," said John I. Allen, MD, MBA, AGAF, president of the AGA Institute. "We are humbled to be in the company of such innovative GIs, and AGA extends our deepest appreciation to the award recipients for their hard work and commitment to advancing the fields of gastroenterology and hepatology."

For more information on this year's recipients, visit (hyperlink to

Julius Friedenwald Medal

AGA awards its highest honor, the Julius Friedenwald Medal, to Robert S. Sandler, MD, MPH, AGAF, for his lifelong contributions to the field of gastroenterology and to AGA. Dr. Sandler, a former president of the AGA Institute, has dedicated his entire 40-year career to advancing the study of GI epidemiology, training and mentoring a generation of GI epidemiologists and academic gastroenterologists, and serving as an influential leader at AGA.

For his entire professional career, Dr. Sandler has resided at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, where he currently serves as the Nina and John Sessions distinguished professor of medicine and GI division chief, emeritus, and directs the multidisciplinary NIDDK-funded Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease. Throughout his career, Dr. Sandler has received more than 48 million dollars in extramural funding and has published more than 345 papers in peer-reviewed literature. Dr. Sandler is specifically focused on the epidemiology of several digestive disorders and cancer, and he can be credited with giving the field of digestive disease epidemiology and outcomes an early boost.

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

William Beaumont Prize

AGA presents C. Richard Boland, MD, AGAF, with its William Beaumont Prize, which recognizes an individual who has made a unique, outstanding contribution of major importance to the field of gastroenterology. Dr. Boland, who currently serves as the chief of gastroenterology at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, TX, is internationally recognized for his contribution to the description and research of Lynch syndrome. Dr. Boland began his work on colorectal cancer (CRC) as a medical student, when he independently discovered hereditary non-polyposis CRC in 1972 in pursuit of his thesis, and he has continued to work on this topic for more than 40 years. Among countless other contributions, his laboratory was among the first to develop methods to characterize DNA alterations from micro-dissections of paraffin embedded tissue.

Dr. Boland has been a member of AGA since 1978 serving in many high-level capacities, including president from 2011 to 2012. He has also mentored more than 75 mentees and continues to be an influential leader within the field of gastroenterology.

Distinguished Educator Awards

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

AGA recognizes Patrick S. Kamath, MD, an esteemed educator and gastroenterologist from Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, with its first Distinguished Educator Award.?Since 1991, Dr. Kamath has mentored more than 100 fellows who have benefited from his intelligent and thoughtful approach to teaching. His educational prowess has been recognized abroad, as Dr. Kamath has been invited to lecture in countries such as Italy, Spain, Austria, United Kingdom and Brazil and several countries in Asia; and at prestigious universities, including Brown University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Indiana University, Stanford University and Columbia University.?

AGA also recognizes Charles Melbern (Mel) Wilcox, MD, MSPH, with this prestigious award. For the past 12 years, Dr. Wilcox has served as the director of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he has pursued his teaching activities with enthusiasm, clarity of message and quiet passion. Since 1994, Dr. Wilcox has had an active role at AGA, serving as the editor-in-chief of AGA's clinical journal, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, from 2007-2012.

Distinguished Mentor Awards

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

Susan Henning, PhD, AGAF, the first awardee, is a well-accomplished mentor in the field of gastroenterology, and is an especially wonderful role model for women pursuing basic and translational science careers. Throughout her career, Dr. Henning has mentored more than 60 faculty, fellows and post-doctoral students. Along with her extensive background in mentorship, she has implemented various training programs throughout the country, including at Baylor University, where she served as the director of research training in pediatric gastroenterology. Dr. Henning currently serves a professor of medicine and cell biology and physiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

AGA recognizes M. Bishr Omary, MD, PhD, with its second Distinguished Mentor Award for being a trusted and influential mentor in the GI community. Throughout his 25-year academic career, Dr. Omary has trained more than 50 trainees and has come to be known as an outstanding mentor, a very gifted and dedicated physician-scientist, and someone who works extraordinarily hard on behalf of his trainees, mentees and faculty. In addition to his success in mentorship, Dr. Omary has also been a dedicated member of AGA for more than 20 years, currently serving as the editor-in-chief of AGA's flagship journal, Gastroenterology.

Distinguished Clinician Awards

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

AGA recognizes William (Bill) D. Chey, MD, AGAF, who currently serves as the director of the GI Physiology Laboratory at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as an outstanding clinician in academic practice. Throughout his career, Dr. Chey has built a world-renowned reputation as a talented and skilled clinician in gastroenterology, focusing on functional GI disorders, acid-related disorders and H. pylori infection. Since 2001, Dr. Chey has been consistently rated as one of the "Best Doctors in America" by Best Doctors, Inc. and listed in the top 1 percent of U.S. gastroenterologists in U.S. News and World Report.

Louis Y. Korman, MD, has also been recognized with the AGA Distinguished Clinician Award for his outstanding achievements in private practice. Dr. Korman is currently an attending physician at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Group in Washington, DC, and also serves as a staff physician at the Veterans Administration Medical Center and as a clinical associate professor in medicine at The George Washington University School of Medicine, also in Washington, DC. Dr. Korman has a keen understanding of the private practice environment -- issues of access, cost, referrals and quality --and is looked at by his colleagues as the go-to for complex GI problems, patient care, difficult procedures and pragmatic assessment of the medical literature.

Research Service Award

AGA presents Jay H. Hoofnagle, MD, with its Research Service Award, which recognizes an individual who has significantly advanced gastroenterological science and research. Since 2003, Dr. Hoofnagle has served as the director of the Liver Disease Research Branch at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Hoofnagle has worked tirelessly to advance research in chronic hepatitis and other liver diseases, and has been a strong advocate for federal funding of GI and hepatology research.


About the AGA Institute

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include 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.

Like AGA on Facebook Join AGA on LinkedIn. Follow us on Twitter @AmerGastroAssn Check out our videos on YouTube

About 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 May 16-19, 2015, at Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC. 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 #DDW15. Become a fan of DDW on Facebook.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.