Illinois Medicine. It happens here.It’s always happened here.
The University of Illinois College of Medicine celebrates its tradition of excellence through the recognition of individuals who have significantly supported the mission of the college. The Illinois Medicine Awards were expanded in 2014 from the original Distinguished Alumnus Award to include additional acknowledgement for a wider variety of contributions to the field of medicine, the community, the University and the College itself.
On Friday, November 15, 2019 the University of Illinois College of Medicine will celebrate its distinguished award winners. The 2019 Illinois Medicine Awards are being presented to five influential honorees – each of whom have contributed to the field of medicine or to the College of Medicine to advance its mission.
2019 Illinois Medicine Award Recipients
Pioneer in Medicine—Richard Novak, MD
Innovator of Today—Stacie Geller, PhD
Emerging Innovator—Matthew Bramlet, MD
Distinguished Alumnus—Jay L. Goldstein ’74, MD ’78, Res ’82
Spirit of Medicine—G. Stephen Irwin, MD ’77 and Kathleen Irwin
2018 Illinois Medicine Awards
Pioneer in Medicine: John M. Davis, MD
Innovator of Today: Rachel Yudkowsky, MD, MPHE ‘00
Emerging Innovator: Carrie Nieman, MD ’11, MPH ‘11
Distinguished Alumnus: Prerna Mona Khanna, MD ’91, MPH
Spirit of Medicine: Michael Reese Research and Education Foundation
The 2017 Illinois Medicine Award Recipients
Pioneer in Medicine: Emil J Freireich ’47, MD ’49
Innovator of Today: Bruce Gillis ’69, MD ’74, MPH
Emerging Innovator: Janet Lin, MD ’99, MPH ’04
Spirit of Medicine: Marion and James A. Grant ’52, MD ‘54
Distinguished Alumnus: Terry Mason, MD ’78
Pioneer in Medicine Award
2017 Recipient: Emil J Freireich ’47, MD ’49
Renowned for his landmark role in developing an effective treatment for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Dr. Freireich also proved the utility of combination chemotherapy and neoadjuvant therapy, two of the most important cancer treatments in the 20th century. Dr. Freireich and his colleagues are pioneers in the truest sense. Even in the somewhat chaotic early days of experimental chemotherapy, Dr. Freireich and his team’s research pushed the limits of experimental therapeutics; when one combination did not work or resistance developed, they quickly tried another, then another, until they found the four-drug combination that today saves the lives of 75 percent of children with this cancer.
Following this research, Dr. Freireich did not rest on his laurels but went on to become the first to perform leukocyte transfusion and show that peripheral blood stem cells could be engrafted, thus leading to allogeneic bone marrow grafts. He was instrumental in developing allogeneic platelet transfusion for managing thrombocytopenia as well as treatments for infectious complications, and he developed the first continuous-flow blood cell separator.
Dr. Freireich was a pioneer in the application of cytogenetic and molecular genetics to patient care and in evaluating the effects of therapy, including detection of minimal residual disease. His research and clinical work in the leukemia department at MD Anderson has been highlighted by his leadership in medical education. The recipient of almost every teaching award at the institution and many national and international education awards, he directed the special medical education programs, oversaw the physician-scientist training program, chaired curriculum committees, and organized the core curriculum. Notably, Dr. Freireich also obtained one of the first formal training program grants in medical oncology at MD Anderson. Dr. Freireich was recognized with the University of Illinois Alumni Association, Alumni Achievement Award in 2000.
Spirit of Medicine Award
2017 Recipients: Marion and James A. Grant ’52, MD ’54
Marion Grant and Dr. James Grant spent much of their careers and personal lives committed to innovation and service. Following his tour of duty in the Marine Corps, Dr. Grant found himself attracted to medical school although he came from an engineering background. Even in the earliest part of his medical school journey at the College of Medicine, Dr. Grant became the conduit for the physicians and engineers to communicate more effectively to develop a heart-lung machine – which was successfully put to use in 1952.
Dr. Grant opened a successful family medicine practice in San Diego, Calif. and later in Irvine, Calif. He stood out to his patients for his resolute commitment to their wellness, his distinct communication style and his outstanding skills as a diagnostician.
Following Dr. Grant’s successful private practices and Marion’s successful career as a high school principal, the couple sought to explore new horizons together that could draw upon their individual strengths. In 1990, they founded the country’s first private, free-standing plasma center in Tyler, Tex. After initial success, they opened another center in Austin, Tex. The Grants ran these two plasma centers – Austin Bio Med Lab – the largest in the country at the time, and truly transformed the industry – even shipping plasma across the world for use.
In 2007, the couple announced their transformative bequest commitment to the College of Medicine. Together, the couple has continued to support
Distinguished Alumnus Award
2017 Recipient: Terry Mason, MD ’78
After earning his undergraduate degree, Dr. Terry Mason earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine Chicago in 1978. Dr. Mason went on to complete his residency in general surgery at the University of Illinois Metropolitan Group Hospitals Program and his residency in urology at the Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center. Upon completing these residencies, Dr. Mason started his practice of urology with Dr. Harvey J. Whitfield. At Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, he developed a specialty service for male erectile dysfunction and prostate cancer.
In 1992, Dr. Mason became radio host of “Doctor in the House” on WVON 1690 AM in Chicago. The following year he founded Center for New Life, a business dedicated to integrating diet modification, and exercise to treat chronic diseases. In 2004, he launched the Restart4Health campaign. The campaign encouraged the public to stop unhealthy eating habits and to make smart food choices.
In 2005, Mason became the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health for the City of Chicago. As Commissioner, he was responsible for over 1,200 employees with an annual operating budget of approximately $200 million. In 2009, Mason retired from his position as Commissioner and became the Chief Medical Officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health. In this position he advises and led a team of medical experts on matters of public health importance.
Dr. Mason has also served as national chairman of urology at the National Medical Association, and as the Midwest regional chair for Chicago’s National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer. Dr. Mason is a member of the Cook County Physicians Association and was featured in the film “Forks over Knives” in 2001. He has been featured on My Fox Chicago and Chicago Tonight for American Heart Health month.
Emerging Innovator Award
2017 Recipient: Janet Lin, MD ’99, Res ’02, MPH ’04
Janet Lin is the principal investigator of a program, Project HEAL, which works to increase HIV and HCV education, awareness, testing, and linkage to care. Dr. Lin has been recognized locally, nationally and internationally for her service and education. She is a recipient of the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award, a merit-based award for tenured faculty recognizing academic distinction. She served as Chair of the International Section of the American College of Emergency Physicians and is currently the Secretary/Treasurer of the Illinois Chapter of the College of Emergency Physicians.
She recently stepped down as the director of the International Emergency Medicine and Global Health Fellowship program after 11 years. This program trains post-graduate physicians to become leaders in global health. She has earned certificates in tropical medicine and has consulted on global health issues. She has done extensive work primarily in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Dr. Lin has led multidisciplinary teams which include nursing, public health, medicine, business, and engineering to various parts of the world in order to improve access and the provision of care in resource-limited settings.
Innovator of Today Award
2017 Recipient: Bruce Gillis ’69, MD ’74, MPH
Bruce S. Gillis, MD, MPH, is the Founder of EpicGenetics, a biomedical company dedicated to developing conclusive diagnostic tests for complex medical conditions. Under Dr. Gillis’ leadership, EpicGenetics has developed the first diagnostic test for fibromyalgia – The FM/a® Test. Recognized for his exceptional research in multiple peer-reviewed manuscripts, Dr. Gillis has established himself as a physician, an entrepreneur and as a medical researcher.
For the last several years Dr. Gillis has maintained active research programs at both the University of Illinois College of Medicine Chicago and the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Gillis received his undergraduate and medical education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and concurrently also attended the Harvard School of Public Health where he earned a Master in Public Health degree. In the span of seven years, Dr. Gillis completed medical school, his Harvard master’s degree program, two medical residencies and two medical fellowships. He has had faculty positions both at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Illinois College of Medicine Chicago.
* Demonstrated outstanding contributions and exceptional service to the medical profession, the community, the College of Medicine and/or the University
* Nominations must be made by a College of Medicine alumni, faculty, staff or student
* The Pioneer in Medicine Award is the only award that can be awarded posthumously