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2006 Presidential Awards

Honoring excellence at the Health Science Center

May 2006

Sunil K. Ahuja, M.D., M.Sc.
Sunil K. Ahuja, M.D., M.Sc.
Every faculty and staff member makes a difference through dedicated efforts in offices, labs, clinics and classrooms. Many go above and beyond expectations to help further the Health Science Center’s mission.

Each year, President Cigarroa recognizes, with the Presidential Awards, 16 faculty and staff members who are shining examples of excellence, commitment and leadership. They provide the groundwork for future generations of scientists and health care providers.

Sunil K. Ahuja, M.D., M.Sc., received this year’s highest honor — the 2006 Presidential Distinguished Scholar Award. Dr. Ahuja is professor of medicine (infectious diseases), microbiology and immunology, director of the Veterans Administration Center for HIV/AIDS Research, and the President’s Council Chair for Excellence in Medical Research.

Since his arrival, Dr. Ahuja has brought more than $18 million in research funding to the Health Science Center for the study of HIV-1 genetics.

"Dr. Ahuja is changing the way the scientific world looks at infectious diseases, particularly HIV and the AIDS epidemic," Dr. Cigarroa said.

Dr. Ahuja was recently recognized with a rare and prestigious MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health. Fewer than 5 percent of NIH-funded investigators are selected to receive this honor. He has consistently published articles in prominent peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Nature Medicine and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Special recognition also was given to Julio C. Palmaz, M.D., who revolutionized cardiology and peripheral vascular medicine by inventing the world’s first stent. Dr. Palmaz was named an Ashbel Smith Professor. The professorship is named for Ashbel Smith, M.D., pioneering Texas physician who was the first chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents (1881-1886).

"The Palmaz Stent is rightfully included today whenever the world’s greatest medical inventions are chronicled," President Cigarroa, said. "It is most fitting that we appoint this great physician-scientist to the Ashbel Smith Professorship, which remembers another Texas physician and pioneer of important distinction."

Fifteen other Health Science Center faculty and staff members were honored with excellence awards. They are:

Presidential Teaching Excellence Award
Margaret Bell, PhD, MPH, RN
Cheryl Burns, MS
Sara L. Gill, PhD, MSN, RN
W. Ross Lawler, MD
John C. Lee, PhD
William F. Rose Jr., DDS

Presidential Clinical Excellence Award
Javier Kane, MD
Michael Lichtenstein, MD, MSc
Robert W. Parker, MD

Presidential Junior Research Scholar Award
Sang Eun Lee, PhD

Presidential Employee Excellence in Service Award
Robert P. Edwards, RN
Alida Gage
Sharon Guevara
Nelda Potter
Sam Reyes


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