Two UC Davis Health System faculty were recognized with the Hibbard Williams Extraordinary Achievement Award and the C. John Tupper Prize for Excellence in Teaching during the School of Medicine commencement ceremony on May 19, 2012. The Williams Award went to J. Nilas Young, professor and chief of cardiothoracic surgery, and the Tupper Prize was given to Lavjay Butani, professor and chief of pediatric nephrology.
Named for the second dean of the medical school, the Williams Award recognizes exceptional faculty contributions beyond traditional teaching and research roles. Young has brought international distinction to UC Davis through his leadership of the cardiothoracic surgery team and as medical director of the Heart to Heart International Children's Medical Alliance. In 1989, he co-founded the organization to bring surgical expertise to children worldwide whose congenital heart defects cannot be repaired in their own countries. He has since made yearly humanitarian visits to Russia to provide critical medical services and physician training.
Young has been with UC Davis since 2001, where he is recognized for his expertise in surgical treatments for high-risk cardiac patients. His research focuses on improving patient outcomes, including investigating the potential of microRNAs to regenerate injured myocardium tissue, perfecting complex aortic surgery procedures and defining pre-operative therapies to reduce post-operative complications. As director of the cardiothoracic surgery residency program, he is known for recruiting superior surgeons-in-training to the university and for his skilled, approachable mentorship style.
Created by the founding dean of the medical school, the Tupper Award recognizes sustained and enduring contributions to medical education. An important factor in the selection of award recipients is widespread recognition as an outstanding teacher.
Butani, who has been with UC Davis since 1999, is a thoughtful, inspiring educator who encourages critical thinking and humanism among medical residents and students. He is known for inspiring confidence and trust among those he teaches while leading them to achieve the highest standards in family-centered, evidence-based pediatric care.
Butani leads the only pediatric nephrology program in the region and a team that is nationally recognized for advanced care and research to improve outcomes and quality of life for children with kidney disease. He has particular interests in treating kidney transplant recipients and children with advanced chronic kidney disease.