Distinguished alumni and faculty at the UC Davis School of Medicine are among the recipients who will receive awards from the Cal Aggie Alumni Association for their contributions to medicine and service to the university and the community at the 2012 Alumni Awards Gala on Saturday at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma.
Thomas Nesbitt, associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies at UC Davis Health System, will receive the Distinguished Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions in applying technology to improve health. Earl F. Wolfman, Jr., a professor and dean emeritus and founding chair of the surgical sciences division at the UC Davis School of Medicine, will be honored with the Distinguished Friend of the University Award for his philanthropic leadership, and Kathleen Taylor, a 1980 alumna, will receive the 2011 Emil M. Mrak International Award for her significant contributions to advancing women's health.
Distinguished Achievement Award: Nesbitt
Nesbitt, a UC Davis and School of Medicine alumnus, is a pioneer and visionary who uses technology to transform the delivery of health care and medical education in rural and remote areas. He is co-chair of the board of directors for the California Telehealth Network and director of the Center for Health and Technology at UC Davis Health System.
As a private-practice physician in the 1980s, Nesbitt witnessed firsthand what patients were missing in their health care merely because of their geographic location. In response, he launched a pilot project with a rural hospital in 1992, electronically linking physicians in a sparsely populated Sacramento Valley community with perinatal specialists at UC Davis Medical Center, two hours away. Over the course of nearly two decades, he built a preeminent telehealth services program that offers more than 30 clinical specialties for inpatient and outpatient care, distance education, video-interpreting, services for families (via FamilyLink) and disaster preparedness.
Under Nesbitt's direction, UC Davis has developed one of the nation's leading telehealth programs and is at the forefront of statewide programs that are expanding the state's medical education and telehealth capabilities. These include the Proposition 1D ballot measure and the $22 million grant from the Federal Communications Commission Rural Health Care Pilot Program to establish the California Telehealth Network. The network has attracted more than 800 health-care sites to become part of a "digital health highway" and is destined to become one of the largest in the nation dedicated to health care.
Distinguished Friend of the University Award: Wolfman
Wolfman has advanced UC Davis School of Medicine and made significant and lasting contributions to education and clinical care. His commitment to UC Davis stretches back 46 years to July 1966, when he came to Sacramento to start a new school of medicine. Working closely with John Tupper, the school's founding dean, he negotiated an agreement with Sacramento County to use the county hospital as a clinical and teaching facility. Two years and two months later they accomplished the seemingly impossible, admitting the first class of 48 medical students to what one day would become one of the nation's leading medical schools. It was the fastest start of a new medical school in modern history.
After 36 years of service as a faculty member, Wolfman has demonstrated his philanthropic leadership with the establishment of the Earl F. Wolfman, Jr., M.D., and Lois J. Wolfman Endowed Fund to enhance basic science, clinical education and research in the field of surgery. His recent endowment of a professorship in the Department of Surgery ensures his legacy as a visionary academician and administrator will be remembered prominently for years to come.
Emil M. Mrak International Award: Taylor
Taylor, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist who established a dynamic practice caring for the medically underserved in the Oakland area, is recognized for her leadership and educational outreach efforts to improve women's health in the developing world. As founder and executive director of Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer, she trains local medical providers in novel methods to detect and treat cervical lesions before they become deadly cancers. Because of her work, thousands of women have received early obstetrics and gynecologic treatment to prevent the agonizing complications and social shunning associated with late-stage gynecologic cancers.
Since its founding in 2005, Prevention International has provided care, supplies and training of local health professionals in nine countries, and today it has programs in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Peru, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and India. Fifteen sites have completed the training program and now are self-sufficient in screening and treating underserved women in local communities. Taylor spends three months each year overseas to guide these programs, which are supported by the work of volunteers and small individual donations.