NEWS | May 25, 2012

Six UC Davis faculty named Health Care Heroes


Six UC Davis faculty were named Health Care Heroes today by the Sacramento Business Journal for their outstanding achievements in health care in the Sacramento region.   

Heather M. Young, Thomas Balsbaugh, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Garen Wintemute, Thomas S. Nesbitt and Ralph de Vere White were among the 17 award recipients recognized in 11 categories including educator, researcher, entrepreneur and lifetime achievement award. This year, UC Davis Health System received the greatest number of Health Care Heroes awards in the Sacramento region.

Award Category: Educator
A nurse leader, educator and scientist, Heather M. Young is a nationally recognized expert in gerontological nursing and rural health care. As the founding dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, she led the launch of the school, development of a thriving graduate program, and the recruitment of the founding team of faculty and staff. She is also a member of UC Davis Health System's executive leadership team as associate vice chancellor for nursing. Most recently, Young has been recognized for her work at the state and national levels, leading efforts to implement recommendations of the recent Institute of Medicine report, "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health."

Thomas Balsbaugh, associate professor in family and community medicine, is a strong and innovative leader in medical education. As the department's residency director since 2005, he has created dynamic educational programs that foster collaboration and teamwork. He has developed new methods for teaching the use of electronic medical records, and has sought solutions for the primary care workforce shortage in medically underserved areas, both urban and rural. With special interests in chronic disease management, he is a strong advocate of the Patient-Centered Medical Home concept, which promotes the cost-effective delivery of health care and improved access to services to eliminate health disparities. The Medical Home utilizes teamwork, technology, and continuous improvement principles to deliver better care to patients and their families.


Photo of Heather Young
Heather M. Young

Photo of Thomas Balsbaugh
Thomas Balsbaugh

Photo of Irva Hertz-Picciotto
Irva Hertz-Picciotto

Photo of Garen Wintemute
Garen Wintemute

Photo of Thomas Nesbitt
Thomas S. Nesbitt

Photo of Ralph de Vere White
Ralph de Vere White

Award Category: Researcher
Irva Hertz-Picciotto
, professor of public health sciences and researcher at the UC Davis MIND Institute, is an environmental epidemiologist with over 200 scientific publications addressing environmental exposures including metals, pesticides, air contaminants and endocrine-disrupting compounds, their interactions with nutrition and their effects on pregnancy, newborns and child development. She is director for CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risk from Genes and Environment), the first comprehensive study aimed at identifying exposures potentially causing autism or developmental delay, and MARBLES (Markers of Autism Risk in Babies - Learning Early Signs) which is searching for early markers that will predict autism, beginning during pregnancy. She is also director of the Northern California Center for the National Children's Study.

Garen Wintemute, professor of emergency medicine and founding director of the Violence Prevention Research Program, is a pioneer and innovator in the field of injury epidemiology and the prevention of firearm violence. For more than 30 years, his passion to understand the nature of firearm violence has resulted in groundbreaking research that has transformed public health. From his early work, which identified and eliminated similarities between real guns and toy guns to prevent accidental deaths in children, to his more current focus on eliminating the source of guns used disproportionately in crime, Wintermute is using creative and uncommon approaches to improve health.

Award Category: Entrepreneur
Thomas S. Nesbitt
, associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances, is responsible for advancing the UC Davis Health System's excellence in telehealth. He works closely with leaders throughout the state in developing partnerships with regional hospitals, clinics and centers to expand access to quality health care and create a statewide broadband telehealth network. As founding director of the Center for Health and Technology, Nesbitt oversees UC Davis' telehealth, distance learning and medical informatics programs, and he establishes multidisciplinary collaboratives that are responsible for leveraging new telecommunications technologies to improve access to high-quality patient care, information resources and medical education opportunities.

Award Category: Lifetime Achievement Award
Ralph de Vere White
, a renowned urologist and cancer researcher for over 30 years, serves as the director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. He has led the center's remarkable growth in clinical care and research prominence. De Vere White has been instrumental in creating an environment at UC Davis that fosters innovative collaboration among a range of experts from throughout the university and beyond to take on complex challenges in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancers. Under his leadership, the cancer center in 2001 was designated by the National Cancer Institute. His leadership in bringing unique, integrated cancer research programs, innovative biomedical technologies and cancer health disparities outreach and education to the center ultimately earned the center the NCI designation of "comprehensive" in 2012 -- the highest honor in oncology. 

The complete list of winners can be viewed here.

UC Davis Health System is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. The academic health system includes one of the country's best medical schools, a 631-bed acute-care teaching hospital, a 1000-member physician's practice group and the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. It is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, an international neurodevelopmental institute, a stem cell institute and a comprehensive children's hospital. Other nationally prominent centers focus on advancing telemedicine, improving vascular care, eliminating health disparities and translating research findings into new treatments for patients. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For more information, visit