LeBus becomes first grad to sweep Ho Din, Iatros awards

By Rachel Skei Donihoo / June 2011

Dr. George LeBus, whose natural curiosity, intelligence and compassionate spirit have earned him much admiration, has become the first UT Southwestern graduate to win the medical school’s top two graduating student awards in the same year.

At commencement ceremonies held recently in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dr. LeBus was presented with the 2011 Ho Din Award, the highest honor given to a graduating UT Southwestern medical student. In addition, he was honored with the Iatros Award, which is given annually to a graduate recognized by his or her peers to possess the ability to work with others and to have both clinical prowess and the desire to deliver quality patient care.

The Ho Din Award, presented annually by Southwestern Medical Foundation, is the oldest award on campus, having first been bestowed in 1943. Ho Din is a Greek acronym representing “the spirit of medical wisdom.” The Ho Din – which includes a certificate, a gold key charm and $7,500 – honors Dr. Edward H. Cary, the first president of Southwestern Medical Foundation. Winners are recognized for exhibiting outstanding knowledge, understanding and compassion.

Dr. George LeBus

The Iatros Award, first presented in 1984, is sponsored by the UT Southwestern Medical School Alumni Association. Its winner is determined by a vote of the graduating medical class.

“We had rehearsal on campus the morning of commencement, and that’s when I was told that I had won both,” said Dr. LeBus, who is known to most on campus as Geof (a blending of George and Franklin, his middle name). “I was very surprised and humbled.

“Winning the Iatros is particularly meaningful to me. I can think of so many of my classmates who are equally as deserving of this award. It’s an incredible honor.”

Dr. Angela Mihalic, associate dean for student affairs, was among those who informed Dr. LeBus of the dual honor. “It is rare to find a student like Geof LeBus who is extraordinarily gifted intellectually, valued and respected for his tireless work ethic by the health care team,” she said, “as well as cherished by his patients for his empathy and compassion.”

“It has been my great pleasure to work directly with Geof as he taught and mentored junior students in the academic colleges and led initiatives to improve both the curriculum and campus life. Geof’s dedication, commitment to excellence in everything he does, and his servant heart have made a lasting mark on UT Southwestern.”

A native of Fort Worth, Dr. LeBus was introduced to medicine at an early age by his mother, a nurse. At Fort Worth Country Day School, where he graduated as valedictorian, he began to explore his interest in science and math. After high school, he was named a Presidential Scholar for the state of Texas and enrolled at Harvard University, where he embarked on an engineering degree. Quickly inspired at Harvard by arts and humanities professors whose life experiences fascinated him, Dr. LeBus departed from all things technical and changed his major to history.

“I always knew in the back of my mind that I would probably pursue medicine, but I found that the Harvard historians simply had too much knowledge for me to pass up,” he said. “The stories they told were amazing – the people they’d met, the places they’d been. I just knew there was more to medicine than science, math and engineering, and I felt like what I learned from these teachers would be invaluable, no matter what path I chose.”

After graduating from Harvard in 2006, Dr. LeBus took a year off to work and study. He used experience gained as a football player at Harvard to coach varsity football at Country Day School while also seizing an opportunity to shadow a Fort Worth orthopaedic surgeon for whom he developed a great respect.

By the time he entered medical school in 2007, his course was set. Dr. LeBus, an avid runner and lifelong athlete, began to lean toward a career in pediatric orthopaedics after a rotation at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.

“I find the field to be very complex and worthwhile,” said Dr. LeBus, who has been elected to the Dallas chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. “I feel happy and stimulated when I have the opportunity to work with kids, and anything I can do to help them is particularly meaningful to me.”

During his time at UT Southwestern – “a complete blast,” he said – Dr. LeBus helped to redesign the incoming medical student orientation, worked as a teaching assistant in the medical center’s anatomy department, and served as co-vice president of the Orthopaedic Student Interest Group. He also organized and administered sports physicals to North Dallas High School students, volunteered at The Monday Clinic, and was a
UT Southwestern Colleges student mentor.

After graduation, Dr. LeBus will relocate to Nashville, Tenn., for an internship and residency in orthopaedic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“In my tenure here at UT Southwestern, I cannot think of a student who more fully embodies the qualities outlined by the Ho Din Award than Geof,” said Dr. Hari Raja, professor of internal medicine and a mentor to Dr. LeBus. “I have worked with Geof throughout his time in medical school and, from day one, found him to be a highly motivated individual who wanted to do the right thing for his patients. His excellent bedside manner, high intelligence, and genuine interest in helping patients shone regardless of what specialty or rotation he was on. Without question, he will represent UT Southwestern very proudly as he moves ahead in his orthopaedic career.”

Lin Lofley contributed to this report