Ho Din Award winners: Where are they now?
Looking back at 80 years of excellence for recipients of the Medical School’s top graduate award
For the past 80 years, the Ho Din Award has been bestowed on UT Southwestern Medical School graduates or members of faculty who exemplify the ideals of medicine. Winners have gone on to teach at Harvard, lead major hospitals, make research breakthroughs, and earn prestigious awards in medicine – including the Nobel Prize. One beloved graduate even had a statue erected in his honor.
Michael McMahan, President and CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation, holds deep respect for Ho Din awardees. “Students who are truly extraordinary – who manifest the best of what it means to be a caregiver and healer – are the ones chosen to receive this award,” he explained. “It makes perfect sense that many of them go on to lead illustrious professional lives.”
The community and campus leaders who established what initially was called Southwestern Medical College in 1943 passed a resolution committing the school to awarding the Ho Din each year to one or two graduating students who best exemplified the medical wisdom and human understanding of a great physician, along with occasional honorary awards given to faculty and administrators.
Since then, 92 rising physicians from graduating classes and 15 of the faculty who either helped found UT Southwestern or later provided leadership have been recognized with the Ho Din Award, which comes with a medal and certificate. Students also receive a scholarship with the award.
Among the honorary winners are Charles Cameron Sprague, M.D., UT Southwestern’s first President, and Donald W. Seldin, M.D., Chair of Internal Medicine from 1952 through 1988.
As for the student winners, many went on to top-ranked medical institutions for their residencies or fellowships. Two recent graduates (Priyanka Gaur, M.D., M.P.H., and Natasha Houshmand, M.D., from 2020 and 2021, respectively) headed to residencies at Johns Hopkins Medicine, while a third, Cayenne Price, M.D., 2022, decided to remain UT Southwestern. “I knew the caliber of training here would make me an exceptionally skilled, well-rounded anesthesiologist and provide me with unique experiences that I wouldn’t have elsewhere,” said Dr. Price.
Following their training, many Ho Din winners choose to spend at least part of their careers in academia, teaching future doctors. About 25 past Ho Din student winners either returned to UT Southwestern or gravitated to other top teaching hospitals, determined to leave their mark on the future of medicine.
One, Patricia Ashley, M.D. (Class of 1991), became an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine. Another, George N. Papaliodis, M.D. (1995), is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.
“When I won the Ho Din Award in 1995, I felt incredibly honored and humbled to receive this distinction. Graduating with this award from a world-respected institution opened doors and training programs that would have previously been unattainable,” said Dr. Papaliodis, now Director of the Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Service at Harvard.
Physicians who opt for academic medicine often do so because of the intellectual stimulation and desire to form future physicians as well as the additional opportunities of conducting research, many past Ho Din Award recipients say.
James B. Cutrell, M.D. (2007), now Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program at UT Southwestern, helped lead the charge to find treatments against COVID-19 after the pandemic struck in 2020 – an effort he probably would not have been part of in a private practice.
“Receiving the Ho Din Award was and still remains one of the highlights of my medical career,” Dr. Cutrell said. “To be mentioned among such an esteemed group of UTSW Medical School graduates is humbling and truly a privilege. Now, I am able to give back to the institution by serving as a member of the teaching faculty, which is a way to ‘pay forward’ the wisdom gained and rich clinical and academic experiences to those I get to train.”
Dr. James Cutrell, 2007 Ho Din Award Winner
Another Ho Din winner, Barbara Elizabeth Murray, M.D. (1973), Professor and Infectious Disease Researcher at UTHealth Houston McGovern Medical School, became recognized for her expertise in antibiotic resistance.
Perhaps the most famous Ho Din winner of all is Joseph Goldstein, M.D. (1966), who made international headlines when he shared the 1985 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the discovery by him and his research partner, Michael Brown, M.D., of the low-density lipoprotein receptor and their work on how these receptors control human cholesterol levels. This line of research laid the groundwork for the later finding on statin drugs as a treatment for high cholesterol and heart disease. Dr. Goldstein is now Chair of the Molecular Genetics Department at UT Southwestern, where Dr. Brown is a Professor of Molecular Genetics and Internal Medicine.
“When I received the Ho Din Award, I was just a young medical student,” Dr. Goldstein said. “Now, 57 years later, I guess I am sort of a role model for the younger generation of medical students.”
Two other Ho Din winners also received national and international attention – but for a tragedy. George Thomas Shires, M.D. (1948), and Charles James Carrico, M.D. (1961), were both surgeons at Parkland Memorial Hospital on the November day in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was rushed there after being shot while riding in a motorcade in downtown Dallas.
Dr. Carrico was the first doctor to tend to the stricken President. Dr. Shires, then Parkland’s Chief of Surgical Services, flew in from a meeting in Galveston to attend to the President. It was Dr. Shires who later announced that President Kennedy was dead on arrival at the hospital.
Despite this traumatic event, both men went on to major accomplishments in medicine. Dr. Carrico became Chief of Surgery or Chairman of Surgery at various teaching hospitals and was Chairman of the American Board of Surgery and a former President of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma. Dr. Shires was Dean of the medical college at Cornell University and Surgeon in Chief at New York Hospital. He helped establish major burn centers in Seattle and New York, and his research led to the treatment advancement of giving saline solution to surgical and trauma patients.
Another from the academic medicine side, George Ellison Hurt Jr., M.D. (1957), founded a urology clinic for spina bifida patients and served as President of the National Society for Pediatric Urology as well as being a former Associate Professor at UT Southwestern.
Many Ho Din winners who bypassed academic medicine still left their mark – becoming leaders at institutions where they practiced in their communities. Among them are Sherman Tipton Coleman, M.D. (1951), who was Chief of Surgery at a hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, as well as President of the Corpus Christi Surgical Society.
For such local efforts, some Ho Din winners were clearly beloved by their communities. Billy Paul Kincaid, M.D. (1959), received a Hippocratic Award from the local medical society for Lubbock/Crosby/Garza counties. Mary Alice Bone (Adamson), M.D. (1955), the first female Ho Din winner, is well known in the community of Jacksonville, where she was born and practiced for many years. She retired from volunteering at a clinic in nearby Ballard when she was 90. She had earlier worked with a clinic affiliated with the Jacksonville, Texas, hospital where her father, then a doctor in town, delivered her as a newborn. A Ho Din winner who followed her, Ruby Elizabeth Andrews Kassanoff, M.D. (1996), recently served as President of the Dallas County Medical Society.
But Kent Eugene Rogers, M.D. (1971), may be the best example of such local love. Dr. Rogers served as Chief of Staff of a hospital in Navarro County, Texas, and Medical Director of the Corsicana/Navarro County Health Department. He also was a member of the school board and team physician for the Corsicana High School Tigers.
In 2019, two years before his death, the town erected a bronze statue in his honor downtown Corsicana.
“For eighty years, the Ho Din Award has inspired students to lead with compassion and serve their community with deep purpose,” Mr. McMahan said. “The ideal this award represents showcase the qualities of students and faculty UT Southwestern produces in service to communities across our state.”