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IU medical alumni association honors distinguished graduates, faculty

Distinguished Alumni Slaughter

Mark S. Slaughter, MD (center), receives the Distinguished Medical Alumni Award from Executive Associate Dean for Educational Affairs Paul M. Wallach, MD (left), and IU School of Medicine Alumni Association President Yung Nguyen, MD (right), during the 72nd Annual Strawberry Shortcake Luncheon on Saturday, May 18

Indianapolis – The Indiana University School of Medicine Alumni Association honored four physicians for outstanding contributions to the field of medicine during its  72nd annual Strawberry Shortcake Luncheon.

The association presented its Distinguished Medical Alumni Award to Mark S. Slaughter, MD, an internationally renowned heart surgeon and chair of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the alumni association.

This year’s other honorees are:

  • Early Career Achievement Award: Jennifer Walthall, MD, MPH, Secretary of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration
  • Glenn W. Irwin Jr., MD, Distinguished Faculty Award: Richard B. Gunderman, MD, PhD, a professor of radiology at IU School of Medicine
  • George W. Sorrells Jr., MD, Community Physician Award: Sumeet Bhatia, MD, president of Community Hospital Oncology Physicians

“These award recipients have all had an extraordinary impact on the field of medicine, and we are proud to recognize them as shining examples of the important work IU School of Medicine alumni conduct regularly in our state, throughout the nation, and around the world,” said Yung Nguyen, MD’95, RES’99, president of the IU School of Medicine Alumni Association. “Their achievements are also meaningful reminders of the power of physicians to improve lives, lessen suffering and advocate for those in need.”

Indiana University School of Medicine educates more medical students annually than any other medical school in the United States and has more than 20,000 living alumni of both its undergraduate and graduate medical education programs.

“Many of our graduates and trainees have gone on to transform health care, whether by pioneering new procedures, developing new therapies or reimagining how we care for some of our most vulnerable patients,” said Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, dean of the School of Medicine and IU’s executive vice president for university clinical affairs. “One of the joys of being dean is the opportunity to shine a bright light on our alumni successes so today’s medical students get a glimpse of what is possible with an IU School of Medicine degree and aspire to follow in the footsteps of our distinguished alumni.”

The awards are presented annually as a part of IU School of Medicine’s annual Medical Alumni Weekend. This year’s luncheon was held on Saturday, May 18 at the Indianapolis Sheraton Hotel at Keystone Crossing.

Learn more about the 2019 honorees:

Distinguished Medical Alumni Award

Mark S. Slaughter, MD ’86, is internationally renowned for his expertise in heart transplantation, especially his work with left ventricular assist devices for patients diagnosed with refractory heart failure. Slaughter, who is chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, was one of the first surgeons to use the device in patients. Additionally, he leads the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Assist Device Program, which investigates new pump designs to support circulation.

Slaughter’s research has garnered more than $23 million in competitive grants, and he has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles. Additionally, he is editor-in-chief for ASAIO Journal, associate editor of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery and a reviewer for the New England Journal of Medicine.

Early Career Achievement Award

Jennifer D. Walthall, MD ’00, MPH ’13, serves as secretary for Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration. Appointed to the position in January 2017, Walthall made it a priority to lower substance abuse and curb the state’s infant mortality rate. Her efforts have included creating programs to quickly funnel patients from in-patient care to addiction programs and another to help steward mothers through pregnancy and their child’s first year of life.

Before moving to the FSSA, Walthall was deputy commissioner for the state’s Department of Health. Additionally, she has served as division chief for pediatric emergency medicine at Riley Hospital for Children and remains an adjunct clinical professor of emergency medicine.

Glenn W. Irwin Jr., MD, Distinguished Faculty Award

Richard B. Gunderman, MD, PhD, a Chancellor’s Professor and the John A. Campbell Professor of Radiology at IU School of Medicine, fuses spirituality and humanism into lectures on radiology, bioethics and the life sciences. Before becoming a physician, Gunderman earned his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago, followed by his medical degree at the university’s Pritzker School of Medicine.

Since arriving at IU School of Medicine, his course offerings have included basic sciences and clinical lectures, but also offerings on religion’s place in the life sciences, leadership in medicine and medical advocacy. He has delivered more than 700 keynote address, authored 13 books and published 700 articles – ranging from peer-reviewed pieces to columns – in various publications.

George W. Sorrells Jr., MD, Community Physician Award

Sumeet Bhatia, MD, has built Community Hospital Oncology Physicians into a thriving practice that employs 11 physicians, 20 nurse practitioners and conducts 100,000 patient visits a year.

Despite its size, his practice strives to make care seamless, whether merging oncology and radiation oncology appointments, implementing a new electronic medical record or streamlining the process for ordering chemotherapy regimens. Additionally, Bhatia forged an affiliation with MD Anderson Cancer Center, which has resulted in an additional 40 certified physicians operating within the Community Health Network.