• By Kelley Luckstein

Mayo Clinic announces 2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards

October 22, 2019
statues of Drs. Will and Charlie Mayo outside the entrance to the Mayo Clinic Gonda building

ROCHESTER, Minn. — The recipients of the Mayo Clinic Distinguished Alumni Award have been named:

  • S. Ann Colbourne, M.D.
  • Timothy O'Brien, M.D.; Ph.D.
  • Franklyn Prendergast, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Patricia Simmons, M.D.
  • Joseph Szurszewski, Ph.D.
  • Enrique Wolpert, M.D.

The award was established in 1981 to acknowledge and show appreciation for exceptional contributions of Mayo Clinic alumni to the field of medicine.

People who have received the award have been recognized nationally and often internationally in their fields. The Mayo Clinic Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize the outstanding attributes and accomplishments of people who have served at high levels in all aspects of their respective fields.

Learn more about each recipient below:

S. Ann Colborne, M.D.
Dr. Colborne is clinical professor emeritus of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. She recently retired as chair of the board of governors of NorQuest College in Alberta.

Dr. Colbourne was a visionary health executive for Alberta Health Services where she was senior medical director of Culture, Transformation and Innovation, and led systems-level transformation in the Alberta health system in clinical, operational and medical partnerships.

Dr. Colbourne has been an ambassador for Mayo Clinic, the Mayo Clinic Model of Care and Mayo Clinic training throughout Canada. Her legacy has been an effort to shift a culture of care to patient-centric collaboration — attempting to inculcate the Mayo Clinic value that the needs of the patient come first into Canadian health care.

She completed a fellowship in advanced general internal medicine and a residency in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education in Rochester.

Timothy O'Brien, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. O'Brien is an internationally recognized clinician-scientist with expertise in regenerative medicine applied to the treatment of diabetes complications. He has influenced a generation of Irish clinicians and scientists. His ties to Mayo Clinic allow trainees from Ireland to spend time at Mayo Clinic and for Mayo faculty to spend time in Galway, Ireland, ensuring that the Mayo Clinic ethos is evident on the wards, and in the clinics and laboratories, in Ireland.

Dr. O'Brien is a professor of medicine; dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; and director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute at National University of Ireland, Galway. He also is lead endocrinologist at Saolta University Health Care Group and co-director of CURAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices at Science Foundation Ireland.

Dr. O'Brien was an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester and an associate professor of medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship as a Mayo Clinic scholar at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, and a fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism at Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education in Rochester.

Franklyn Prendergast, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Prendergast is an emeritus professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and pharmacology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. He held major leadership roles inside and outside of Mayo Clinic, beginning in the early 1980s and continuing until his retirement in 2014. He served in the departments of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and as chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Dr. Prendergast was a professor in biochemistry and molecular biology, a professor in molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, director for Research, a member of the Mayo Clinic Board of Governors and Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees, and director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. He also was the Edmond and Marion Guggenheim Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mayo Clinic and a Mayo Clinic Distinguished Investigator. Dr. Prendergast completed a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Rochester and an internal medicine residency at Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education.

Patricia Simmons, M.D.
Dr. Simmons is emeritus professor of pediatrics at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. She exemplified excellence and service in practice, research, education and administration at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Simmons rose to the rank of professor of pediatrics in Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Until her retirement in 2014, she was a physician in the Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, and had a joint appointment in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Simmons was the founding chair of the Mayo Clinic Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, a member of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Alumni Center, chair of the board of Mayo Medical Ventures, and executive medical director for Health Policy and Government Relations at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Simmons completed a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology and residency in pediatrics at Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education in Rochester.

Joseph Szurszewski, Ph.D.
Dr. Szurszewski is emeritus professor of physiology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. He has contributed to research and education in physiology and medicine, and made long-standing, consistent efforts to mentor the next generation of scientists, clinicians and world-class leaders. Since 1972, 54 postdoctoral research fellows from around the world received research training in Dr. Szurszewski's laboratory at Mayo Clinic. His commitment to Mayo Clinic and his field kept physiology and clinically relevant biomedical research alive and available for generations to come.

Dr. Szurszewski was a member of Mayo's Department of Physiology in 1971, where he remained until retirement in 2014. He chaired the Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering and was the Bernard C. Pollack Professor of Research. Dr. Szurszewski helped establish and lead Mayo Clinic's Enteric Neurosciences Program, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This program has helped launch the careers of many leaders in gastroenerology. Dr. Szurszewski completed an NIH research fellowship in physiology and biophysics at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Rochester.

Enrique Wolpert, M.D.
Dr. Wolpert is medical director of the ABC Medical Center in Mexico City and a member of the medical center's Executive Committee. He is chair of the Scientific Committee of the Mexican Liver Foundation; a member of the governing board of the General Hospital in Mexico City; a consultant in gastroenterology at Clinica Lomas Altas in Mexico City; and a faculty member of the National University of Mexico.

Dr. Wolpert is recognized as an international leader in medicine, an expert in the treatment and management of hepatitis C, and a force in public health. He has held prestigious positions in the government of Mexico, including undersecretary of health and general coordinator of NIH. Dr. Wolpert completed a gastroenterology fellowship at Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education in Rochester.

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