ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic announces the recipients of its 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award. The award was established in 1981 to acknowledge and show appreciation for exceptional contributions of Mayo Clinic alumni to medicine. This year's honorees include Sir John Hardy, Ph.D.; Nicholas LaRusso, M.D.; David Piepgras, M.D.; Ann Stroink, M.D.; Misael Uribe Esquivel, M.D.; and Zbigniew Wszolek, M.D.
Individuals who have received the award have been recognized nationally and often internationally in their fields. The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the outstanding attributes and accomplishments of individuals who have served at high levels in all aspects of their respective fields.
Sir John Hardy, Ph.D., is chair of Molecular Biology of Neurological Disease at Reta Lila Weston Institute of Neurological Studies at University College London. He is a neurogeneticist in neurodegenerative diseases, particularly in Alzheimer’s disease research. He led the group at Imperial College in London that discovered the first mutation in the amyloid gene that causes Alzheimer’s disease, leading to the amyloid hypothesis for the disease. Dr. Hardy joined the Mayo Clinic staff in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1996 and was instrumental in the growth of Alzheimer’s disease research there. In 2001, he moved to the National Institute for Aging at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), followed by a return to England in 2007 at University College London. Dr. Hardy’s discovery that Alzheimer’s disease could be inherited in an autosomal dominant manner was a seminal event in the understanding of the disease. Dr. Hardy’s many awards include the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences; MetLife Foundation Award for Medical Research in Alzheimer’s Disease; Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick’s, Alzheimer’s, and Related Diseases; and The Brain Prize. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 2009 and knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2022 for services to human health in improving understanding of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases.
Nicholas LaRusso, M.D., is a consultant in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and the Charles H. Weinman Professor. He joined the Mayo Clinic staff in Rochester in 1975 after residency and fellowship training at Mayo. Dr. LaRusso served as president of the American Gastroenterological Association and American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. Dr. LaRusso was the first in the country to isolate a homogenous population of bile duct epithelial cells. His seminal studies and clinical trials on primary sclerosing cholangitis created international awareness for the disease and made Mayo Clinic a leading referral center for the condition. Dr. LaRusso chaired the Mayo Clinic Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and the Department of Internal Medicine, each for nine years. Dr. LaRusso was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation and Association of American Physicians. He received a MERIT Award from the NIH and the Julius Friedenwald Award from the American Gastroenterological Association. Dr. LaRusso has had NIH support for more than 40 years and has more than 700 publications to his credit. He is the former editor of Gastroenterology.
David Piepgras, M.D., is an emeritus professor of neurosurgery in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester. He joined the Mayo Clinic staff in Rochester in 1974 after completing residency at Mayo Clinic. He chaired its Department of Neurologic Surgery for 12 years and is the former John T. and Lillian Mathews Professor of Neuroscience. Dr. Piepgras made significant advances in the management and understanding of unruptured aneurysms and the spectrum of intracranial hypotension and cerebrospinal fluid leaks. He led groundbreaking work on innovative revascularization procedures, decision-making and performance of intracranial and vascular neurosurgery over four decades. His studies and publications on carotid endarterectomy, bypass surgery, and surgery for giant aneurysms and arteriovenous malformation changed the management of cerebrovascular disease. His leadership in the International Study on Unruptured Intracranial Aneurysms led to more conservative management of small aneurysms. Dr. Piepgras was chair of the American Board of Neurological Surgery; Residency Review Committee for Neurological Surgery, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, American Medical Association; and Advisory Council for Neurological Surgery, American College of Surgeons. He received the Founders Laurel from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and a Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Neurological Surgeons.
Ann Stroink, M.D., is system medical director, Neurosciences Quality and Educational Program Development, at Advocate Aurora Healthcare in Bloomington, Illinois. She completed a residency in neurologic surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Dr. Stroink is president of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, only the second woman to serve in that role. She is chair of the Neurosurgery Delegation to the American Medical Association and was appointed to its Council on Legislation. She has chaired the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies and the Washington Committee for Neurosurgery, the group that promotes sound federal public policy in support of neurosurgeons and their patients. Dr. Stroink established a multi-neurosurgeon practice, Central Illinois Neuro Health Sciences, in Bloomington, Illinois, to ensure high quality neurosurgical care in the community where she grew up. She co-founded the Central Illinois Neuroscience Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing neuro health care through education and research.
Misael Uribe Esquivel, M.D., is board chairman of Medica Sur in Mexico City. He completed a fellowship in gastroenterology research at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Dr. Uribe Esquivel is a former president of the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico, representing his colleagues in Mexico and impacting the future of health care delivery in his country. Dr. Uribe Esquivel also was president of the International Medical Association of Mexico, Mexican Association of Hepatology, Association of Members of the National Institute of Nutrition, and Latin American Association of Liver Disease. Dr. Uribe Esquivel served as chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at the National Institute of Nutrition and Medical Sciences in Mexico City. He founded Medica Sur in the spirit of Mayo Clinic values. Under his leadership, Medica Sur has become an international member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. He has promoted the hospital’s stronger collaboration with Mayo Clinic to pursue medical quality and patient experience improvement. Earlier in his career, Dr. Uribe Esquivel focused on the treatment of hepatic encephalopathy, developing national and international treatment guidelines, and patenting therapies for this complication of cirrhosis. Dr. Uribe Esquivel co-founded Annals of Hepatology and serves as co-editor. Dr. Uribe Esquivel has authored more than 400 articles, 187 book chapters and 33 books.
Zbigniew Wszolek, M.D., is a consultant in the Department of Neurology at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and the Haworth Family Professor in Neurodegenerative Diseases. He joined the Mayo Clinic staff in 1998 after a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology at Mayo. Dr. Wszolek has contributed discovery related to the genetic basis of Parkinson’s disease and parkinsonism-related disorders. He has amassed vast clinical information about family pedigrees. Two of the families he studied were the first to demonstrate an abnormality in the LRRK2 gene that resulted in late-onset Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Wszolek’s work demonstrated the variability and pathologic features accompanying the atypical Parkinson’s disease phenotype. The LRRK2 gene is now recognized as the single most common genetic cause of Parkinson’s disease worldwide. Most recently, his work has led to the discovery of the CSF1R-related leukoencephalopathy and a treatment paradigm that can positively affect patient outcomes. Dr. Wszolek has published more than 600 journal articles, reviews, editorials and chapters, and 740 abstracts and letters. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Polish Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgery, and former co-editor-in chief of Parkinsonism and Related Disorders. He is a founding officer of the International Association of Parkinsonism and Related Disorders.
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