Excellence across multiple missions: The 2013 School of Medicine alumni award winners

March 26, 2013
More than 17,000 School of Medicine alumni are located throughout the United States and the world, and taken together, their contributions to the fields of health care and biomedicine are extraordinary.

Every year since 1983, the School of Medicine Alumni Association recognizes a few select alumni who have distinguished themselves in their professions. These individuals are making a difference from bench to bedside, from the classrooms of academic medical centers to the halls of federal government to communities across the globe.

New this year is the Early Career Achievement Award, which honors an individual who has made significant career contributions to improving health and social welfare in a community setting or in the areas of scientific research or academia within 15 years of graduation.

All alumni are invited to help celebrate this year's recipients of the School of Medicine's highest alumni honors as well as the outstanding contributions of volunteer clinical faculty.

Join us at the School of Medicine Alumni Association Awards Banquet on Friday, May 10, at 6 p.m. at the Governor Hotel in Portland. Register here. Questions? Contact sm-alum@ohsu.edu.

Read more about the awards and past winners.



This award is given by the Dean of the School of Medicine in recognition of an individual who has shown commitment to the School of Medicine through their volunteerism, teaching and/or philanthropic support.

2013 Recipient:  Robert Hitzemann, Ph.D.

Read about Dr. Hitzemann here


Established in 2001, this award honors an alumnus/a from the School of Medicine's Masters or Doctorate of Philosophy Degree programs who displays continued research excellence, service to the scientific community and contributions to basic science education.

2013 Recipient: Dennis Ohman, Ph.D. '80

Dr. Ohman received his Ph.D. at OHSU in 1980, working with Dr. Barbara Iglewski. Dr. Ohman was quick to realize the importance of bacterial genetics in studying disease processes and was a leader in using genetic approaches to study bacterial pathogenesis, especially in relation to the opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pseudomonas infections are a serious health problem in the United States, causing infections of high morbidity and mortality in individuals with compromised immune or epithelial barriers.

One of Dr. Ohman's major research focuses is the capsular polysaccharide alginate, which is the primary cause of chronic pulmonary inflammation in cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. Dr. Ohman has made fundamental contributions to understanding the complex regulatory machinery associated with alginate production, and this, along with his other research efforts, has resulted in over 100 peer-reviewed publications and continuous NIH funding for 27 years.

Dr. Ohman is currently the chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine, a position he has held for nearly 15 years. In addition to Dr. Ohman's accomplishments in research and leadership, he has also excelled as an educator and a mentor. Dr. Ohman has graduated 15 Ph.D. students and 18 postdoctoral fellows during his years as an independent investigator. Importantly, an extraordinarily large number of his trainees have become highly successful independent scientists.


Established in 2008, this award honors Esther Pohl Lovejoy, M.D., an 1894 graduate of the School of Medicine who helped establish several international medical organizations. The award honors a School of Medicine alumnus/a who received a degree or is a graduate of a training program who demonstrates exceptional leadership and service to the medical profession on a national or international level.

2013 Recipient: Sonia Buist, M.D. R '70, Ph.D.

Dr. Buist, OHSU professor emerita of medicine, was a fellow in pulmonary medicine at the University of Oregon Medical School (OHSU's precursor) from 1966 to 1969 and was subsequently a fellow in pulmonary physiology at OHSU from 1969 to 1970. Dr. Buist was involved in the early development and standardization of pulmonary function testing. While these tests are now routine and central to the diagnosis and management of lung disease, this was not the case when she initially worked on them. Moreover, she has remained at the forefront of the use of these tests in the diagnosis of

In the mid-1990s, Dr. Buist launched the Methods in Epidemiological, Clinical and Operations Research (MECOR) program. Taught by a highly respected international faculty, this worldwide effort has trained many hundreds of scientists both in pulmonary physiology and in epidemiological methods. This program began in Latin America, but has subsequently expanded to include Africa, Turkey, India and Southeast Asia. Since 1994, more than 300 scientists have learned to do respiratory epidemiology through the course, with many publishing original research in top-tier journals.

Dr. Buist has been a leader in the international lung community and has served in many capacities in the American Thoracic Society, including as president from 1990 to 1991. As a reflection of both her far-reaching influence in the field and the esteem in which she is held by her colleagues, she was awarded the Trudeau Medal by the American Thoracic Society in 2010.


Named in honor of Charles A. Preuss, M.D. '29, this award was established in 1983, and honors any School of Medicine alumnus/a who, in professional achievement and service to their communities, reflect the highest ideals of the School of Medicine.

2013 Recipient: Grover C. Bagby, Jr., M.D. R '76, MACP

Dr. Bagby, OHSU professor of medicine, founded the OHSU Cancer Institute, now named the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and led it to National Cancer Institute designation status before returning in July 2007 to his laboratory research and teaching. He continues to participate actively on the institute's executive committees, serves as associate editor of the journal Blood and as chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, Inc.He has written more than 150 scholarly articles, chapters and books based on his research on the control of blood cell production in health and disease.

A graduate of Pomona College and Baylor College of Medicine, he came to OHSU in 1970 for residency and fellowship, during which time he built a leukemia research laboratory. He has served as chief of hematology/oncology at OHSU and at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and has been a chair or member of a number of advisory committees and national agencies, including the NIH.He was elected president of the International Society for Experimental Hematology in 1999, and in 2003, he was elected as a member of the Association of American Physicians.


Established in 2013, this award recognizes any alumna/us from the OHSU School of Medicine who has made significant career contributions to improving health and social welfare in a community setting or in the areas of scientific research or academia within 15 years of graduation.

2013 Recipient: Phouc T. Tran, M.D. '03, Ph.D. '01

Since graduating with an M.D./Ph.D., Dr. Tran has continued to excel at every level. He did his residency in radiation oncology at Stanford, where he became chief resident. During that period (2004 to 2009), he did postdoctoral research with Dean Felsher, a highly respected researcher working on the MYC oncogene and its role in tumorigenesis. He is now an assistant professor of radiation oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Tran was the recipient of the Radiological Society of North America Roentgen Resident Research Award in 2006. He has also received numerous other awards, including a Uniting Against Lung Cancer Junior Investigator Award and designation as an American Cancer Society Research Scholar, both in 2012.

Dr. Tran has published over 30 peer-reviewed papers so far and has been invited to numerous seminars at prestigious institutions during the last five years. He is principal investigator on two Department of Defense grants and a Patrick C. Walsh Prostate Cancer Research Fund Grant. Dr. Tran is undoubtedly a rising star in the radiation oncology field, both at research and clinical levels.


This award recognizes outstanding contributions by volunteer (clinical) faculty in the School of Medicine.

2013 Nominees:

Gregory Knopf, M.D. '76 (Nominated by Family Medicine), Michael Herson, M.D. (Nominated by Medicine), Harry Glauber, M.D. (Nominated by Medicine), Victoria Warren-Mears, Ph.D., R.D., L.D. (Nominated by Public Health and Preventive Medicine), Mary Ulmer, M.D. (Nominated by Pediatrics), Keith White, M.D. '76 (Nominated by the Physician Assistant Graduate Program) 

Stay tuned for more information on these distinguished members of the School of Medicine community. Also honored at the banquet will be the winners of the Resident and Post-Doctoral Paper Competitions.