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AAMC Honors Howard’s Donald E. Wilson with Its Highest Award

Office of University Communications

Ron Harris
Director of Communications

WASHINGTON (Nov. 3) – Howard University Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Donald E. Wilson, M.D., M.A.C.P., whose storied 30-year medical career includes his appointment as the first African-American dean of a predominately white medical school, has received yet ano ther honor – this time the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) most prestigious award.

Dr. Wilson, who came to Howard last year to help transform its three health science colleges and the historic Howard University Hospital, named recently the 2008 recipient of the Abraham Flexner Award for distinguished service to medical education.

As dean for 15 years of the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, Dr. Wilson was key to Maryland’s emergence as a leading national research institution.

“The school underwent a veritable transformation to become a true educational and research powerhouse,” AAMC President Emeritus Jordan J. Cohen, M.D., said of Dr. Wilson’s tenure, which ended with his retirement in 2006.

Under his leadership, research grants quadrupled, and the construction of two biomedical research buildings streng thened the school’s research capacity as it tackled such pressing health issues as HIV/AIDS and schizophrenia.

Additionally, Dr. Wilson, Maryland’s first vice president for medical affairs, guided the school through curriculum reform, generating greater awareness of problem-based learning and better integration of basic and clinical education. He early on adopted new technology, requiring all first-year medical students to have laptops and making informatics part of their first-year curriculum.

Dr. Wilson, who following his retirement as dean also served as the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor at Maryland and director of the medical school’s program in Minority Health and Health Disparities Education and Research, continues his decades of guidance of academic medicine at Howard.

“What we’re trying to do is get the hospital and the school to be seen as institutes of excellence,” said Dr. Wilson, who peer-reviews Internal Medicine training programs for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. “When people need medical care, I want them to say, ‘I want to go to Howard.’

“I’d like the colleges of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, nursing and allied health to be seen as top tier schools in the country in terms of instruction and research. There are a lot of changes that need to occur to have people buy into that position, but it’s been very rewarding working on that vision.”

Dr. Wilson has more than proven his abilities in that regard. Prior to going to Maryland, he chaired the department of medicine at the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, College of Medicine in Brooklyn.

As a member of the AAMC Council of Deans, and later as its chair, Dr. Wilson helped improve the nation’s medical schools. In 2003, Dr. Wilson was chair of the AAMC Executive Council and today serves on the Health Care Advisory Panel.

Dr. Wilson, who earlier this year received an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, Tufts University, has received numerous honors over his extraordinary career. In 2000, for example, he was recipient of the AAMC’s first Herbert W. Nickens Award for justice and diversity in medicine.

Still, he says, this one holds a special place among his many honors.

“This is their most prestigious award,” said Dr. Wilson, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine. “So, it’s extra special.”

Also receiving other awards from the AAMC are the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Vivian W. Pinn, M.D.; Yolanda Wimberly, M.D.; Max D. Cooper, M.D.; Steven A. Schroeder, M.D.; Daniel W. Foster, M.D.; David W. Nierenberg, M.D.; Peter G. Anderson, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Paul L. Rogers, M.D.

The AAMC represents all 130 accredited allopathic U.S. medical schools, 17 accredited Canadian medical schools, nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems and 94 academic and scientific societies. It represents 109,000 faculty members, 67,000 medical students and 104,000 resident physicians.

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