HCMS Presents Dr. William Schaffner with Prestigious John P. McGovern Compleat Physician Award
The Harris County Medical Society (HCMS), the professional association for Harris County physicians, and the Houston Academy of Medicine (HAM), the scientific and charitable organization of HCMS physicians, are honoring renowned infectious disease clinician and public health specialist William Schaffner, MD, with the John P. McGovern Compleat Physician Award. The award will be presented to him Friday, Jan. 22, at the HCMS/HAM Installation of Officers & Leadership Recognition at the Petroleum Club of Houston.
The John P. McGovern Compleat Physician Award is a national award presented annually by HAM to recognize a physician who exemplifies the ideals of Sir. William Osler—medical excellence, humane and ethical care, commitment to medical humanities and writing, research, and harmony between the academic and medical practitioner. The award is named after its first recipient, John P. McGovern, MD, who founded the American Osler Society.
Throughout his career, Dr. Schaffner has embodied the Oslerian ideals of excellence, humanness and humility. Dr. Schaffner is an infectious disease clinician and public health specialist at Vanderbilt University. He is a gifted teacher who has inspired and mentored professionals in a variety of health care and public health disciplines. His contributions have spanned the spectrum, ranging from creating new infectious disease science, translating the science into progressive health policy and advocating for the advances with the public. Dr. Schaffner is an inspiration to physicians and everyone who works to advance public health.
The bridging the medical disciplines has been a hallmark of Dr. Schaffner’s career. He chaired Vanderbilt’s Department of Preventative Medicine for over 30 years, was Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases for seven years, was Medical Director of the clinical microbiology laboratory for 11 years, and led Vanderbilt medical center’s infection control program for 35 years. Concurrently, he established a unique, and highly successful collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Health that now is a model for other public health/medical center relationships.
Dr. Schaffner was one of the pioneers in infection control at hospitals, establishing the first major hospital infection control program in Nashville, which has become the standard of excellence. He and his team generously taught infection control personnel in Nashville and Tennessee hospitals, contributing to safer hospital admissions for thousands of patients over the years. When HIV/AIDS was first on the scene in the 1980s, hospitals desperately needed guidance on appropriate infection control practices. Dr. Schaffner co-authored the American Hospital Association’s guidebook, Management of HIV Infection in the Hospital, which became the “bible” of safe practice for health care workers across the country.
As an advocate of childhood vaccinations, he has worked closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor disease threats and be a public educator on disease prevention. For the past 15 years, Dr. Schaffner has been the moderator of the annual press conference that inaugurates the year’s influenza vaccination season. He also has been featured prominently in the news regarding the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Chikungunya infection, enterovirus D68, resurgent measles, and Ebola.
His work has focused on all aspects of infectious diseases, including epidemiology, infection control and immunization. He has received the highest distinctions: the James D. Bruce Award from the American College of Physicians, the Abraham Lillienfeld Award from the American College of Epidemiology, the Ronald Davis Award from the American College of Preventive Medicine, among others. He also has been named a distinguished alumnus of both Weill-Cornell and Vanderbilt Schools of Medicine.
He is a founding member and former president of the Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America. He also is a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Public Health Association.
A legendary teacher and mentor, he has been heard saying that the Latin root of “doctor” is “teacher”. He has received numerous accolades for his teaching at Vanderbilt as well as national recognition, including a mentor award from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and two similar distinctions from the CDC.
As illustrated by his published works, Dr. Schaffner has contributed significantly to the field of infectious disease research, authoring or co-authoring more than 400 published studies, reviews and book chapters. He currently serves on the editorial board of a number of scientific journals, including Journal of Infectious Diseases, Vaccine and the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Dr. Schaffner is one of the country’s most prominent voices of infectious disease and public health through his practice, teaching, research and communication. He continues to be an active teacher and investigator. He has touched the lives of countless students, colleagues and patients. He embodies the remarkable traditions of Sir William Osler and personifies the Compleat Physician.
Past recipients of the John P. McGovern Complete Physician Award are: John P. McGovern, MD, (1993); Raymond Scalettar, MD, (1994); Ernest W. Johnson, MD, (1995); Donald W. Chapman, MD, (1996); Theodore E. Woodward, MD, (1997); Charles D. Sherman, MD, (1998); Michael E. DeBakey, MD, (1999); Victor McKusick, MD, (2000); W. Walter Menninger, MD, (2001); Robert L. DuPont, MD, (2002); Denton A. Cooley, MD, (2003); Jack P. Strong, MD, (2004); John Bilezikian, MD, (2005); Kathleen M. Foley, MD, (2006); Ralph E. Feigin, MD, (2007); Stanley H. Appel, MD, (2008); Richard O’Reilly, MD, (2009); Raymond H. Kaufman, MD, (2010); and Dev GnanaDev, MD, (2011); Richard Wenzel, MD, (2012); Walter Pories, MD, (2013); Samuel Katz, MD (2014); Allen B. Weisse (2015).