AΩA 64th Annual Banquet and Induction Ceremony
On the cusp of graduation from medical school, advice to student inductees into the Annual Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society (AΩA) at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was simple: Follow a path that aligns with your mission and passion.
The 64th Annual AΩA Awards and Induction Banquet, held on May 16 and organized by Angelike Liappis, MD ’96, FIDSA, associate professor of medicine at SMHS, is a celebration of the year’s newest AΩA members. This year, 28 members of the SMHS Class of 2019 were honored, alongside an alumnus, three faculty members, four residents, and a voluntary clinical faculty member.
Induction into AΩA is based on academic potential, leadership qualities, professionalism and firm sense of ethics, promise of future success in medicine, and commitment to service in the school and community.
The first GW class inducted was in 1954 and the first banquet was held in 1955, Alan Wasserman, MD, Eugene Meyer Professor of Medicine, chair of the Department of Medicine at SMHS, and councilor of the GW Alpha Chapter of AΩA, said at the start of the event. “We’re continuing a really long and wonderful tradition, and to have it around graduation weekend is a special thing,” he added.
Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, vice president for health affairs at GW, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, and dean of SMHS, also spoke at the start of the evening, congratulating the students, residents, faculty, and alumni inductees.
“It really is a tremendously accomplished group,” he said. “To the students who receive this honor, you worked really hard to get here and congrats … we’re really proud of what you’ve accomplished. To our residents, thank you for your hard work, your great teaching, your scholarship, for everything that you do to make us a better medical center. [A]nd to our faculty … they’re scholars, they’re amazing educators, they’re amazing clinicians, and they’re amazing at the service they provide.”
The featured speaker at the event was Mona Siddiqui, MD, RESD ’08, chief data officer for the Immediate Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
At the banquet, Siddiqui described her unusual and winding path leading to her current role. A route that took her from Johns Hopkins Medical School to SMHS to the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team to HHS, with many stops in between.
“My journey is about not knowing at all the path I wanted to take,” said Siddiqui. “When I was in undergrad I had a 20-year plan, and I have not followed a single piece of that. During medical school and residency, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I felt an immense amount of pressure to lay out that pathway.”
But through medical school, residency, various fellowships, and jobs within the government, Siddiqui slowly found her direction by taking risks and figuring out what was most important to her.
“All of us experience moments in our professional careers when we’re going to be evaluating what it is that we want to do,” she said. “We’ll at some point have to take stock of how our career fits in with our life and our mission and whether the journey we’re on and the path we’re on is the right path.”
Find a place where the mission is aligned with what you want to do, she told the soon-to-be graduates.
Siddiqui also gave the AΩA visiting professor lecture earlier in the day, focusing on her work at HHS and how government and private entities can use data and technology to move health care forward.
She said her goal and the question she tries to answer is: How can the federal government be more effective in the way it runs its programs?
She spoke about various initiatives that blend the power of data with the need to innovate and improve health care. One project, the Kidney X Innovation Accelerator, seeks to use the government to spur innovation in the area of dialysis. Siddiqui also helped to put together a code-a-thon on connecting data on opioid use. The all-night event in the HHS building included 70 datasets across the cabinet department, more than 12 private partners, and upward of 45 teams using data to find ways for treatment, prevention of abuse, and understanding of opioid usage.
Following Siddiqui’s remarks at the banquet, Wasserman introduced the alumna inductee, Gail Rosseau, MD ’85, RESD ’91, liaison to the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies at the World Health Organization (WHO) and clinical professor of neurological surgery at SMHS.
In accepting her honor, just hours before she was set to fly to Geneva, Switzerland, for a WHO meeting, Rosseau echoed Siddiqui’s remarks about following a path that is true to who you are.
She said there were two things she considered when going into her residency that she knew would not mesh with a career in the field: a love of travel and a love of the French language.
“But here I am, doing what I think is the best that I can to the neurosurgery world by traveling to Geneva so I can advocate on behalf of [my profession] and where many of the conversations will be in French,” she said. “The things that are important to you, that make you who you are, are things that will allow you to contribute mightily to your profession, to your patients, and to the world.”
The 2019 AΩA Alpha Chapter Voluntary Clinical Faculty Award was received by Randi Abramson, MD, RESD ’91, chief medical officer of Bread for the City and associate clinical professor of medicine at SMHS.
Abramson said she was just out of residency and looking for her next step when she chose to do a fellowship in primary care at GW and tagged along with residents to a “little free clinic in the basement of a townhouse on the corner of 14th and M streets.” That clinic was Bread for the City.
“They asked me to make a two-year commitment to Bread for the City and I said ‘Oh, no. Four years in undergrad, four in medical school, residency, fellowship … two years was too long of a commitment for me to make to anything.’ And so, I’m still there today.”
You never know where you’ll end up, she told attendees.
Wasserman also introduced the three faculty inductees, who were chosen by the students. They included Vittorio Gallo, PhD, chief research officer at Children’s National Health System (Children’s National), associate dean for child health research, and professor of pediatrics, and pharmacology and physiology at SMHS; Laura Tosi, MD, director of the Bone Health Program at Children’s National and associate professor of orthopedic surgery and pediatrics at SMHS; and Cynthia Tracy, MD, director of cardiovascular services at the GW Hospital, associate chief of the Division of Cardiology at the GW Medical Faculty Associates, and professor of medicine at SMHS.
In addition, a special honor, the AΩA Administrative Recognition Award, was given to LaQuita Ross, executive coordinator for curricular affairs, for her dedication to the support of the chapter over the last seven years.
At the night’s end, Wasserman thanked parents, family, and friends for coming out to support the students, residents, and faculty members.
2019 AΩA Inductees and Awardees
Campbell Grant, MD
Chief Resident, Department of Urology
Cheralyn Hendrix, MD
Resident, Department of Surgery
Evan Kuhl, MD
Resident, Department of Emergency Medicine
Gregor Werba, MD
Chief Resident, Department of Surgery
Vittorio Gallo, PhD
Chief Research Officer, Children’s National Health System
Associate Dean for Child Health Research
Professor of Pediatrics, and Pharmacology and Physiology, SMHS
Laura Tosi, MD
Director, Bone Health Program, Children’s National Health System
Associate Professor Orthopedic Surgery and Pediatrics, SMHS
Cynthia Tracy, MD
Director Cardiovascular Services, GW Hospital
Associate Chief of the Division of Cardiology, Medical Faculty Associates
Professor of Medicine, SMHS
Gail Rosseau, MD ’85, RESD ’91
World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies Liaison, World Health Organization
Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, SMHS
Voluntary Clinical Faculty Award
Randi Abramson, MD
Chief Medical Officer, Bread for the City, Washington, D.C.
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, SMHS
AΩA Student Class of 2019
Danielle Kathryn Fahoome
Thomas Jefferson University, Pennsylvania
Erin Frances Flynn
Children’s Hospital, Philadelphia
Jacob Troy Gibby
Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina
Adam Brandon Greenfest
New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York
University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Ohio
Icahn School of Medicine St Lukes-Roosevelt, New York
Baylor College of Medicine, Texas
Matthew John Kinnard
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, District of Columbia
Annika Marie Koppen
University of North Carolina Hospitals
National Institutes of Health, District of Columbia
Medical Research Scholars Program
Max Griffin Mandelbaum
Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
Johns Hopkins University, Maryland
Kyle Mele McGaw
Medical Center of Northwestern University, Illinois
University Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas
Hannah Noel Robinson
Madigan Army Medical Center
Samuel Arthur Swenson
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Janelle Victoria Thomas
Johns Hopkins Hospital, Maryland
New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York