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Medical Alumni Society honors five physicians

Awards honor doctors who have made outstanding contributions to their communities

June 2, 2009—The University of Minnesota’s Medical Alumni Society board has chosen five exceptional physicians to receive two of its awards: the Harold S. Diehl Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award. The awards will be formally presented on Friday, Sept. 11, 2009, as part of the Medical School’s Alumni Reunion Weekend.

Harold S. Diehl Award

The Harold S. Diehl Award is the Medical Alumni Society’s most prestigious award for lifetime achievement. It is granted to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the Medical School, the University of Minnesota and the community. It was established in honor of the Medical School’s fifth dean, Harold Sheely Diehl, M.D. This year’s recipients are:

  • Forrest H. Adams, M.D.
    A member of the Medical School Class of 1943, Adams has made several pioneering contributions to the field of pediatric cardiology. His studies on the early diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart disease in infants, fetal heart and lung function and use of lung surfactant to treat premature infant respiratory distress syndrome have improved the lives of countless children. In the five years he spent on the University of Minnesota’s faculty, he helped to develop the Variety Club Children’s Heart Hospital. He later established a division of pediatric cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he also oversaw the design and implementation of a new medical curriculum.

  • Roby C. Thompson Jr., M.D.
    Described as a superior administrator and careful listener, Thompson led the University of Minnesota’s clinical faculty to form a unified faculty practice plan known as University of Minnesota Physicians (UMPhysicians), where he currently serves as CEO. He was a key player in establishing the partnership between UMPhysicians, the University’s hospitals and Fairview Health Services. Additionally, in the 21 years Thompson spent as head of the Medical School’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, the department became the top-ranked public institution in funding for orthopaedic surgery research and training, and its residency program became the national leader in training female orthopaedic surgeons. He’s now vice dean for clinical affairs for the Medical School.

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes University of Minnesota Medical School alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their local, regional or national community through medical practice, teaching, research or other humanitarian activities. This year, three physicians will receive this honor:

  • Louis J. Ling, M.D.
    A 1980 graduate of the Medical School, Ling has led several national emergency medicine organizations. He also started the journal Academic Emergency Medicine, which is now the second-largest journal in the specialty. Ling has been an emergency medicine physician at Hennepin County Medical Center for the past 25 years, serving as associate medical director for medical education there since 1992. He also was medical director for the Hennepin Regional Poison Center, covering Minnesota and the Dakotas, until 2004. Described as a man of high moral standards and integrity, Ling is associate dean for graduate medical education at the Medical School.

  • Patricia B. Wolff, M.D.
    A member of the Class of 1972, Wolff founded in 2004 the nonprofit Meds and Food for Kids, which supplies a nutrition supplement rich in protein, vitamins and minerals to malnourished children in Haiti. Wolff, who has been a clinical faculty member in pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine for 32 years, now splits her time equally between Haiti and her group practice in St. Louis. Known by colleagues for her compassion and tireless work ethic, Wolff also has been named to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Doctors in America” list in eight of the past 12 years.

  • James O. Woolliscroft, M.D.
    A 1976 graduate of the Medical School, Woolliscroft now serves as dean of the University of Michigan Medical School, one of the country’s top 10 medical schools. His research has been aimed at improving medical education through developing standardized and systematic ways to assess clinical competence, finding better ways to operationalize medical cognition and solve problems and translating these advances into clinical practice. Despite his many administrative demands, Woolliscroft remains an active general internist and enjoys mentoring young researchers. Described as an altruistic and visionary leader, he also has become a strong voice for global health and disease prevention.

The Medical Alumni Society (MAS) serves as a link between the University of Minnesota Medical School and its alumni. MAS provides valuable support to current medical students and medical school alumni throughout the year. MAS has been staffed by the Minnesota Medical Foundation since 1986 and is a constituent of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.


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