A. Eugene Washington, MD, Chancellor for Health Affairs, and President and Chief Executive Officer for Duke University Health System, received the prestigious University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medal in a ceremony held last week in California.
Granted in lieu of honorary degrees, the UCSF Medal is the institution's highest honor. The Medal is awarded to individuals who have attained preeminence in fields associated with the university and its missions: education, research, health care, and local and global community service. Previous winners include Rosalynn Carter, Melinda Gates, Dolores Huerta, Drs. Andrew Grove, Robert Langer, Shirley Tilghman and Mamphela Ramphele, and UCSF Nobel laureates Michael Bishop, Elizabeth Blackburn, Stanley Prusiner, and Harold Varmus.
Washington, an internationally renowned clinical investigator, health policy scholar, and executive-level leader, was honored for his dedication to improving health care. He has been a national leader in assessing medical technologies, developing clinical practice guidelines and establishing disease prevention policies, particularly for women's health. He has published extensively in his major areas of research, which include prenatal genetic testing, cervical cancer screening and prevention, noncancerous uterine conditions management, reproductive tract infections, quality of health care and racial/ethnic disparities in health outcomes.
During the ceremony, Washington was lauded for having developed a deep appreciation for the role academic health systems play in communities at large. And for striving, in each of his leadership posts, to achieve impact on a broader scale by envisioning institutions as cohesive wholes working toward a greater good.
In presenting the Medal to Washington, UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood remarked that "Gene has been a mentor and role model for me throughout my career, showing me by example how effective leadership, humility and integrity go hand in hand. More than anyone I know, Gene has the natural ability to bring people together and to work on projects for the common good."
Washington graduated from the UCSF School of Medicine in 1976. After returning to UCSF in 1989, he ascended through the university's academic ranks and held multiple leadership roles before becoming UCSF's first Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. As Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Washington was instrumental in shepherding the first-ever University-wide strategic plan and leading the implementation of a 10-point diversity initiative. He won many honors and awards at UCSF, including the School of Medicine Alumnus of the Year and the UCSF's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, recognizing his extraordinary efforts to promote diversity.
"Tonight I am deeply honored to be recognized by my UCSF colleagues with this Medal," Washington said in his remarks. "It celebrates a body of work deemed worthy of UCSF's highest honor. And importantly, it serves as a symbol of the unwavering commitment to excellence and impact by a diverse group of exceptional individuals with whom I have had the extraordinary privilege to work over the past four decades. To all of you, I express my heartfelt gratitude for the pivotal role you have played in my life."