Alumni Association Award Winners
2023 Alumni Association Award Recipients
Congratulations to the recipients of the 2023 Alumni Association Awards. They were honored at a ceremony on May 21.
Boots Cooper, MD, Service Award – Kela Henry, MD, MCPHU ’99
Kela Henry, MD, MCPHU ’99, is a respected primary care physician at Emory Gwinnett Family
Physicians in Suwanee, Georgia. She is a member of the American Academy of
Family Practice and the National Medical Association. Henry graduated medical
school from the Medical College of Pennsylvania-Hahnemann University
in 1999 prior to returning to her home state of Georgia and completing her
residency program at Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. She received her
bachelor’s degree from Spelman College, one of the country’s leading HBCUs.
While in medical school, she earned two prestigious awards: the Keystone State
Medical Society Award; and the Outstanding Young Women of America Award,
honoring young women between the ages of 21 and 35 who give their time and
efforts to the betterment of community, country and profession.
Henry is the recipient of the 2019 National Association of Black Journalists
Award for Excellence for her groundbreaking book, “NIA & THE NUMBERS
GAME, A Teenager’s Guide to Education, Relationships & Sex.” Henry is
passionate about the health and empowerment of adolescent girls, and in
2019, began speaking live on social media to help address challenging times
for teens and parents. Now in its fifth year, Let’s Talk Teens with Dr. Kela is
being developed into a series. Her mission is to motivate teenage girls to own
their education, make strong decisions about their lives and future and find
the resources they need to have the life they dream of living, no matter their
circumstances. In January 2023, BMG Rights Management invited Henry to
create a presentation for their global diversity, equity and inclusion conference
and ongoing initiatives. Henry is proud to be the 2023 recipient of the Boots
Cooper, MD, Award for Community Service from Drexel University College
of Medicine. More information can be found about her on her website at
Emerging Leader Award – Austin Williams, MD ’13
Austin Williams, MD ’13, is a breast surgical oncologist and assistant professor in the
Department of Surgical Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he also runs
a high-risk clinic in the Department of Clinical Genetics.
He graduated with honors from Franklin & Marshall College with a degree in
biochemistry and molecular biology. Prior to matriculating at Drexel, he taught
high school chemistry as a Teach for America Corps Member, earned a master’s
in education from the University of Pennsylvania and was recognized with the
Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished High School Educators. After
earning his medical degree and the Dean’s Award for Medical Humanities from
Drexel, he completed his general surgery residency at Lankenau Medical Center
where he was named the Engel Intern of the Year, was recognized with several
awards for his teaching and research, and served as administrative chief resident.
Williams then completed a fellowship in breast surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan
Kettering Cancer Center, a premier training program for surgeons specializing in
breast cancer care, where he was recognized as the Kroll Family Fellow.
During residency, Williams completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the
University of Pennsylvania, where he focused on breast cancer immunotherapy.
His research has been recognized with major awards from the American College
of Surgeons and the American Society of Breast Surgeons. His ongoing research
interests include assessing the response of breast cancer to neoadjuvant therapies
and disparities in cancer care. Williams has published over 40 peer-reviewed
papers, presented nearly 60 conference abstracts, and served as primary editor of
a case-based surgical textbook.
Williams holds many local and national leadership roles and serves as a site
reviewer for the National Accreditation Program of Breast Centers. He was also
recently named a Top Physician Under 40 by the Pennsylvania Medical Society.
Graduate Citation Award – Early Career or Young Investigator – Brielle Ferguson, PhD ’18
Brielle Ferguson, PhD ’18, completed her PhD training at Drexel University College
of Medicine followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford. Her research
has focused on the role of inhibitory neurons in various types of cognition.
Currently, she is an assistant professor of genetics and neurology at Boston
Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Her lab opened recently and
will work toward better understanding mechanisms of cognitive dysfunction in
Outside of the lab, she co-founded and serves as director of programs for Black
In Neuro, an organization that seeks to provide resources, increase visibility and
build community for Black scholars in neuro-related fields.
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Recognition Award – Jeffrey Nau, PhD; MS Medical Science ’02
Jeffrey Nau, PhD; MS Medical Science ’02, serves as president of the Eye Care Division at Viatris Inc. (NASDAQ:
VTRS), a global health care company that develops, manufactures and markets a range
of pharmaceutical products. Nau has global responsibility for the Eye Care Division,
overseeing strategic and financial operations in addition to product innovation.
He was previously CEO of Oyster Point Pharma (NASDAQ: OYST), where he led
the company through its initial public offering in 2019, executed multiple value-generating
business development deals and global partnerships. In addition, Nau
raised more than $300 million in capital, before overseeing the company’s acquisition
by Viatris Inc. in 2023.
Under his leadership, Oyster Point launched TYRVAYA®, the first and only FDA-approved
nasal spray for the treatment of the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease and
expanded Oyster Point’s pipeline to include an investigational Enriched Tear
Film (ETF™) gene therapy program with the potential to fundamentally change
the way that chronic diseases of the ocular surface are treated.
Nau is not new to developing medical breakthroughs. Before joining Viatris,
he held leadership positions across several pharmaceutical, medical device and
biotechnology companies, including Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche, where
he served as a key stakeholder on the development and launch of multiple
indications for Lucentis®, one of the biggest medical breakthroughs in the history
of treating blindness. The therapy changed the treatment approach for millions
of patients and generated more than $1 billion in annual sales.
Nau has a PhD in public health and epidemiology from Walden University, a
master of medical science from MCP-Hahnemann University
and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Stony Brook University. He holds
numerous patents and is an author on many peer-reviewed publications.
HU Distinguished Graduate Award – Craig Bradford Langman, MD, HMC ’77
Craig Bradford Langman, MD, HMC ’77, was introduced to pediatric nephrology while at Hahnemann
by Dr. Bonita E. Falkner through the study of hypertension in Black adolescents.
She excited him about the possibilities in the field of pediatric nephrology, and
this excitement led him to pursue the specialty while in residence at the
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia upon graduation from Hahnemann.
Langman’s fellowship allowed him to become an expert in genetic diseases of
the kidney, which has been the mainstay of his career in the discipline. He has
been able to introduce new drugs for cystinosis and for primary hyperoxaluria, as
well as helping children with osteogenesis imperfecta, as he also has a focus on bone
diseases of children. Langman has created pathways to stop kidney
stones and excess urinary calcium in children, and they have been
adapted worldwide with success.
In short, Hahnemann gave him the opportunity to explore diverse issues for
children with kidney diseases and improve their lot in life. Lastly, Langman also
created pediatric DaVita with a colleague as the only company caring for children
with chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis. All of this was due to the professors he met and collaborated with at Hahnemann,
for which he will be forever grateful.
WMC Distinguished Graduate Award – Antoinette C. Ripepi, MD, WMC ’61; JD
After high school, Antoinette C. Ripepi, MD, WMC ’61; JD, worked in the lab of the local hospital and
developed an interest in medicine. She became a fully certified medical technician by
attending Montefiore School of Technology in Pittsburgh. After taking pre-med courses at
University of Pittsburgh, she applied to medical schools in Pennsylvania. She was rejected
by Jefferson because “only men were accepted.” Woman’s Medical College quickly accepted
her and awarded her a four-year full tuition scholarship. On graduation morning in 1961,
she learned that she was valedictorian, summa cum laude.
Jefferson had become coed, and Ripepi's four-year surgery residency was at Jefferson, where
John Gibbon, MD, was chief. He is credited with inventing the heart-lung bypass machine, and open-heart surgery became possible. Heart surgery was a big issue those years and Ripepi
was inspired to be a cardiac surgeon.
In the 1960s, Baylor College and Michael E. DeBakey, MD, were world famous for heart and vascular
surgery, so that was where Ripepi wanted to train. She was the first woman resident
accepted and trained by DeBakey, and this hallmark has lived with her through the years.
After residency, Ripepi remained at Baylor on the DeBakey team. It was there that she met
her husband of almost 55 years, Alan T. Cramer, MD, a captain and Green Beret with Special
Forces, and honoree of the Bronze Metal with Valor who had returned from Vietnam to
continue his training in plastic and reconstructive surgery.
In 1967, Ripepi was the fourth woman to pass the cardiothoracic board exams. With
DeBakey, she operated at the Methodist Hospital in Houston and eventually continued
there in private practice. She chaired and served on many committees.
In the 1970s Ripepi and her husband were partners in the newly built Woman’s Hospital
of Texas. She was elected chief of medical staff in 1982 and chief of surgery and was also
chairman of Houston Surgical Society 1994.
Ripepi took the LSAT and entered South Texas College of Law from 1985-1989. She passed
the Texas Bar exam in 1989 and ranked in the top 10% of the class. She used this law degree
only as an expert witness in malpractice cases. Ripepi did her last operation in 2007 at the age of 75.
In 2007, after they had each spent 45 years in medicine, Ripepi and her husband retired. They
are philanthropists for hospitals, churches, veterans and needy children, and they enjoy the
Houston Astros, reading, gardening and exercising.
Outstanding Medical Graduate Award – Katie Elizabeth McPeak, MD ’01
Katie McPeak, MD ’01, is a primary care pediatrician at the Karabots Primary Care
Center, West Philadelphia at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She
is also an associate professor of clinical pediatrics and an advisory dean at
the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, a faculty
scholar at PolicyLab at CHOP and medical director for health equity of the
CHOP Primary Care Network. McPeak has over 15 years of experience in quality
improvement, system redesign, innovation and primary care management in
predominantly Medicaid-insured/underserved communities.
McPeak is a certified Spanish-speaking physician. Her goals are to reduce
disparities in care for children and to put the family and patient at the center
of care redesign and innovation. She has a strong interest in improving care
of families who speak a language other than English, children with special
health care needs, and youth who struggle with mental health concerns. Her
research and clinical advocacy focus on raising family perspectives on social care
integration within pediatric health care and identifying and addressing inequities
in pediatric health care delivery. McPeak was relatively new to CHOP when
COVID-19 struck the world and disproportionately affected the communities
she cared about most. Her work during the pandemic focused on outreach to
families about social care support, holding town halls in English and Spanish for
families to attend and ask questions about the virus, and supporting a large-scale
campaign to vaccinate over 25,000 teachers, school personnel and patients/families during the pandemic.
McPeak completed her pediatric residency and chief residency at the University
of Colorado. She has also served on faculty at University of Pittsburgh, UCSF and
Drexel University. However, her most important role is as mother to Amelia and
Desmond, and wife to Chris for over 15 years.
Outstanding Biomedical Sciences Graduate Award – David W. Stepp, PhD, MCP ’94
David W. Stepp, PhD, MCP ’94, is the Leon Henri Charbonnier Endowed Chair in Physiology
at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Augusta University. He earned
his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988 from the University of South Carolina
and his doctorate in physiology from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in
1993. From 1993 to 1996 he was a research fellow at the University
of Washington in Seattle. He came to MCG in 2001 from the Medical College of
Wisconsin, where he was a research assistant professor.
A 21-year faculty member in MCG’s Vascular Biology Center, his research has
been continuously extramurally funded for 20 years, including six awards
from the NIH and four awards from the American Heart Association. Stepp’s
work has resulted in over 80 publications, including signature work in high-impact
cardiovascular journals such as Circulation, Circulation Research and
Hypertension. Stepp has mentored more than a dozen aspiring scientists who
currently hold faculty positions in Calgary, Cincinnati, Oklahoma and at MCG.
An honored educator, he has received multiple MCG Exemplary Teaching Awards
and in 2020 was named MCG’s Outstanding Faculty Member. Stepp also directs
the University System of Georgia’s MD/PhD program, is co-director of the
Department of Medicine’s Research Residency Track and is principal investigator
on MCG’s sole T32 training award. Stepp has provided extensive review service
to NIH, including serving as chair of the Vascular Cell and Molecular Biology
Grant Review Committee from 2015 to 2017. He also has served as a reviewer for the
AHA since 1998, including several tenures as chair of individual study sections.
He serves on the Admissions Committee and the medical school’s Research
Strategic Advisory Committee. Past leadership roles have included chairing the
Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, the MCG Promotion and Tenure
Committee and co-directing the AU Diabetes and Obesity Discovery Institute.
Lifetime Achievement Award – Edward Anthony Nardell, MD, HMC ’72
As the first in his family to attend university, Edward Nardell, MD, HMC ’72, was thrilled
to matriculate at Hahnemann Medical College, class of 1972. After residency,
he accepted a fellowship in pulmonary medicine at Massachusetts General
Hospital, Boston, with an inclination toward academic medicine. In his first
job at Boston City Hospital, he was asked to oversee the city's control of tuberculosis — a disease of waning interest in the U.S. in the late 70s. In 1981,
Nardell accepted the position of chief of pulmonary diseases at the Cambridge
Hospital, a community-based Harvard teaching hospital. Soon thereafter he
also became part-time medical director of TB control for the Massachusetts
Department of Public Health.
As it happened, Nardell had expertise in TB control when the U.S. experienced
a resurgence of the disease between 1985 and 1992 — due to a rising homeless
population, the HIV pandemic and immigration. A rise in TB cases among Haitian
immigrants in Cambridge resulted in his hiring of a Creole-speaking outreach
worker, who was a young man about to start Harvard Medical School after
completing his PhD on HIV in Haiti. That man would become the most notable
social medicine academic and global health implementer of our time: the late
Paul Farmer, MD. He would eventually recruit Nardell to guide multidrug resistant
treatment in Haiti, Peru and Russia, and he would become Nardell’s friend and
boss at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Division of Global Health Equity.
Studies of TB transmission in homeless shelters resulted in insights on TB
pathogenesis and germicidal air disinfection — the latter directly applicable to
controlling airborne COVID-19. Research funded by USAID, NIOSH, NIH and the Gates Foundation on TB transmission and control in South Africa resulted in important
observations that led to his promotion to professor of medicine at Harvard Medical
School and professor of public health at Chan Harvard School of Public Health.
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