For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Alumni Association Award Winners

2024 Alumni Association Award Recipients

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2024 Alumni Association Awards.

Boots Cooper, MD, Service Award – Thomas R. Bender, MD, HU ’68; PHSCC

Thomas Bender, MD, is the founder and medical director at Healthy Potentials, LLC. He is also a United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps veteran. After graduating from medical school, Bender learned that the U.S. Public Health Service was looking to add members to the Commissioned Corps and send doctors to Alaska. He realized that the Commissioned Corps would be where his skills would fit best. His service with the Public Health Service started in 1969. He served with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and went to Atlanta for an intensive training course in epidemiology.

After training, he went to the Arctic Health Research Center in Alaska, later becoming the acting director of this center. While there, he worked with a team identifying the main causes of morbidity and mortality for Alaska’s Native people. Bender worked in Alaska for four years before going to the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to earn an MPH in 1974 and complete a general preventive medicine residency. He then went back to Alaska and began working with the World Health Organization (WHO) on behalf of the CDC.

With the WHO, Bender went to the South Pacific to lead epidemiology training courses for allied health personnel. This turned into a full-time position, and he worked for the University of Hawaii as an affiliate professor from the CDC. After finishing his work in Hawaii, Bender spent two years in Virginia with the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Office of Health and then became the director of the Division of Safety Research for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

He retired from this job in 1993 after 25 years of service. During his Public Health Service career, Bender traveled around the world. He often worked closely with the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, handling outbreaks and conducting research as a medical and epidemiological investigator. He was also part of the Public Health Service team that responded to the Exxon Valdez oil spill as well as many other Public Health Service research projects focused on investigating malaria and setting up clinics.

Bender enjoyed his time with the Public Health Service and extended his time beyond his draft requirement. He received many awards, including a notable one: a special medal for achievement by the authority of the Crown Princess Sirindhorn of the Royal Family of Thailand in 1991.

Emerging Leader Award – Sara Schultz, MD ’10

Alumni Association Award winner Sara Schultz, MD '10

Sara Keely Schultz, MD, graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in 2010 and completed internship and residency and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. After finishing her infectious disease fellowship at Temple University Hospital, Schultz joined the faculty at Drexel University College of Medicine. At Drexel, she focused on HIV education and care at the Partnership Comprehensive Care Practice and also served as a teaching attending at Hahnemann University Hospital, where she was the associate program director for the Infectious Disease Fellowship. Schultz was the co-director of the second-year clinical skills course and also the medical director of the Streetside student-run clinic at Prevention Point Philadelphia, the city’s syringe exchange.

In 2021, Schultz joined the faculty in the Section of Infectious Diseases at Temple to serve as the program director for the Infectious Disease Fellowship. She currently serves on the Leadership Group for the IDSA National Training Program Director Committee.

Her clinical specialty is in the empathic and humanistic care for people who use drugs, focusing on wounds and complex infections in this population. She is also interested in HIV care, sexual health and viral hepatitis. Her current research centers around understanding the factors needed to better serve this population and creating quality improvement projects with students, residents and fellows around care for people who use drugs. Schultz also has a passion for infectious disease education and fellowship recruitment.

Graduate Citation Award – Early Career or Young Investigator – Dongyu Wei, PhD ’18

Alumni Association Award winner Dongyu Wei, PhD '18

Dongyu (Doria) Wei received her PhD in pharmacology and physiology from Drexel University College of Medicine in 2018. After that, she joined the Neuroscience Institute of NYU Langone Medical Center for her postdoctoral research until 2021, when she joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Throughout the years working in academia, Wei has made significant contributions to the scientific field with her first- and co-authorships in Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, Journal of Neuroscience, etc.

Currently, she is a scientific investigator at the Respiratory & Immunology Biology Unit of GSK. Her research is focused on leading biology aspects of pipeline target identification/validation projects in neurodegeneration. Meanwhile, she has established crucial electrophysiology platforms for the screening and testing of compounds and antibodies in the early stages of drug discovery.

With a strong ambition to make greater contributions to the pharmaceutical field, Wei is going to pursue a part-time MS degree in clinical research organization and management at Drexel this summer. She believes this program could help her fill her knowledge gap in later drug discovery stages and clinical research/development, broaden her skill set and deepen her understanding of clinical research methodologies and management practices.

Outside of work, she is enthusiastic in helping the patients and health care staff by volunteering as a medical translator. She also serves as a topic editor in the Journal of Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Biomedical Sciences Graduate Recognition Award – Allison Denman, MS Forensic Science ’16

Alumni Association Award winner Allison Denman, MS '16

Allison Denman, MS, BSN, RN, SANE-A, is the clinical director and forensic nurse manager of the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center (PSARC), the city’s 24/7/365 resource for forensic evidence collection and medical care of adult and older adolescent victims of acute sexual assault.

Outside of PSARC, Denman serves as a certified expert witness for local district attorneys and the state attorney general, specializing in expert testimony regarding traumatology and pathology pertinent to the SANE patient. She also recently served as the president of the International Association of Forensic Nursing Pennsylvania Chapter, in which she still provides a wealth of insight and consultation to local and state-level regulating entities overseeing SANE services in Pennsylvania from a multidisciplinary team perspective. She strives to connect all SANE teams in Pennsylvania and has since begun a regional SANE coordination committee for Southeast Pennsylvania, as well as assisting in the remodeling of the Philadelphia SART interface to be more inclusive to forensic nursing at PSARC, CHOP and St. Christopher’s Hospital.

Denman is committed to accessible, comprehensive and inclusive evidence-based education and policy development for progressive SANE care. Some of her pertinent projects include the development of a quality assurance system for the Philadelphia Police Department’s crime laboratory's processing of sexual assault evidence testing kits (rape kits), developing a comprehensive hands-on skills training curriculum for SANE care of adults and adolescents, creating accessible literature for law enforcement to provide to SANE patients wishing to be anonymous, developing an ongoing training module for district attorneys to understand the role of the SANE nurse and utilization of medical fact witnesses, developing multiple curricula for the Pennsylvania Department of EMS training of pre-hospital EMS and fire personnel interfacing with forensic patients, leading the development of comprehensive discharge instructions in all major languages spoken in Philadelphia for patients seeking post-assault follow-up care in the primary care settings, working with high school students and teachers to encourage advocacy against sexual violence against Philadelphia’s youth, and more.

Denman finds peace in her spare time educating as an adjunct professor at Rosemont College, where she teaches forensic anthropology and victimology coursework from an ethically compassionate and trauma-informed scope of practice for bachelor’s level students interested in pursuing careers and advocacy in criminal justice and social services, and otherwise guest lectures for colleges and universities across the country on special topics pertaining to forensic nursing and radical community care.

HU Distinguished Graduate Award – Howard Miller, MD, HU ’74

Alumni Association Award winner Howard Miller, MD, HU '74

Howard Miller, MD, is emeritus professor of medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 1971 and from the Hahnemann Medical College in 1974. He served his internal medicine residency from 1974-1976 and was chief medical resident in 1976-1977. He joined the faculty at the Hahnemann Medical College in 1977 and rose from the rank of senior instructor to professor in 1996, later being named emeritus.

Miller was recognized for academic excellence with membership in Alpha Omega Alpha in 1973. He obtained American Board of Internal Medicine certification in 1977 and became a fellow of the American College of Physicians.

He served in a number of academic and administrative appointments including: academic coordinator senior medical student curriculum (1978-1983), director, residency training program (1979-1986 and again from 1991-1993), and senior advisor to the residency program (1993-1995). He has been director of the Division of General Internal Medicine (2000-2007); executive vice chair of the Department of Medicine (2005-2016) and president of the medical staff of Hahnemann Hospital (2002-2004). He also serves as a member of the Education Advisory Board for the Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Biomedical Engineering and the School Committee of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He was appointed to be vice dean for clinical affairs, running the practice plan for the medical school.

Miller has co-edited four review textbooks of general internal medicine, and numerous textbook chapters and journal articles. He was the supplement editor of the journal Clinical Cornerstone and serves on the Continuing Medical Education Advisory Board for Excerpta Medica and Reed Elsivier Publishing. Currently, he is editor-in-chief of Postgraduate Medicine Journal, published in London.

His clinical excellence has been recognized by being included in Philadelphia magazine’s Top Doctors list 16 times, Town and Country Magazine’s list of Best Primary Care Doctors and Castle Connolly’s Best Doctors of America.

Miller has been recognized at Hahnemann and Drexel for his outstanding teaching abilities at both the undergraduate and graduate medical education levels. In recognition of his dedication to teaching, he has received a number of awards: Department of Medicine Residency Pacemaker Award (1979, 1982, 1986, 1992); Best Clinical Teacher by the Class of 1987; Lindback Foundation Award for Clinical Excellence (1988); Blockley Osler Award for Best Clinical Bedside Teaching (1989 and 1993); Dean’s Award for Clinical Teaching (1994, 2002, 2004); 16 Golden Apple Award nominations and six Golden Apple Awards; the Likoff Award for Clinical Excellence; Teacher of the Year for the residency program on six occasions and the initial recipient of the Trustees of the Medical School Award for teaching excellence.

Miller opened the first Convenient Care Center for Drexel in partnership with the nursing school, the first Convenient Care Center in the country associated with a medical school. Most importantly, he practiced general internal medicine for 46 years and taught on a daily basis all of that time.

WMC Distinguished Graduate Award – Petros Levounis, MD, MCP ’94

Alumni Association Award winner Petros Levounis, MD, MCP '94

Petros Levounis, MD, MA, serves as professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and associate dean at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. He is also the chief of service at University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, director of the Northern New Jersey Medications for Addiction Treatment Center of Excellence, and president of the American Psychiatric Association. Levounis came to Rutgers from Columbia University, where he served as director of the Addiction Institute of New York from 2002 to 2013. He is also married to actor Lukas Hassel and lives in New York City.

Levounis is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, where he studied chemistry and biophysics before receiving his medical education at Stanford University School of Medicine and the Medical College of Pennsylvania. During medical school, he researched the effects of social class on patient-physician relationships in Oxford, England, and received an MA degree in sociology from Stanford. In 1994, he moved to New York City to train in psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute of Columbia University. He graduated from Columbia earning the National Institute of Mental Health Outstanding Resident Award and went on to complete his fellowship in addiction psychiatry at New York University.

He has served on the boards of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and from 2005 to 2009 chaired the national Committee on Addiction Treatment of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Levounis is a Betty Ford Scholar, a recipient of the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists’ Distinguished Service Award and the ASAM Educator of the Year Award, and a distinguished fellow of the APA and ASAM. In 2017, he was elected as an honorary member of the World Psychiatric Association.

Levounis has written numerous articles, monographs, and book chapters; has lectured extensively on addiction topics throughout the United States and abroad; and has been interviewed by CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX, The Martha Stewart Radio Show, The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others. He has also published fourteen books including the self-help paperback Sober Siblings: How to Help Your Alcoholic Brother or Sister—and Not Lose Yourself, the textbooks Substance Dependence and Co-Occurring Psychiatric Disorders, Motivational Interviewing for Clinical Practice, The Behavioral Addictions, Becoming Mindful, LGBTQ Mental Health: The Spectrum of Gender and Sexuality, Office-Based Buprenorphine Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder, now in its second edition, and Technological Addictions. He is currently working on the first textbook of Nature Therapy, which is going to be available in the spring of 2024. His books have been translated into French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.

Outstanding Medical Graduate Award – R. Sharon Chinthrajah, MD ’04

Alumni Association Award winner R. Sharon Chinthrajah, MD '04

R. Sharon Chinthrajah, MD, is the acting director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research, where she leads the team to conduct novel and impactful Phase 1-3 translational studies in food allergy, asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, COVID and influenza. Chinthrajah received her MD from Drexel University College of Medicine, completed her internal medicine training and a chief residency at California Pacific Medical Center, and sub-specialized in pulmonary/critical care and allergy/immunology at Boston Medical Center.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Mary O'Connor, MD, MCP ’85

Alumni Association Award winner Mary O'Connor, MD, MCP '85

Mary I. O’Connor, MD is co-founder and chief medical officer of Vori Health, a virtual musculoskeletal company focus on transforming the delivery of patient-centered and value-drive care. She is a nationally recognized leader in health equity, chair of the Board of Directors of Movement Is Life, a nonprofit multi-stakeholder coalition committed to addressing musculoskeletal health disparities. Her new book, Taking Care of You: The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Better Health, supports women advocating for equitable health care.

A past Olympian (U.S. Women’s Rowing), O’Connor is passionate in her promotion of the power of sports for girls and women as well as to improve health and well-being for all. Since its inception in 2010, she has chaired Movement Is Life and led the transition of the organization to nonprofit status in 2022. The annual Movement Is Life Summit in Washington, D.C. is a premier health equity conference, attracting high-profile keynote speakers. The organization’s programs focus on improving equity at the clinician, patient, community and policymaker level with innovative and effective programs and collaborations.

O’Connor is professor emerita of orthopedics at Mayo Clinic and past professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine. She received her MD from Drexel University and completed her residency in orthopedics and fellowship in orthopedic oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She practiced at Mayo Clinic in Florida until 2015, during which time she served in many leadership roles: enterprise-wide medical director of the Office of Integrity and Compliance; chair, Orthopedic Surgery Department (Florida); medical director for development (Florida); and member of the executive operations team (Florida). In 2015, she became the inaugural director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Care at Yale School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Health. In February 2021, O’Connor became a co-founder and the chief medical officer at Vori Health to advance her passion for transforming musculoskeletal care.

She has published extensively on clinical research and innovation in care pathways, hip fracture care, limb salvage for tumor, sex and gender differences in arthritis, and regenerative medicine. O’Connor has published landmark articles on pelvic and shoulder limb salvage and the use of bone marrow aspirate concentrate to treat knee osteoarthritis. At Yale, she led the creation of a multidisciplinary hip fracture program which transformed clinical outcomes and promoted innovation in the care of this vulnerable population. O’Connor’s research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, and the Journal of Arthroplasty. She authors a quarterly column in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research entitled, “Equity360: Gender, Race and Ethnicity,” to advance health equity in the orthopedic profession.


Back to Top