AMA Foundation Honors Five Physicians

National Award Recognizes Dedication to Community Service, Public Health and Patient Care

CHICAGO – February 20, 2013 – The American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation recently presented Excellence in Medicine Awards to a select group of physicians who exemplify the medical profession's highest values: leadership, community service and dedication to treating underserved patients. 

Five outstanding physicians and 20 medical students and residents were honored at the Excellence in Medicine Awards ceremony and dinner on February 11, 2013 in Washington D.C., presented in association with Pfizer Inc. 

The Jack B. McConnell, MD, Award for Excellence in Volunteerism honors senior physician volunteers who increase access to health care in the United States.

Matthew B. Mandel, MD
Stockbridge, MA

After retiring from a 20-year career as an anesthesiologist, Matthew B. Mandel, MD, decided to shift gears by taking a leadership role in the creation of Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires (VIM Berkshires), a free health care clinic for uninsured and underinsured low-income residents. Prior to retiring in 1997, Dr. Mandel was the chairman of the department of anesthesia at Providence Hospital in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Dr. Mandel has recruited 55 volunteer doctors and clinical providers, as well as 18 off-site specialists. Today, nearly 2,000 patients have received treatment at VIM Berkshires over the course of 16,000 visits, and more than 400 patients have received free specialist referrals. Dr. Mandel also served as a trustee of several other organizations, including the Board of the Community Access to the Arts, the Stockbridge Bowl Association and the Executive Committee of the Berkshire County Medical Society.

The Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine honors physicians for outstanding international service.

Mark L. Jacobson, MD, MPH
Arusha, Tanzania

Mark L. Jacobson, MD, MPH, has been building public health capacity in East Africa for more than 30 years.  Dr. Jacobson spent two decades transforming a small dispensary in the outskirts of Arusha, Tanzania into the Selian Lutheran Hospital, which has provided care for thousands of marginalized and disabled people. Dr. Jacobson developed a school for educating assistant medical officers, and under his guidance scores of young doctors, nurses and techs have received training.  In 2005, Dr. Jacobson spearheaded the fundraising and planning efforts to build a second hospital, the Arusha Lutheran Medical Center, which now offers inpatient and outpatient services to Arusha’s urban population.

Rebecca Morsch, MD, MPH
Kudjip, WHP, Papua New Guinea

Rebecca Morsch, MD, MPH, is the coordinator of the community-based health care program of the Nazarene Health Ministry in Papua New Guinea, which trains community-chosen community health volunteers and village birth attendants in one of the United Nation’s designated Least Developed Countries. Dr. Morsch’s training curriculum focuses on prevention and provides culturally-sensitive health education about childbirth and childcare, hygiene, waste management, injury prevention and sexually transmitted diseases.  Dr. Morsch also helped organize Papua New Guinea’s array of community-based health organizations into the Effective Development Empowering the Nation (EDEN) Network. After working as a social worker for more than 15 years, Dr. Morsch changed course and entered the University of Kansas School of Medicine and went on to earn her Masters of Public Health from Loma Linda University.

Morgantown, WV

VK Raju, MD, FRCS, FACS, is the founder and medical director of the Eye Foundation of America (EFA), a charitable organization that provides eye care in 21 developing countries to combat avoidable childhood blindness. For more than 30 years, Dr. Raju has led the EFA in providing free and subsidized treatment in remote areas, and has engaged in health education, practitioner training and research efforts that have advanced the visual health of 1.7 million people.

Dr. Raju is also a clinical professor of ophthalmology at West Virginia University, and has lectureships in various universities across the United States.  He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and of the American College of Surgeons, and has authored more than 300 papers, 100 publications and 10 book chapters.

The Pride in the Profession Award honors physicians who aid underserved domestic populations.

Mary Brennan Wirshup, MD
West Chester, PA

Mary Brennan Wirshup, MD, is the vice president of medical affairs at Community Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM) in West Chester, Pennsylvania, a community-based nonprofit organization that provides medical and dental care to low-income, uninsured individuals. Dr. Wirshup coordinates the efforts of approximately 150 volunteer physicians, nurses and specialists, and serves as a mentor to hundreds of pre-med and medical students that come to CVIM for highly-desired internships and clinical rotations. Her efforts helped CVIM greatly improve the effectiveness of its diabetes clinic and diabetes self-management and education program. Dr. Wirshup, a clinical assistant professor at Temple Medical School, is recipient of the 2008 Nurse Practitioner Advocate of the Year Award from the State of Pennsylvania.

To view the names of AMA Foundation Leadership Award recipients and watch brief videos about the lives and initiatives of award recipients, please visit

The AMA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation, is improving the health of Americans through philanthropic support of quality programs in public health and medical education. To join the AMA Foundation in supporting medical heroes like the Excellence in Medicine Award winners, visit

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Media Contact:
Amy Jenkins, AMA Foundation
(312) 464-5864

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