Over 200 exemplars of compassionate care are honored with the 2023 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award

The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award was presented this year to over 200 graduating medical students and faculty members who are recognized as exemplars of humanism at medical schools across the United States. View the list online.

“There are many awards for scientific excellence in academic medicine, but the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award is one of a kind. It provides an unparalleled opportunity for a medical school to publicly recognize and celebrate graduating students and faculty who demonstrate excellence in compassion, respect, and the humanistic care of patients. It reinforces that humanism matters,” said Ann Bruder, Associate Vice President of Programs at the Gold Foundation. “We are grateful to the Tow Foundation for their support in recognizing these exemplars of humanism each year.”

Clockwise from top: Dr. Karen Tachi Udoh, 2023 student awardee with Dr. Olivia Mittel, University of Louisville; Dr. Mazie Tsang, 2014 student awardee, with Dr. Damon Lee (left) and JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges, MD, MS, MMM (right); Dr. Stephen Symes, 2018 faculty awardee, presented by Dr. Robert W. Irwin, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The Gold Foundation recognition program is named after Dr. Leonard Tow, an entrepreneur, innovator, philanthropist, and Founding Chairman of the Tow Foundation. Dr. Tow and his wife, Claire, started the foundation to serve the needs of vulnerable populations and to empower them to follow their dreams and contribute to their communities. Dr. Tow is a strong champion of humanism in healthcare and specifically focuses his efforts on supporting innovative research and medical programs in the areas of youth and criminal justice, higher education, culture, journalism, and medicine.

Each participating medical school selects one graduating medical student and one faculty member each year. The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award is typically presented at commencement or a major award ceremony.

Recipients are inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), a community of more than 45,000 doctors and future doctors who have been recognized for their compassionate and clinically excellent care.

Among the new awardees this year is Dr. Bharat Kumar, the editor of the Gold Foundation’s Jeffrey Silver Humanism in Healthcare Research Roundup. He was presented the Tow Award at the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, where he is Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine-Immunology.

“Receiving the Tow Award is such a great honor and privilege. I hope to embody the values and principles of humanism that Dr. Leonard Tow has championed, and to be a leader at the cutting-edge to support and empower those in greatest need of our care,” said Dr. Kumar.

The Gold Foundation, which defines humanistic healthcare as compassionate, collaborative, and scientifically excellent care, originally launched the honor as the Humanism in Medicine Award in 1991 at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons. In 1998, the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey began replicating the award nationwide with participation from the Gold Foundation. And in 2003, the honor became solely sponsored and administered by the Gold Foundation thanks to a generous endowment from The Tow Foundation.

Dr. Olapeju Simoyan received the Tow Award as a medical student at Penn State College of Medicine.

“It really was such an honor to be recognized with the Tow Award as a graduating medical student. Most of the awards were for academic performance, but this was for humanism in medicine. One of my classmates who was there looked at me, and she said, ‘That was the most significant award of all,’” recalled Dr. Simoyan.

The award holds special meaning for faculty as well.

“This award is extremely meaningful to the award recipients,” said Dr. Tami Hendriksz, Dean and Chief Academic Officer at Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine. “It is a powerful example of humanism in medicine which creates untold ripples of improved compassion and patient care. The faculty feel a sense of pride and joy over their student and colleague.”

View the 2023 recipients of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award.

If your school does not currently participate in the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award program, and is interested in learning how to get involved, please email Michelle Sloane, Assistant Director of Program Initiatives at the Gold Foundation, at msloane@gold-foundation.org.

Irene Zampetoulas, MPA

Communications Associate

Supports the Foundation's marketing and communications initiatives, including writing stories, updating social media, crafting our messages, and more.