Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the Vilcek Foundation are pleased to announce that the 2023 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare will be presented to Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi.  Dr. Bottazzi has been selected for her leadership in the development of a patent-free open-source vaccine for COVID-19, and for her career-long work to support healthcare education and access in vulnerable populations globally. Born in Italy and raised in Honduras, she was inspired by her family’s entrepreneurial and diplomatic spirit, which she credits as having a profound impact on her character and career. Read the full announcement. 

The Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare was created jointly by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation and The Vilcek Foundation in 2019 to recognize a foreign-born individual who has had an extraordinary impact on humanism in healthcare through their professional achievements in the United States. This award marks the first humanism-in-healthcare-focused honor for the Vilcek Foundation and the first immigrant-designated humanism honor for the Gold Foundation.

About The Vilcek Foundation

The Vilcek Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the foundation, to honor the contributions of immigrants to the United States and to foster appreciation of the arts and sciences, was inspired by the couple’s respective careers in biomedical science and art history, as well as their appreciation for the opportunities they received as newcomers to this country.

“One does not have to look far to find evidence of immigrant contributions to American society, and medicine is no exception,” said Dr. Jan Vilcek, CEO and Chairman of the Vilcek Foundation. “With the Vilcek-Gold Award, we are proud to honor immigrants in healthcare who serve the American public with both their hearts and their minds.”

Jan Vilcek, MD, PhD
Chairman and CEO, The Vilcek Foundation

About the award

The award includes an unrestricted cash prize of $10,000, a unique commemorative award, and an invitation to present at the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Learn Serve Lead annual meeting.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Nominee must have been born outside of the United States to non-American parents;
  • Nominee must work professionally in healthcare;
  • Nominee must be based in the United States and plan to pursue their career in the United States;
  • Nominee must be one of the following: a naturalized citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States; a holder of an H-1B or O-1 visa; a holder of an E-4 visa with a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD), an asylee; an asylum seeker with a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD); or a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient.

Nomination and Selection Criteria

  • Nominee has made significant contributions to humanism (including compassion, collaboration, and scientific excellence) in healthcare nationally or regionally in the United States; and has created lasting change in the administration or experience of healthcare beyond their immediate workspace.
  • Nominee has a strong voice and visibly advocates for humanism in healthcare.
  • Nominee demonstrates respect, sensitivity, and appreciation for the social, cultural and economic backgrounds of people.
  • Nominee practices the values of diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism in their work.
  • Nominee remains extensively involved and currently active in their work.

2023 AAMC Learn Serve Lead Conference

The Vilcek-Gold Award is presented at the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Annual Meeting, where the recipient also presents as part of the Voices of Medicine & Society lecture series. Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi will lead a session of the AAMC Learn Serve Lead conference in November in Seattle, Washington. You must be registered for the conference to attend this session. Learn more and register here.

2022 Vilcek-Gold Award recipient

Dr. Mona Fouad

Dr. Mona Fouad, 2022 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare honoree

Dr. Mona Fouad received the 2022 Vilcek-Gold Award for her leadership in health disparities research and for her career-long commitment to equity in healthcare. Dr. Fouad is the Founding Director of the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) Minority Health and Health Disparity Research Center; Senior Associate Dean for diversity and inclusion in the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine; and Professor and Director of the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine. Her work has been foundational to the development of rigorous research and interventions to make healthcare more accessible and equitable to historically underserved populations in the United States.

Read the news release announcing her award, plus an article about her presentation at the AAMC Learn Serve Lead conference.

2021 Vilcek-Gold Award recipients

Left to right, Drs. Denisse Rojas Marquez and Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn, 2021 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare honorees

Drs. Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn and Denisse Rojas Marquez received the 2021 Vilcek-Gold Award for their leadership in advocating for diverse and inclusive healthcare with a supportive path to the profession accessible to immigrants. Studies have repeatedly shown that healthcare with diverse clinicians and an environment of respect and compassion leads to better outcomes.

Drs. Latthivongskorn and Rojas Marquez, along with Angel Ku, established Pre-Health Dreamers (PHDreamers), a collective organization that provides information and resources to young immigrants who want to pursue higher education and careers in healthcare. Both are also frequent speakers and commenters on immigration policy in the United States. Dr. Rojas Marquez provided testimony at a 2017 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Dr. Latthivongskorn was a plaintiff in the case that brought DACA before the Supreme Court of the United States in 2019, Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California.

Read the news release.

2020 Vilcek-Gold Award recipient

Dr. Vivek Murthy, 2020 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare honoree

Dr. Vivek Murthy is the 19th Surgeon General of the United States. He is an immigrant born in the United Kingdom to parents of Indian descent, who emigrated to the United States by way of Nova Scotia. He received the 2020 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare for his multi-faceted approach to addressing the opioid crisis in the United States, and for his continued advocacy and support of human- and community-centered care.

“Dr. Vivek Murthy famously said, ‘The world is locked in a struggle between love and fear. Choose love. Always,’” said Dr. Richard I. Levin, Gold Foundation President and CEO. “Such is a rallying cry now for doctors and nurses and all those on the front lines in the COVID-19 crisis, as they show us what love looks like over and over. Dr. Murthy understands deeply the importance of humanism, the importance of love, in guiding our actions and our world.”

Read the news release and this special piece: Dr. Vivek Murthy: The power of human connection.

2019 Vilcek-Gold recipient

MSU's Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha [photo courtesy of MSU Division of Public Health, College of Human Medicine, March 2017]

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and founder and director of the Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, is an immigrant born in the United Kingdom to parents of Iraqi descent. She drew nationwide attention to the widespread lead-poisoning of children in Flint, Michigan, through the public water supply as a whistleblower.

Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s public health activism arose from a deep wellspring of humanism – an ideal that puts human interests, values and dignity at the core of healthcare. The Vilcek and Gold foundations sought to honor the impact of humanism and compassion in medicine while spotlighting immigrant leaders in American healthcare when they joined forces to create the award.

She received the inaugural 2019 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare not only for this monumental work, but also for her continued activities as the director of the Michigan State University Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, serving as a champion for underprivileged kids worldwide.

Read more in the news release and in this special piece: A choiceless choice: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha on standing up and speaking out.

About the AAMC lecture & award program

The Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare is presented at Learn Serve Lead: The AAMC Annual Meeting. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has been a champion for immigrant physicians and their contributions to academic medicine.

In 2019, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha shared her story as part of the Voices in Medicine and Society lecture series during Learn Serve Lead. To learn more about Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s lecture, click here.

In 2020, Dr. Vivek Murthy was presented the Vilcek-Gold Award at the AAMC Learn Serve Lead and then engaged in a wide-ranging conversation with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. Watch here:

Jury members

A national panel of jurors who are distinguished members of the medical and healthcare community selects the recipient of the Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare.

To view the jury members, click here.