Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare

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.

2020 Vilcek-Gold Award honoree

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

On May 26, The Vilcek Foundation and The Arnold P. Gold Foundation announced the recipient of the 2020 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare: Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th Surgeon General of the United States.

Dr. Murthy is receiving 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 this 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 full announcement.

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.

Award criteria

Nominees must be foreign-born, based in the United States, and have made contributions to humanism in healthcare, medicine or public health advocacy in the United States.

Nominee must be a naturalized citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States; be a holder of an H-1B or O-1 visa and have been living and working in the United States for at least 5 years; or have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

2019 Vilcek-Gold honoree

Dr. Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and associate professor at Michigan State University College

MSU's Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.

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

of Human Medicine, 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.

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.

In September 2015, Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s research uncovered high blood lead levels found in Flint children after the city’s water supply was switched to a new source as a part of austerity measures in 2014. Despite denials from state officials that the water source was responsible for the elevated blood lead levels, Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s persistent advocacy, along with that of Flint community activists, forced city management to acknowledge wrongdoing, switch the water supply back to a safe source, and commit to long-term public health measures to mitigate the lead poisoning.

She is receiving the 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 2019 Vilcek-Gold Award for Humanism in Healthcare was presented at Learn Serve Lead 2019: The AAMC Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has been a champion for immigrant physicians and their contributions to academic medicine. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha shared her story as part of the Voices in Medicine and Society lecture series during the meeting.

To learn more about Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s lecture, click here.

The 2020 award is also a collaboration with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The award was scheduled to be presented at the 2020 AAMC Annual Meeting and Dr. Murthy was scheduled to deliver a lecture there as part of the Voices of Medicine and Society series. The 2020 in-person conference has been canceled, but the three organizations still plan to organize a presentation of the award and lecture. Details will be posted when they are available.