2024 Daniel Drake Medals to be awarded April 27

Two faculty and an alumna will receive the UC College of Medicine's highest honor

Two current faculty members and an alumna of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine will receive 2024 Daniel Drake Medals, the highest honor awarded by the college, during a celebration on April 27. The medal recipients are Gail Besner, MD, James Herman, PhD, and Brett Kissela, MD. 

"These 2024 medal recipients are exemplars of the College of Medicine and are representative of our incredible alumni and extraordinary faculty," says Andrew T. Filak Jr., MD, senior vice president for health affairs and Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean of the College of Medicine, and a 2018 Drake Medal recipient. 

Portrait of Dr. Gail Besner

Gail Besner, MD. Photo courtesy of Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Besner is a member of the college’s Class of 1982 and is the H. William Clatworthy Jr. Professor of Surgery and chief of the Department of Pediatric Surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. She is also chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.

An outstanding pediatric surgeon and scientist, Besner is an expert in necrotizing enterocolitis, a bacterial invasion of the intestinal wall of neonates with a mortality rate of up to 50%. After graduating from the College of Medicine, Besner completed her general surgery residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston followed by a research fellowship in the Boston Children’s Hospital laboratory of Judah Folkman, MD, founder of the field of angiogenesis.

Besner did her pediatric surgery training at Buffalo Children’s Hospital before joining the faculty at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She has received the Sheen Award from the American College of Surgeons and the Nationwide Children’s Allen Distinguished Scholar Award in recognition of her research.

Portrait of University of Cincinnati Doctor James P. Herman, PhD
Professor Associate Director for UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, Department Chair, & Flor van Maanen Endowed Chair shown here for Daniel Drake Awards ceremony Tuesday March 19, 2024 at Care Crawley. Photos by Joseph Fuqua II

James Herman, PhD. Photo/Joseph Fuqua/University of Cincinnati.

Herman is the Flor van Maanen Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and, since 2018, the chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Physiology at the College of Medicine. An internationally recognized expert in stress neurobiology, his research has been responsible for uncovering the molecular basis of how the brain responds to stress and how a person’s response to stress can lead to a variety of neurological diseases.

He is most well-known for discovering the neuro-anatomical pathways that translate stress information into physiological and behavioral responses. In 2020, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology. Herman received his doctorate in neurobiology and anatomy from the University of Rochester and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. He served on the faculty of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine from 1991 to 1999 before joining the UC College of Medicine faculty in 2000.

Portrait of University of Cincinnati Doctor Brett M. Kissela, MD
Department Chair Senior Associate Dean of Clinical Research, Chief of Research Services for UC Health, Albert Barnes Voorheis Endowed Chair, & Professor Neurology & Rehabilitation Medicine College of Medicine shown here for Daniel Drake Awards ceremony Tuesday March 19, 2024 at Care Crawley. Photos by Joseph Fuqua II

Brett Kissela, MD. Photo/Joseph Fuqua/University of Cincinnati.

Kissela is chair of the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, Albert Barnes Voorheis Professor of Neurology, executive vice dean and senior associate dean for clinical research at the College of Medicine.

Kissela is a national leader in stroke epidemiology, diabetes impact on stroke and stroke recovery. For nearly 20 years, he has been the principal investigator of a population-based study in Greater Cincinnati that has established much of the epidemiology of stroke in the U.S., including the estimated number of strokes in the country, the risk factors for stroke, the recent change in incidence by age, gender and race and the evolution of how stroke is treated and managed.

Kissela received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine. He completed his neurology residency at the University of Michigan and a fellowship in cerebrovascular disease at UC. He also earned a master’s degree in epidemiology from UC.

The Daniel Drake Medal is awarded annually to living faculty or alumni for their outstanding and unique contributions to medical education, scholarship and research. The medal was established in 1985 to honor the 200th birthday of Daniel Drake, MD, the founder of the Medical College of Ohio, the forerunner of the UC College of Medicine, and one of the most influential physicians, educators and scientists of 19th century America. 

Featured photo at top of Daniel Drake Medal. Photo/University of Cincinnati.

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