December 04 Dec 04
06:00 PM
Monday Mon

Photos coming soon!


Alumni Awards Dinner 2023

Each year, the Stanford Medicine Alumni Association presents awards to distinguished alumni for exceptional service to Stanford Medicine and outstanding lifetime contributions to medicine and the biomedical sciences. The Alumni Awards Dinner is an evening awards ceremony celebrating the achievements and in recognition of our outstanding alumni award recipients.

This event is by invitation only.

Alumni Awards & 2023 Recipients

J.E. Wallace Sterling Lifetime Achievement Award in Medicine

In the summer of 1953, J. E. Wallace Sterling, president of Stanford University, persuaded the university trustees to move the School of Medicine from San Francisco to the main Palo Alto campus. The school was moved in 1959, and was transformational in its bringing together, in one location, the resources and pioneering breakthroughs of the School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital, and Stanford University. Stanford Medicine grew steadily in national stature until it attained and now holds a respected place in the front ranks of medical education, scientific achievement, and clinical medicine.

Many years following the move to campus, retired faculty surgeon Gunther W. Nagel, MD ’21, proposed that the school establish an award in Sterling’s name to recognize a distinguished graduate. In 1983, the Stanford Medicine Alumni Association Board of Governors conferred the first J. E. Wallace Sterling Lifetime Achievement Award, now presented annually to a Stanford University School of Medicine MD graduate in recognition of exceptional lifetime achievement in medicine.

George Demetri, MD '83

George Demetri received his BA in biochemistry from Harvard College and his MD from Stanford University School of Medicine before completing his internal medicine residency and serving as chief resident at the University of Washington, Seattle. He then trained as a medical oncology fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Demetri is the senior vice president for experimental therapeutics and director of the Sarcoma Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and serves as co-director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard, along with Joan Brugge, PhD, bringing together more than 30 investigative teams to focus on understanding and preventing resistance to anticancer therapies.

Dr. Demetri’s career as a physician-scientist has been dedicated to developing therapeutics targeting specific oncogenic mechanisms to treat precisely defined subsets of sarcomas and other cancers. He pioneered the development of multiple FDA-approved targeted cancer therapies, including imatinib—the first effective therapeutic for gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) as a paradigm of a mutation-driven solid tumor. Subsequently, he was instrumental in developing the next two FDA-approved drugs for GIST, sunitinib and regorafenib, after resistance to imatinib appeared.

Dr. Demetri’s research efforts have contributed to FDA approval of several other treatments for GIST and therapies for other sarcomas, including trabectedin, pazopanib, and eribulin. He also served on the Scientific Advisory Board for Plexxikon to develop vemurafenib, the first drug to treat melanomas harboring mutant BRAF; similarly, he drove the development of avapritinib with Blueprint Medicines for the PDGFRA-mutant subset of GIST.

In addition to his scientific advisory roles for several biotech and pharmaceutical companies worldwide, Dr. Demetri recently co-founded IDRx, a clinical-stage biotech company, to develop next-generation therapies for GIST. Dr. Demetri received the David Karnofsky Memorial Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2020. He has served on the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Board of Directors and is a member and immediate past chair of the AACR Science Policy and Government Affairs Committee.

Robert C. Malenka, PhD ’82, MD ’83 

Robert C. Malenka is the Nancy Friend Pritzker Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, associate chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, directorof the Nancy Pritzker Laboratory, and a recent, 10-year deputy director of the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute—which he helped to establish at Stanford. 

Dr. Malenka received his PhD in neuroscience and MD from Stanford University School of Medicine, where he also completed six years of residency training in psychiatry. He conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). In 1989, he joined the UCSF faculty, where he was the inaugural director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction and associate director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry. In 1999, he returned to Stanford Medicine, where he has been a leader in establishing interdisciplinary collaborative neuroscience research efforts.

Dr. Malenka’s research findings and hypotheses have dramatically impacted broad areas of basic, translational, and clinical neuroscience, making him one of his generation's most influential neuroscientists and mentors. He defined novel molecular mechanisms that mediate synaptic plasticity and how synaptic adaptations in the brain’s reward circuitry contribute to various adaptive and pathological motivated behaviors. Most recently, his work on the mechanisms of action of neuromodulators such as dopamine and serotonin has led to clinical trials testing novel therapeutic agents in various brain disorders, most notably autism.

Dr. Malenka is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, as well as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has also held leadership roles in several national organizations and is on scientific advisory boards of numerous nonprofit foundations and biotech companies.

Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences

In 2010, the Stanford University Medical Center Alumni Association Board of Governors established an award to recognize the lifetime achievements of Stanford University School of Medicine alumni in the biomedical sciences. This award carries the names of Arthur Kornberg, MD, and Paul Berg, PhD, in recognition of their pioneering contributions to medicine and their service to Stanford.

In 1959, Dr. Kornberg came to Stanford as chair of the newly established Department of Biochemistry. In the same year, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine along with Severo Ochoa for their work in elucidating how DNA is built. These basic studies paved the road to recombinant DNA and genetic engineering, now important elements in the treatment of cancer and viral infections.

Dr. Berg also came to Stanford in 1959. His work with recombinant DNA, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1980, helped launch the biotechnology industry.Drs. Berg and Kornberg brought to Stanford a passion for discovery, groundbreaking research, and a strong spirit of excitement and cooperation. They helped forge an environment that has produced generations of highly successful students and postdoctoral fellows, and in so doing, shaped the future of the School of Medicine. This lifetime achievement award honors their legacy.

Russ B Altman, PhD ’89, MD ’90

Russ Biagio Altman is the Kenneth Fong Professor and professor of bioengineering, genetics, medicine, biomedical data science, and, by courtesy, of computer science. He serves as the associate director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. 

Dr. Altman earned his BA in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard College before receiving his PhD and MD from the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he also completed his internship and residency in internal medicine. 

Dr. Altman served as the past chair of the Stanford Bioengineering Department, which resides jointly in the Schools of Engineering and Medicine. His research applies computing (AI, data science, and informatics) to problems relevant to medicine. Dr. Altman’s research focuses on methods for understanding drug action at molecular, cellular, organism, and population levels. His lab studies how human genetic variation impacts drug response, publicly sharing findings through the comprehensive resource Pharmacogenomics Knowledgebase (PharmGKB). He has a particular interest in understanding the actions, interactions, and adverse events of drugs. He co-leads an FDA-supported Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation. 

Dr. Altman is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, as well as a past president, founding board member, and fellow of the International Society for Computational Biology. He is also a past president of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. He has chaired the Science Board to the FDA Commissioner, served on the NIH Director’s Advisory Committee, and co-chaired the Institute of Medicine Forum on Drug Discovery, Development, and Translation. 

In addition to these roles, Dr. Altman helps organize the annual Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing and is the founding editor-in-chief of the Annual Review of Biomedical Data Science. He co-founded Personalis (PSNL) and hosts “The Future of Everything” podcast.

Kevin Struhl, PhD ’80 

Kevin Struhl is the David Wesley Gaiser Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. He is also an associate member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

Dr. Struhl earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology at MIT, and in 1980, he received his PhD in biochemistry from Stanford University School of Medicine under Ronald W. Davis. From 1980 to 1982, he was a postdoctoral fellow with Sydney Brenner at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, U.K. In 1982, Dr. Struhl became a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and has remained there for the last 41 years. His primary research interests lie in transcriptional regulatory mechanisms in yeast using molecular, genetic, genomic, and biochemical approaches. Dr. Struhl’s pioneering work in recombinant DNA technology, yeast molecular biology, and reverse genetic analysis led to fundamental studies on eukaryotic promoters and transcriptional activator proteins. Dr. Struhl was among the first to use reverse genetic analysis, allowing generations of researchers to understand gene function by genetically engineering sequences within DNA or RNA. 

His subsequent work has spanned diverse subjects, including RNA polymerase II machinery and the preinitiation complex, mechanisms of activation and repression, the role of coregulatory complexes, responses to environmental stress, DNA-binding specificity, transcriptional elongation, polyadenylation, mRNA stability and structure, nucleosome positioning, histone modifications, and epigenetic inheritance.

In addition to his groundbreaking work studying yeast, Dr. Struhl discovered an epigenetic switch and underlying transcriptional circuitry linking inflammation to cancer—a new route to oncogenic transformation independent of mutation. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Stanford University School of Medicine
291 Campus Dr.
Palo Alto, CA 94305

Loading Map...

Stanford University School of Medicine

291 Campus Dr.
Palo Alto, CA 94305
Get Directions