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June 2004 Issue

2004 Daniel Drake Award Winners Herbert Flessa, MD, and P. Reed Larsen, MD
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Drake Awards Honor College of Medicine's Finest

Published June 2004

The College of Medicine has conferred the 2004 Daniel Drake Award on Herbert C. Flessa, MD, and P. Reed Larsen, MD. The highest honor given by the college, the Drake medal recognizes distinguished living faculty or alumni who have made outstanding or unique contributions to medical education, scholarship or research. The award, which commemorates the frontier physician who founded the original medical school in 1819, was presented at the College of Medicine Honors Day ceremony, May 22.

Herbert C. Flessa, MD
Dr. Flessa graduated from UC College of Medicine in 1952. After an internship at Cincinnati General Hospital (now University Hospital) and a year's residency at a local community hospital, he entered general practice in 1954.

Dr. Flessa spent seven years in general practice, while also teaching in the Department of Internal Medicine. In 1961 he returned to the General Hospital for an additional residency year in internal medicine. He followed this with a two-year combined clinical research fellowship in hematology, which he completed in June 1964. He was then appointed assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine's hematology-oncology division, where he worked as a clinician, part-time researcher (mostly in hemostatic disorders) and teacher. During this period he worked closely with the late Helen Glueck, MD, who became his mentor.

Despite his full schedule, Dr. Flessa authored a number of important publications, including a paper on the safety of heparin in the management of thromboembolic disorders in pregnant women, and another describing - for the first time - disseminated intravascular coagulation in young women undergoing saline abortions in the second trimester. He also found the time to become board certified in internal medicine, hematology and oncology.

In the late 1960s, Dr. Flessa developed effective programs for the management of adult patients with acute myeloblastic leukemia. In addition to his other responsibilities, he also served as director of Ambulatory Services and Emergency Services at General Hospital, where he made his mark by developing the first residency training program in the U.S. for emergency physicians. For this achievement he was elected an honorary member of the Society of Teachers of Emergency Medicine in 1979, and in 1988 received the group's Special Recognition Award.

Early in his career Dr. Flessa also served as team physician to athletes at Hughes High School and later at Walnut Hills High School. In addition to his teaching and clinical responsibilities, Dr. Flessa has served the College of Medicine and the Department of Internal Medicine as an administrator. From 1978 to 1979 he was acting director of the department and from 1991 to 1993, acting director for the Division of Hematology-Oncology. Dr. Flessa has been active in the American College of Physicians (ACP), serving on numerous state and national committees and, from 1984 to 1988, as governor for the ACP'S Ohio Chapter.

In recognition of his service, the chapter gave him its Laureate Award in 1991. In 1997 the Department of Internal Medicine named its new Physician's Physician Award, which recognizes exceptional professionalism among residents, after him.

Dr. Flessa remains active on the UC staff, primarily teaching to hematology fellows, residents and students in internal medicine. For nearly a decade, he has also been a member of a group of practitioners who meet monthly at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to interview and examine cancer survivors.

P. Reed Larsen, MD
Dr. Larsen, who has trained many of the world's leading endocrinologists, graduated from Cincinnati's Walnut Hills High School, Princeton University, and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. He spent two years in postdoctoral training in internal medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, and another two at the National Institutes of Health studying the mechanism of iodide transport in the thyroid. Dr. Larsen returned to Cincinnati as a medical resident at the Cincinnati General Hospital and from 1968 to 1969 was a fellow in metabolism in the Division of Endocrinology. During that year he studied the effect of phenytoin (diphenylhydantoin) on thyroxine (T4) metabolism in humans. That experience influenced Dr. Larsen's final decision to pursue a career in academic medicine. In 1969 he was appointed assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and three years later, associate professor of medicine at the same institution. In 1975 he moved to Boston as chief of the thyroid division at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he remains today. He became professor of medicine in 1981. In 2002 he was appointed chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension at the Brigham and Women's Hospital when this and the Thyroid Division were merged.

From 1975 to 1991 Dr. Larsen was an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and focused his research efforts on the mechanism of thyroid hormone action. In 1984 Dr. Larsen took a sabbatical year at the Massachusetts General to learn the basics of molecular biology and to see how these techniques could be applied to physiological questions.

Dr. Larsen is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London. He was chair of the Endocrinology Study Section from 1991 to 1993 and continues as an ad hoc reviewer. He has received the Van Meter-Armour Prize, the Parke-Davis Distinguished Lectureship, and the Distinguished Service Award of the American Thyroid Association and served as president of this organization in 1993. He has also been honored with the Clinical Endocrinology Trust Medal of the United Kingdom, the Merck Prize of the European Thyroid Association, the Award for a Distinguished Career in Clinical Investigation from Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the Knoll Pharmaceuticals Mentorship Award and the Edwin B. Astwood Lectureship for Outstanding Research from The Endocrine Society.

Senior editor of the latest edition of "Williams' Textbook of Endocrinology," the most authoritative text on this subject, he also maintains an active practice in thyroidology in addition to his administrative and research activities.

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