Carson receives 2015 Fuller Award

Shannon Carson, MD, professor of medicine, division chief, Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine, has been awarded this year’s H. Fleming Fuller Award. Carson, who joined the UNC School of Medicine faculty in 1999, called the recognition the peak of his career so far at UNC.

Carson receives 2015 Fuller Award click to enlarge (L to R): Kirk Fuller, Shannon Carson, MD, Lyndon Fuller
Carson receives 2015 Fuller Award click to enlarge Shannon Carson, MD, delivers his acceptance speech

By Jamie Williams, jamie.williams@unchealth.unc.edu

The Fuller Award was established in 1987 to honor the legacy of Dr. H. Fleming Fuller, who served as a founding member of the North Carolina Memorial Hospital Board of Directors. It is given annually to the member of the medical staff who most embodies Fuller’s lifelong commitment to patient care, teaching and community service.  Nominations are made by UNC Health Care employees, members of the medical staff and resident physicians. The winner is selected by the Fuller Award Committee.

“This is a true honor for me because of what Dr. Fuller stood for and what this award stands for: excellence in care and service to the people of North Carolina,” Carson said.

Several members of the Fuller family attended the ceremony, including Dr. Fuller’s two sons Kirk and Lyndon, Dr. Fuller’s granddaughter Catherine Harvey and her husband George Harvey.

Carson said his close relationships with many of the past winners make the recognition extra special.

“Many of the early winners of the Fuller Award were professors and mentors from my time as a medical student at UNC,” Carson said. “And the more recent winners are colleagues and partners. All are fabulous and I’m honored to join the group.”

In his introductory remarks, Tony Lindsey, MD, UNC Hospitals’ Chief Medical Officer, said Carson fully embodies the award’s criteria.

“Dr. Carson is a true academic triple threat,” Lindsey said. “He is a scientist whose work spans a range of topics, an award winning teacher and an outstanding clinician. Several colleagues have said that Dr. Carson’s quiet, unassuming leadership style makes everyone around him better.”

In his acceptance speech, Carson credited the UNC system for helping to shape the physician, clinician, educator and leader he has become. Raised in Winterville, NC, Carson’s parents both worked at East Carolina University. Carson received his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University, serving as the University’s Student Body President his senior year, an experience he described as transformative.

When it came time to apply to medical school, the primary care and service mission of the UNC School of Medicine made it a natural choice. He attended medical school at UNC (MD, '89) during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and developed a passion for lung diseases. He completed his residency and fellowship at the University of Chicago and served on the faculty there until 1999 when he returned to UNC.

Since returning, Carson has focused much of his work on the overall goal of improving the quality of care and patient outcomes in the Medical Intensive Care Unit.

“UNC’s emphasis on public health and primary care allows us to look beyond medicine’s shiny objects –the latest technology or the newest blockbuster drug – to focus on improving care and delivering therapies to everyone who needs them,” Carson said.

That emphasis on care improvement, he said, has helped make UNC a leader and model for others.

“People come to UNC to innovate, to work with others and generate new ways to care for patients and improve outcomes,” Carson said. “And when we improve care here, we share what we’ve learned and others can improve as well, benefitting patients across the state of North Carolina and across the world.”

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