TBJ Selects Seven Health Care Heroes from UNC Medical Center, School of Medicine

Triangle Business Journal selected seven medical and research leaders as Health Care Heroes, including former Dean and UNC Health Care CEO William Roper, current Dean and CEO Wesley Burks, and the student-led organization White Coats Black Doctors.

January 31, 2019

For its 18th annual Health Care Heroes Awards program this spring, Triangle Business Journal “will honor Triangle individuals and organizations for putting innovation and compassion to work to improve the human condition. Honorees were chosen for several categories from various health care organizations across the Triangle. UNC Health Care/UNC School of Medicine led triangle health organizations with seven awards. Winners will be celebrated at an event in Cary March 14. Check out this slideshow of all winners.

William L. Roper, MD, MPH, interim president of the University of North Carolina System, was selected to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifelong commitment to public service through prevention of medical conditions and expansion of affordable, quality health care. As the CEO of UNC Health Care and Dean of the UNC School of Medicine for nearly 15 years, Dr. Roper helped transform the organization into the state’s leading academic medical institution, and one of the most highly regarded in the nation.

A. Wesley Burks, MD, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health Care, was selected as a top “innovator/researcher” for his work understanding the molecular basis for food allergies and developing a successful immunotherapy for peanut allergy. Burks, who is also the Curnen Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, spent more than 30 years taking care of patients and conducting research to help kids with severe allergies, culminating in the PALISADE clinical trial, which completed last year.

White Coats Black Doctors won a TBJ Health Care Hero for “community outreach.” UNC School of Medicine students founded the organization in 2014 and parlayed t-shirt sales into a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in medical education.

Li Qian, PhD, associate professor of laboratory medicine and associate director of the McAllister Heart Institute, won a TBJ award in the “rising star” category. Qian’s fast rise in the research world is due to her lab’s incredible research to change heart scar tissue back into health heart muscle after people have heart attacks.

Sameer Arora, MD, a research fellow in the division of cardiology in the department of medicine, was also selected as a “rising star” for his work identifying racial disparities in treatment for a specific type of heart attack. Arora, who is also a preventive medicine resident in the department of family medicine, authored a recent paper on the increase in heart attacks among 35 to 54 year olds, especially women.

Chirag Desai, MD, associate professor of surgery and director of the Chronic Pancreatitis and Autologous Islet Cell Transplant Program, was selected for a TBJ award in the “physician” category for establishing a first-in-North Carolina procedure to help patients with chronic and recurrent pancreatitis and his empathetic approach to patient care.

Anna Soloway, clinic nurse at the UNC Medical Center, won a TBJ award in the “nurse” category for compassionate expert care of patients and for making significant contributions to the development of professional practice, especially the creation of guidelines that empower medical staff to effectively support patients with underlying psychiatric needs.

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