2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients



Christina Gurnett
98MD, 98PhD – Physiology and Biophysics, 00R – Pediatrics

Christina Gurnett is a triple-threat as a scholar, teacher, and physician in the Department of Neurology at Washington University in St. Louis. A genetics expert, she has made significant advances in the study of epilepsy, clubfoot, and scoliosis. Gurnett co-founded the Washington University in St. Louis Pediatric Musculoskeletal DNA Databank, which focuses on collecting DNA from patients with pediatric musculoskeletal disorders. Gurnett has published prolifically, with 71 peer-reviewed papers, and she has received steady research funding for her work. Gurnett continues to see patients in the clinic and on the wards, and she has served as a mentor to graduate students, residents, undergraduates, and postdoctoral fellows.


C. William Hanke
66BS, 71MD

One health care industry publication called C. William Hanke a “dermatologist’s dermatologist,” and the specialty would be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished representative. An outstanding leader, Hanke is the only dermatologist to serve as president of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the American College of Mohs Surgery, and the International Society for Dermatologic Surgery. He has received the highest honorary award from each organization. As a faculty member at Indiana University School of Medicine, he achieved the rank of professor of dermatology, pathology and otolaryngology after only eight years. Hanke has been a clinical investigator on several clinical research trials and has made over 400 contributions to medical literature, including 26 books.


J. Antonio G. Lopez
90F – Internal Medicine

Whether in an academic environment, clinical setting, or private practice, J. Antonio G. Lopez has been a model of leadership and integrity. In a career that has taken him all over the United States, Lopez developed special expertise and recognition in the pathogenesis and treatment of cholesterol and lipid disorders, which built on his research training while in private practice in cardiology. In 2014, he became medical director (cardiovascular) at the multinational biopharmaceutical company Amgen, with responsibility for a breakthrough new drug (called a PCSK9 inhibitor) that reduces LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol) to a level previously thought to be unattainable.


Tristram Parslow
83MD, 83 PhD – Biochemistry

Tristram Parslow has excelled in every aspect of his career—as a researcher, teacher, and department leader. His early work at the University of Iowa on immunoglobulin gene expression addressed issues that stumped Nobel laureates and National Academy of Sciences members. While on the pathology department faculty at the University of California, San Francisco at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Parslow engaged in a series of studies of the molecular virology of HIV and other RNA viruses, including influenza. In the 14 years since Parslow joined Emory University as chair of the Department of Pathology, their annual National Institutes of Health funding has grown from $12 million to $34 million. He continues to lead and mentor others in the field, both at Emory and as president of the Association of Pathology Chairs.

Achievement and Service

Rana Dajani
05PhD – Molecular Biology

Rana Dajani believes in taking the road less traveled. It’s a path that has led her to staggering academic and research accomplishments. An Eisenhower Fellow and twice a Fulbright scholar, her lab at Hashemite University in Jordan is considered a world expert on the genetics of Circassian and Chechan populations in Jordan, focusing on diabetes and cancer. But she does not rest on this accomplishment. Dajani cares passionately about improving her community and creating opportunity for the next generation. Her “We Love Reading” initiative nurtures a culture of literacy in Jordan and the wider Arab world. The program establishes neighborhood libraries, hosts storytelling sessions, and trains community women to read aloud to young children.

Basem Dajani
70R – Internal Medicine

Jordan’s medical professionals are among the very best in the Middle East because of Basem M. Dajani. For decades, he has worked to improve medical education and quality of care in his country. In 1977, Dajani revolutionized the internal medicine residency program as well as the hospital at the University of Jordan by introducing rounds, morning report, peer review, grand rounds, mortality-morbidity rounds, and quality control, among other improvements.  He also created the intensive care unit at the hospital. By founding the Jordan Medical Board, Dajani single-handedly implemented standards to ensure high-quality medical care where none existed before. Dajani firmly believes the underserved deserve the same excellent quality of care as the most affluent patients.

Early Career Achievement

Official White House Photo by Stephanie Chasez

Sara Brenner

Technology has rapidly accelerated the pace of change in medicine, and Sara Brenner has positioned herself on the cutting edge. Brenner’s research focuses on developing nanomedicine applications, and on the health and safety of people and the environment as they relate to engineered nanomaterials. Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique biological, chemical, and physical properties emerge. As the first physician on faculty at the State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), she brings a distinctive perspective to the emerging opportunities and challenges in occupational and environmental health and safety.

Educational Excellence

J. Kevin Dorsey
81R, 83F - Internal Medicine

The word “doctor” is derived from the Latin word docere, which means “to teach.” For several decades, J. Kevin Dorsey has been committed to educational improvements, with notable accomplishments in care practices and community service as well as in academic medicine. Dorsey has served in key roles in academic medicine since completing his residency and fellowship at the University of Iowa, including as dean and provost of the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine, from which he retired in 2015. He currently maintains a teaching position at the SIU medical school and serves as acting chief of the rheumatology division. Students and faculty have recognized him with many citations and awards for his sustaining and remarkable instructional contributions.


Patricia Winokur
88R, 91F - Internal Medicine

As executive dean of the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, Patricia Winokur plays a key leadership role in leading efforts that shape the academic medicine mission of research, education, and patient care. Over the course of her distinguished career, she has served the college and university as interim associate dean for research, associate dean for clinical and translational science, and as a board member for the UI Research Foundation. A nationally recognized leader in the field of infectious diseases, Winokur created the UI Vaccine and Evaluation Unit, one of the leading vaccine research programs in the country and one of only nine in the nation funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Awards will be presented Friday, April 27, 2018 in Iowa City. For more information, please contact UI Health Care Collegiate and Community Relations at 319-335-8886.