Michael Hirsh, John Riordan and Oscar Starobin recognized; students Kara Keating Bench, Ciarán DellaFera, Stephanie Galica and Hannah Melnitsky receive awards; Richard Aghababian, Lynda Young and Richard Pieters elected to MMS leadership roles

May 13, 2010

The University of Massachusetts Medical School was proudly represented at the Massachusetts Medical Society’s annual meeting, where four students and four faculty received awards and honors and two faculty were elected to MMS leadership roles.

The Massachusetts Medical Society, with more than 22,000 physicians and student members, publishes the New England Journal of Medicine and is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. MMS awards are significant and coveted among medical professionals and students across the commonwealth.

“There are few things as satisfying as seeing our faculty and students recognized by an esteemed organization like the Massachusetts Medical Society." said Terence R. Flotte, MD, Executive Deputy Chancellor and Provost and Dean of the School of Medicine. "I was truly delighted to hear UMass Medical School called out from the podium over and over, and to join colleagues from across the state in applauding our faculty and students as they received these much-deserved awards and honors.”

Michael Hirsh: Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health
Michael P. Hirsh, MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics, was honored with the 2010 Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health, an award named for a leading figure in 19th century medicine and public health who championed the cause of the poor and oppressed. The award recognizes a Massachusetts physician who demonstrates creativity, commendable citizenship, initiative, innovation and leadership in the public health and advocacy fields.

Chief of pediatric surgery and trauma, surgeon-in-chief and associate director of the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, Dr. Hirsh has long been active in public health and safety. He is the founding director and current president of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Worcester, established in 2002 to improve the safety of children in Central Massachusetts. He is also the first elected president of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, a national coalition of 41 sites across the country led by physicians whose mission is to prevent injuries to children. Hirsh is currently the Vice President and Secretary of the Worcester District Medical Society and serves on the organization’s legislative and public health committees.

Hirsh has received a number of medical and professional honors in his career. He is the 2006 recipient of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award and a four-time recipient of the Outstanding Medical Educator Award from UMMS. In 2003, the Massachusetts Medical Society honored him with its Grant V. Rodkey Award for outstanding contributions to medical education and medical students.

John Riordan: Senior Volunteer Physician Award
John A. Riordan, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, received the 2010 Senior Volunteer Physician Award, an honor recognizing a senior member of the society who has a dedicated commitment to volunteerism and to sharing experience and medical expertise.

Dr. Riordan first began his practice of pediatrics in Worcester in 1956, the year he became a member of the MMS. He then joined the Fallon Clinic, where he worked for 30 years. Since his retirement in 1995, he has volunteered at the St. Anne’s Free Clinic in Shrewsbury, Our Lady of Providence Free Clinic at St. Bernard’s Church and the Green Island Medical Clinic before it closed. Riordan volunteers several hours each week and sees some 150 patients each year. His primary activities include attending to pediatric patients for school physicals, immunizations and sick visits.

Oscar Starobin: Grant V. Rodkey Award
Oscar E. Starobin, MD, professor of medicine, received the 2010 Grant V. Rodkey Award, an honor recognizing a Massachusetts physician for outstanding contributions to medical education and medical students. A native and lifelong resident of Worcester, Starobin has been a distinguished medical educator for more than four decades. He is director of the Adult Congenital Heart Program, director of the Cardiac Fellows Clinics, and former director of clinical cardiology at UMass Memorial Medical Center. He is also a clinical associate in medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He has taught cardiovascular medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital since 1960 and has taught internal and cardiovascular medicine at UMMS since it was founded.

A Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American College of Cardiology, and the Heart Rhythm Society, Starobin has received a number of honors for his medical education activities from UMMS. He was honored nine times with the Outstanding Medical Educator Award and three times with the Teacher of the Year Award, and he received the Lamar Soutter Award in 2001 for Career Achievement in Medical Education.

Kara Keating Bench, MPH: Committee on History Essay Award
Second-year student Kara Keating Bench, MPH, received the 2010 Committee on History Essay Award, which honors the best original independently researched essay focused on medical and/or social issues associated with MMS (1781 to present) that have improved the public’s health and access to medical care. Keating Bench's paper, "Roots of Reform: The Shattuck Report and Massachusetts Health Care Reform" analyzed Lemuel Shattuck's seminal 1850 "Report of the Sanitation Committee of Massachusetts" as a framework for understanding the roots of MMS's work in health advocacy and its work in advocating for Massachusetts health care reform. The award is accompanied by a $1,000 prize.

Keating Bench, who received her master's degree in public health, health policy and management in the global health track from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and a bachelor of arts in history and faith, peace and justice from Boston College, has extensive experience in global health in developing nations. She has lived and worked in Haiti supporting the monitoring and evaluation of child survival programs; in the Dominican Republic conducting chronic disease risk factor surveillance; in Zambia supporting a corporate volunteer program; and in South Africa volunteering in a township clinic.

Ciarán DellaFerra: Information Technology Award
Second-year student Ciarán A. DellaFera received the 2010 Information Technology Award for successfully creating and implementing an innovative teleradiology and image storage system for Hospital General El Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan) in La Romana, Dominican Republic. DellaFera, who was formerly an IBM Distinguished Engineer and had moonlighted as an emergency room technician, combined his engineering know-how and his insight into medical records keeping to help Good Samaritan overcome significant technological limitations. [See story]

Stephanie Galica and Hannah Melnitsky: Massachusetts Medical Society Scholars
Fourth-year students Stephanie Galica and Hannah Melnitsky were named 2010 Massachusetts Medical Society Scholars for “excellent academic performance, community involvement, and financial need.” MMS annually names two students from each of the state’s four medical schools, awarding each honoree a $10,000 scholarship.

Galica has been actively involved in the community and was a health teacher at the Juvenile Detention Center in Worcester, and an international volunteer in La Romana, Dominican Republic. She completed a summer internship at AIDS Project Worcester and was a mentor at the Home for Little Wanderers in Boston. She has also tutored adults and children in science at the Boston Training Institute’s Tutoring Program, Club-Z Tutoring in Brookline and the Science Elementary Education Partners in Somerville. A 2004 graduate of Tufts University with a degree in bio-psychology, Galica will begin her medicine/pediatrics residency at UMass Memorial Medical Center and hopes to focus on the health issues of children in foster.

Melnitsky earned two bachelor’s degrees in 2002 from the University of Massachusetts: a BS in biology summa cum laude and a BA in Spanish cum laude. She was a member of the University Scholars Program, the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society and the Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Beta Kappa Honor Societies, and was a recipient of a Howard Hughes Research Grant. She served in the Peace Corps in El Salvador, working on energy and community development projects and teaching and promoting health among women and children. Melnitsky was a member of the New England Rural Health Roundtable and served as the secretary and communications organizer for the Rural Medical Educators Student Caucus, promoting interest in rural health. Melnitsky intends to specialize in family medicine and pursue working with underserved populations; she will begin her residency at the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, in July.

Richard Aghababian and Lynda Young elected; Richard Pieters re-elected.
Lynda M. Young, MD, UMMS clinical professor of pediatrics and chief of the division of community pediatrics at UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, has been elected president-elect of MMS. Richard Aghababian, MD, professor of emergency medicine and associate dean of continuing medical education, was elected vice president. The two will serve one-year terms as two of the three top officers of the society.

In addition, Richard S. Pieters, MD, clinical associate professor of radiation on cology and pediatrics, was re-elected to a second term as speaker of the House of Delegates of the MMS, the organization’s legislative and policy-making body.

Dr. Young, who served the Society as vice president for the last year, and Dr. Aghababian, who served as secretary-treasurer for the last two years, have served as president of the Worcester District Medical Society, along with Dr. Pieters, who previously served as president of the Plymouth District Medical Society and as vice speaker of the MMS for three years, have long and distinguished records of service in organized medicine on the local, state, and national levels.

Community Clinician of the Year
On a related note, James B. (Jay) Broadhurst, MD, was named the 2010 Community Clinician of the Year by his physician peers of the 1,700-member Worcester District Medical Society, an award established in 1998 by the Massachusetts Medical Society to recognize a physician from each of its 20 district medical societies who has made significant contributions to patients and the community and who stands out as a leading advocate and caregiver. The award was presented at the Worcester District Medical Society Annual Business Meeting in April.

Dr. Broadhurst is associate director of the family practice residency and assistant professor of family medicine and community health. He is also associate director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship at the Fitchburg Family Practice Program, a staff physician at the Shrewsbury Family Practice of the UMass Memorial Medical Group, and medical director of Health Awareness Services of Central Massachusetts. He is also medical consultant to the Holy Cross Athletics Department and medical director of the UMass Memorial Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.

In selecting him for the honor, the Worcester District Medical Society said that “for more than two decades, Dr. Broadhurst has made significant contributions to patients and to our community, exhibiting a tireless service to public health and an active commitment to the profession of medicine. When you examine the substance of his contributions, you can only conclude that they have been essential in building a framework for physician involvement in the health of our community and that they have led to substantive improvement in the health of the people we serve.”

Active in organized medicine, Broadhurst is a member of the Board of Trustees and House of Delegates of the Massachusetts Medical Society and is chair of the Public Health Committee of the Worcester District Medical Society. The recipient of a number of honors and awards, including the Award of Excellence for Advocacy for Primary Care from UMMS, he was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians in 1989.

About the Massachusetts Medical Society
The Massachusetts Medical Society, with some 22,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and Journal Watch alerts and newsletters covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education for health care professionals throughout Massachusetts, conducting a variety of medical education programs for physicians and health care professionals. Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country. For more information please visit

About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of five campuses of the University system and one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country. It encompasses the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Graduate School of Nursing, a thriving research enterprise and an innovative public service initiative called Commonwealth Medicine. The mission of the University of Massachusetts Medical School is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the Commonwealth and the world through pioneering education, research, public service and health care delivery with its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care. Go to for more information.