Massachusetts Medical Society honors UMMS faculty

Arthur Pappas, MD, receives lifetime achievement award

By Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

May 23, 2011
Arthur Pappas 
   Arthur M. Pappas, MD

UMass Medical School was proudly represented at the Massachusetts Medical Society’s annual meeting on May 20, where three faculty members and two students received awards and honors. A fourth faculty member was honored in late April at the society’s Annual Public Health Forum.

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS), with nearly 23,000 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.

Lifetime Achievement Award 

Arthur M. Pappas, MD, chair emeritus and professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the highest awards given each year “to a member of the society who has made a lasting contribution to the practice of medicine over a lifetime and who has made significant contributions to the goals of the society.” 

Dr. Pappas, who currently serves as vice president for affiliate relations for UMass Memorial Health Care and chairman of the board of Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital in Worcester, has a long and distinguished career as a leader in many areas of medicine, among them orthopedics, academics, child advocacy and philanthropy. 

Recruited by founding Dean Lamar Soutter in 1971, Pappas has been a driving force in the success of the Medical School throughout his career. He is fondly described as “the first UMMS surgeon,” having admitted and operated on the first patient in 1976 at what was then UMass Hospital. 

He is the founding chair of the Department of Orthopedics at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and over five decades has brought his skills as an orthopedic surgeon to Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital as well as UMass. From 1978 to 2004 was the medical director for the Boston Red Sox.

Grant V. Rodkey Award

Michele P. Pugnaire, MD, senior associate dean for educational affairs and professor of family medicine & community health, received the Grant V. Rodkey Award, an annual honor that recognizes a Massachusetts physician for outstanding contributions to medical education and medical students. 

In nominating her for the honor, colleagues and students described Dr. Pugnaire as “the quintessential educator, completely dedicated to the education and professional growth of our students who benefit enormously from her,” and as a “beloved faculty member whose passion for shaping the future generation of medical professionals permeates her daily activities.” 

Award for Distinguished Service to the Massachusetts Medical Society 

William G. Lavelle, MD, chair and professor of otolaryngology, received the Award for Distinguished Service to the Massachusetts Medical Society, which recognizes his demonstrated commitment to the goals of the Medical Society through leadership and committee work. 

Dr. Lavelle has been a member of the Medical Society since 1974 and his record of exemplary service to the organization spans more than three decades. He was the society’s first speaker of the House of Delegates and served successive terms as vice president, president-elect and president. Among his many committee memberships, he has served as vice chair and chair of the Committee on Publications for the New England Journal of Medicine, a member of the board of directors of the Charitable and Educational Fund, and a member of the Committees on Finance and Long-Range Planning. 

Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health

Joseph R. DiFranza, MD, professor of family medicine & community health, received the Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health, presented last month at the society’s Annual Public Health Forum. Named after a leading figure in medicine and public health in the 19th century, the award recognizes a Massachusetts physician who demonstrates creativity, commendable citizenship, initiative, innovation and leadership in the public health and advocacy fields. 

Dr. DiFranza was recognized for his years of research, advocacy and activism in anti-tobacco efforts for children. His research in the early 1990s, documenting that laws prohibiting tobacco sales to minors were being ignored, led to a federal mandate that states adopt and enforce laws prohibiting tobacco sales to minors. His development of the Hooked on Nicotine Checklist, which he has distributed free of charge and which has been translated into 18 languages, assists physicians in identifying the onset of nicotine dependence. And he has been a strong advocate against the marketing of tobacco to children, organizing physicians around the country to study the impact of tobacco advertising on children. 

Massachusetts Medical Society Scholars 

Graduating medical students Diana Robillard and Stephanie Ruest received Society Scholars Awards, presented annually to fourth-year medical school students who demonstrate excellent academic performance, community involvement and financial need. Each honoree receives a $10,000 scholarship. Since the inception of the program in 1993, MMS Scholar Awards totaling $1,280,000 have been presented to 128 medical school students. 

New MMS officers 

Also at the annual meeting, Lynda Young, MD, clinical professor of pediatrics and chief of the community pediatrics division at UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, and Richard Aghababian, MD, professor of emergency medicine were elected to leadership. Dr. Young will serve as president and Dr. Aghababian will serve as president-elect. 

For more information about the Massachusetts Medical Society, visit, or