News

3.27.2012

John G. Clarkson, M.D., Receives National Physician of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award

The Miller School’s John G. Clarkson, M.D., dean emeritus and professor of ophthalmology, is the recipient of the 2012 National Physician of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award conferred by the publishers of America’s Top Doctors.

The award, presented at the seventh annual Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. National Physician of the Year Awards ceremony in New York City on March 26, recognizes Clarkson for his lifelong dedication to research and practice in the field of ophthalmology.

Clarkson, whose many achievements were highlighted in a video shown at the ceremony, said he was both surprised and humbled by his selection. “I have been most fortunate to work with wonderful mentors and colleagues at the University of Miami,” he said. “I view this recognition as a reflection of organizational, not personal, achievement.”

Before his appointment as Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the medical school in November 1995, Clarkson was director of UM’s nationally acclaimed Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology for five years. Currently, he is the executive director of the American Board of Ophthalmology and an internationally recognized vitreo-retinal specialist, researcher and administrator.

Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., who succeeded Clarkson as Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean in 2006, said Clarkson’s leadership has left an indelible mark at the Miller School, in medical education and in the field of ophthalmology.

“Spanning the four decades of his career, John Clarkson’s contributions to medicine, health care and medical education are notable and lasting,” Dean Goldschmidt said. “He not only transformed this campus, he implemented one of the first problem-based learning curricula in the nation, transforming how medicine is taught. As a researcher, he clarified the natural course of retinal vein occlusion and the benefits of laser treatments. And under his leadership, Bascom Palmer emerged as the No. 1 eye hospital in the nation.”

During his 11-year tenure as dean, Clarkson recruited significant research and academic talent to the University and presided over dramatic annual growth in the research enterprise. He established Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the Palm Beaches – the institute’s first off-campus center – in 1996 and led the physical transformation of the medical campus, creating the Schoninger Research Quadrangle through the completion of the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute and the Lois Pope LIFE Center for neuroscience research.

Due in large measure to his oversight and vision, the Clinical Research Building and Medical Wellness Center also were completed.

Clarkson led the planning, development and implementation of the medical school’s largest capital campaign, culminating in the December 2004 announcement of the historic $100 million gift from the family of the late Miami developer Leonard M. Miller. The medical school was renamed in Miller’s honor.

In addition to Bascom Palmer, other internationally known centers of excellence grew significantly under Clarkson’s leadership, including the Diabetes Research Institute, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, and the Michael S. Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education. The Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Center for Medical Genetics, which preceded The Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics, and the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital Center for Patient Safety, also were established under his leadership.

The University of Miami Medical Group, the faculty medical practice, became a consolidated, competitive clinical operation, with a new focus on improved access and customer service, under his stewardship. He worked in many other ways to raise the medical school’s profile as a community partner, including serving as a leader on the Mayor’s Healthcare Task Force and several community boards. He also presided over the redesign of the medical curriculum and guided the growing emphasis on the recruitment of out-of-state medical students to raise the school’s national stature.

Clarkson currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife Diana and continues to see patients at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami.

Also receiving Castle Connolly’s National Lifetime Achievement Award this year was Robert L. Brent, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., of Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

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