Diversity Awards Honor Faculty, Resident, Student

At the second annual Dr. Kenneth A. Forde Diversity Alliance Reception on Nov. 11, longtime faculty member Gerald E. Thomson, MD, the Samuel Lambert and Robert Sonneborn Professor Emeritus of Medicine, received the inaugural Kenneth A. Forde Diversity Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award.

Another faculty member, a hospital resident, and a P&S student also received diversity awards at the event.

The Kenneth A. Forde Diversity Alliance was created in 2014 for minority medical students, resident physicians, fellows, graduate students, faculty, and research scientists at Columbia University Medical Center. Its goal is to recruit and retain a diverse community, provide networking events, foster and maintain an environment that supports a diverse community, raise awareness about diversity, support pipeline programs, and provide career and leadership development through mentoring. The alliance is named for Dr. Forde, a 1959 P&S graduate and longtime faculty member. Dr. Forde, the José M. Ferrer Professor Emeritus of Clinical Surgery and a Columbia University Trustee, made remarks at the reception.

Dr. Thomson graduated from Howard University’s medical school then trained at SUNY Downstate Medical Center where, in 1965, he established and directed one of the nation’s first and largest dialysis units for the treatment of end-stage renal disease. He was recruited to Columbia in 1970 to begin a dialysis program at Harlem Hospital Center. He was director of medicine at Harlem Hospital Center from 1971 to 1985.

Dr. Thomson later served as executive vice president for professional affairs and chief of staff at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and president of the hospital’s Ambulatory Care Network of community primary care centers in upper Manhattan.

As senior associate dean at P&S and head of the Office of Minority Affairs (now the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs), Dr. Thomson launched programs to recruit, support, and advise underrepresented minority students at P&S. He also visited and counseled hundreds of minority premedical students at New York City colleges. He received an honorary MD degree from P&S in 1996.