Richard D. Wood Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is named for Richard D. Wood, Sr., who served as a member of CHOP’s Board of Trustees for 45 years.

When Children’s Hospital was incorporated in 1858 — three years after its founding — the name G.A. Wood was among the signers. Thus began a family tradition of service to the nation’s first children’s hospital.

Richard D. Wood, Sr., a descendant of G.A. Wood, became the first president of Children’s Hospital. He joined the board in 1950 and played a key role in the Hospital’s development into one of the finest pediatric medical centers in the nation and the world.

Long active in children’s healthcare on a national level, Wood served on the board of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions, Inc. and created the association’s “Study to Determine the Uniqueness of Children’s Hospitals.”

In June 1989, Children’s Hospital’s new pediatric ambulatory care center was dedicated in honor of Richard D. Wood, Sr., and the facility has become known as the Wood Center.

Today, Richard D. Wood, Jr. is an Emeritus Trustee and carries forth the Wood family’s commitment to the health and well-being of children.

Each year, the Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to an alumnus with significant medical and scientific achievements that distinguish the alumnus from his or her peers.

2021 Winner

Paul A. Offit, MD Paul A. Offit, MD, is mission-driven to not only create life-saving vaccines — he’s the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq® — but to also ensure that research-informed, accurate and trustworthy information on vaccines is available for the medical community and broader audiences as well. The Vaccine Education Center (VEC) was founded to achieve this latter goal.

Dr. Offit’s expertise has been front and center during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a current member of the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, he has been actively involved in determining the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines. Further, he had become an objective, trusted voice to explain how the vaccines work, the science behind their safety and what people can expect when they receive theirs. He has been interviewed thousands of times by major television outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, BBC and CNBC, and for publications from all over the country — and the world — including the United Kingdom, India, Turkey and New Zealand. Altogether, he has been featured nearly 17,000 times since April 2020. He has also given numerous virtual lectures to professionals that have been seen by hundreds of viewers, with more viewing the archived versions daily.

The VEC website,, has seen a spike during the pandemic to more than 2.7 million sessions and 3.5 million page views, while it continued to offer comprehensive information to families, professionals and educators on all available vaccines for all ages.

Dr. Offit’s work has been recognized worldwide. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For Dr. Offit’s work on RotaTeq, recommended for universal use in infants by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2006 and by the World Health Organization in 2013, he received the Luigi Mastroianni and William Osler Awards from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the Charles Mérieux Award from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases; and was honored by Bill and Melinda Gates during the launch of their Foundation’s Living Proof Project for global health.

Dr. Offit is a recipient of numerous other awards including the President’s Certificate for Outstanding Service from the American Academy of Pediatrics (2009); the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Biologics Industry Organization (2011); the Maxwell Finland award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (2013); the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Pennsylvania (2015); the Franklin Founder Award from the city of Philadelphia (2016); the Jonathan E. Rhoads Medal for Distinguished Service to Medicine from the American Philosophical Society (2016); and the Gold Medal from the Sabin Vaccine Institute (2018).

In addition to having written hundreds of medical journal articles, Dr. Offit is the author of nine medical narratives, which have received numerous accolades:

  • The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to Today’s Growing Vaccine Crisis (Yale University Press, 2005)
  • Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases (HarperCollins, 2007), for which he won an award from the American Medical Writers Association
  • Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure (Columbia University Press, 2008)
  • Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All (Basic Books, 2011), which was selected by Kirkus Reviews and Booklist as one of the best non-fiction books of the year
  • Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (HarperCollins, 2013), which won the Robert P. Balles Prize in Critical Thinking from the Center for Skeptical Inquiry and was selected by National Public Radio as one of the best books of 2013
  • Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Clashes with Modern Medicine (Basic Books, 2015), which was an Editor’s Choice book by the New York Times Book Review.
  • Bad Advice: Or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information (Columbia University Press, 2018)
  • Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far (HarperCollins, April 2020)
  • You Bet Your Life: From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccinations— The Long and Risky History of Medical Innovations (Basic Books, in press)

Past Awardees

2020 — Linton A. Whitaker, MD
2019 — N. Scott Adzick, MD
2018 — Alan Cohen, MD
2017 — James A. Katowitz, MD
2016 — Stephen Ludwig, MD
2015 — Elaine H. Zackai, MD
2014 — Robert A. Zimmerman, MD
2013 — James O’Neill, MD
2012 — Anna Meadows, MD
2011 — Guilio D’Angio, MD
2010 — Shirley Bonnem
2009 — Walter J. Gamble, MD
2008 — Lucy B. Rorke-Adams, MD
2007 — Balu H. Athreya, MD
2006 — John J. Downes, MD
2005 — Gary R. Fleisher, MD
2004 — James A. Stockman III, MD
2003 — Audrey E. Evans, MD
2002 — C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD
2001 — Stanley A. Plotkin, MD
2000 — Patrick S. Pasquariello, Jr., MD
1999 — No award granted
1998 — No award granted
1997 — Louise Schnaufer, MD
1996 — Sidney Friedman, MD
1995 — Patricia F. Borns, MD
1994 — No award granted
1993 — Leonard Bachman, MD
1992 — Robert Kaye, M
1991 — Albert W. Kitts, MD
1990 — Dale G. Johnson, MD
1989 — T. F. McNair Scott, MD
1988 — Richard D. Wood, Sr.

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