Aaron Baer Receives Esther Tsai Sugg Award

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Aaron Baer

Aaron Baer, a second-year medical student in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has received the inaugural Esther Tsai Sugg Award from the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons (SAAS). Baer received the award for having the highest scoring abstract submitted to the Academic Surgical Congress (ASC) as a first author. The abstract, entitled “Alterations in Muscle Mass during Neoadjuvant Chemoradiation and Operative Outcomes for Rectal Cancer,” was led by SAAS member and senior author, David Shibata, MD, FACS, FASCRS, professor and chair of the UTHSC Department of Surgery.

“Research, like clinical medicine, is a team effort, with the goal of gaining insight to better the care our patients receive,” Baer said. “This recognition encourages future doctors like me to continue working to solve challenges and eliminate barriers to better and more compassionate care for our patients.”

The abstract scored in the top 1 percent of abstracts submitted to the ASC out of 1,663 entries and was awarded a plenary talk, as well as a top 10 score for abstracts submitted with a medical student as first author. Baer will be giving a second talk to compete with the other nine entries for the best overall abstract.

According to the SAAS, the Esther Tsai Sugg Award was established and endowed by Sonia Sugg, MD, professor of surgery at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine. The award, named for Dr. Sugg’s mother, provides a plaque and a cash prize for the recipient and will be given out annually.

“The Esther Tsai Sugg Award embodies the dedication to health and education that was Esther Sugg’s life. She completed her education in social work despite significant adversity as a woman in China during the 1940s, went on to train future students in social work in Hong Kong, and finished her career in Hawaii working with Hansen’s Disease patients in the infamous Kalaupapa colony on Molokai,” Baer said. “These are all qualities that future doctors strive to achieve: overcoming adversity, being excellent teachers to our patients and students, and being compassionate in our care to all patients. This is what The Esther Tsai Sugg Award stands for, and I am proud and honored that our team was recognized for having these traits.”