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For Release: January 29, 2013
Contact: Derik Hertel, 603-650-1211 or

Dr. Joe O'Donnell Honored with Inaugural Dartmouth Social Justice Award

Joseph O'Donnell, MD

Hanover, N.H.—Joseph O'Donnell, MD, professor of medicine and psychiatry at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine, will be honored with the inaugural Holly Fell Sateia Award on Friday, Feb. 1 as part of the college's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Social Justice Awards.

O'Donnell is the co-founder of the Dartmouth Center on Addiction, Recovery and Education. As a professor of medicine at Dartmouth since 1978, O'Donnell is known to his students as a passionate mentor. In his research, O'Donnell addresses issues of substance abuse, obesity, and how to promote healthy lifestyles.

The Holly Fell Sateia Award was established by former Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim and then-Provost Carol Folt in 2011 to honor the legacy of Holly Fell Sateia MALS'82, Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity, Emerita, and to recognize diversity as a vibrant part of Dartmouth's mission. This award recognizes a faculty or staff member at Dartmouth who is "an enthusiastic and effective leader in advancing diversity and community."

"Joe's leadership and passion for diversity in medical education continues to touch many lives and has pushed us to be a better medical school," said Wiley "Chip" Souba, MD, ScD, MBA, dean of the Geisel School of Medicine vice president for health affairs at Dartmouth. "We're proud that Joe's work to address health and social inequities is being recognized with this special award from Dartmouth."

Biography: Dr. Joe O'Donnell (MED'71)
O'Donnell was born in Boston in 1947, and attended Boston Latin School and Harvard College, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1969. He was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1969, he first arrived in Hanover to attend Dartmouth Medical School, then a two-year program, and that two-year experience transformed him. He became a strong advocate for Dartmouth's culture of caring, community of learning, and emphasis on mentoring and professional growth.

He returned to Harvard to finish his MD degree in 1973, but then came back to Dartmouth's Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital to do his medical training in Internal Medicine. Under the mentorship of Norris Cotton Cancer Center icons Herb Maurer and O. Ross McIntyre, O'Donnell entered the field of oncology and trained at the National Cancer Institute.

O'Donnell returned again to Dartmouth to assume the position of Chief of Oncology at the affiliated White River Junction VA Hospital. In 1985, Dean Robert McCollum asked him to join the Dean's Office as Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, and he has served in the Dean's Office since. His passion has been to connect students to service opportunities locally, regionally, and globally and to pair these experiences with opportunities to reflect, using the arts and literature as a means to foster moral growth.

He has been especially interested in the doctor-patient relationship, prevention, communication, service and advocacy, eliminating disparities and promoting health equity, compassion in medicine, moral and professional formation in physicians, and creating an optimal environment for learning. He helped found the medical school's Community Service Committee, the Dartmouth chapter of Physicians for Human Rights, the school's international programs in Kosovo, its Urban Scholars program, and its chapter of the Gold Humanism in Medicine Honor Society.

O'Donnell also helped found, and now leads, the NH-VT Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Program. He serves on the boards of the Harvard-Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation (now devoted to the control of childhood obesity) and the AVA Gallery in the Upper Valley.

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop named O'Donnell as his successor as the Senior Scholar of the C. Everett Koop Institute. In that capacity, he is working tirelessly to address health disparities, understand cross-cultural opportunities, bridge the fields of public health and medicine, prepare students as advocates for health, and use education to help reshape our healthcare system. Former Dartmouth President James O. Freedman called O'Donnell the "Soul of Dartmouth Medical School."

Click here for the full list of 2013 Dartmouth Social Justice Award Honorees.

The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, founded in 1797, strives to improve the lives of the communities it serves through excellence in learning, discovery, and healing. The nation's fourth-oldest medical school, the Geisel School of Medicine has been home to many firsts in medical education, research, and practice, including the discovery of the mechanism for how light resets biological clocks, the first multispecialty intensive care unit, the first comprehensive examination of U.S. health care cost variations (The Dartmouth Atlas), and helping establish the first Center for Health Care Delivery Science, which launched in 2010. As one of America's top medical schools, Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine is committed to training new generations of diverse health care leaders who will help solve our most vexing challenges in health care.

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