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Release: June 7, 2000

UI College of Medicine to honor seven at Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa College of Medicine will honor seven alumni for outstanding service and achievements with Distinguished Alumni Awards at an awards ceremony June 9.

James Clifton, M.D.; George Counts, M.D.; Helen Hislop, Ph.D.; and John Opitz, M.D. will each receive the college's Award for Achievement, which honors alumni for significant accomplishments in science and medicine.

Richard D. Cameron, M.D.; Johan Hultin, M.D.; and John Sunderbruch, M.D. will receive the Award for Service, presented to alumni for meritorious service to their community, state or nation.

Clifton came to the UI College of Medicine in 1947 for his residency training after earning his medical degree at Vanderbilt University. Two years after completing his residency, Clifton became the first director of the college's gastroenterology division, which would become recognized as one of the premier GI programs in the country.

He served as chairman of the UI department of internal medicine from 1970 to 1976 and as interim dean of the UI College of Medicine from 1991 to 1993. Clifton is currently Roy J. Carver Professor Emeritus and lives in Iowa City.

Counts has been a clinician, educator, microbiologist and senior administrator since graduating from the College of Medicine in 1965. He is an internationally recognized leader in hospital infectious disease control, minority and women's health issues and AIDS.

A recipient of numerous professional and service awards, he has received some of the highest honors given by the U.S. Public Health Service and the National Institutes of Health. Counts recently accepted a new position as assistant director for syphilis elimination activities, Division of STD Prevention, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Hislop graduated from Central College in Pella before earning her physical therapy certificate in the College of Medicine in 1951, her master's degree in 1953, and her doctorate in 1960. She served as chair of the biokinesiology and physical therapy department at the University of Southern California for 28 years. During that time she organized the nation's first Ph.D. program in physical therapy and established a model two-year clinical specialist program.

Recognized for her scholarly writings, she has served as editor of professional publications, including the Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association. Hislop is recipient of the two highest awards given by the association. Now retired and residing in Durham, N.C., Hislop is a consultant and a graduation speaker.

Opitz, a native of Hamburg, Germany and a former student at Iowa City public schools, began his education at the UI as a 15-year-old research assistant for a zoology professor. He received a bachelor's degree from the UI in 1956 and his medical degree in 1959. Today he is one of the world’s preeminent clinical dysmorphologists and birth defects experts.

Opitz is thought to have described and discovered more syndromes and genetic diseases than any other person. The American Journal of Medical Genetics, of which he is a founder and editor, is a highly respected journal in the field. Opitz is professor of pediatrics, human genetics and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Cameron, a major general, has more than 30 years of decorated service in the Army Medical Corps, followed by a civilian career as a leader in executive medicine. He received a bachelor's degree at the UI in 1961 and a medical degree from the College of Medicine in 1965.

He commanded two of the well-known military medical centers in the nation, William Beaumont and Walter Reed. He led Walter Reed during the Persian Gulf War, a time of expansion and mobilization of medical reserve forces. Cameron is currently the chief administrative officer of the Harbor View Psychiatric Hospital in Fort Smith, Ark.

Hultin, originally from Sweden, received his master's degree in microbiology at the
UI in 1951 and his medical degree from the College of Medicine in 1953. He was a practicing pathologist in several hospitals and laboratories in California until his retirement in 1988. Hultin gained national recognition for what he did after retirement.

At his own expense he organized the exhumation of lung tissue samples in Alaska from victims of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. This enabled the identification of the mechanism behind such a virus, allowing scientists to prevent similar epidemics. Hultin is renowned as a mountain climber and skier of the world's tallest peaks, and he has interests in archeology and architecture.

Sunderbruch received his medical degree from the College of Medicine in 1934. He was a founder of the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care (IFMC) and served as its first president. Under his leadership, the IFMC was designated by the U.S. Congress as the Professional Standards Review Organization for the state of Iowa. He has also held nearly every leadership position in both the Iowa Medical Society and the IFMC.

He is active in his community of Davenport and has been honored by the Catholic Church, Iowa High School Athletic Association, Davenport Chamber of Commerce, Assumption High School, St. Ambrose University and others.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.