Dzau Receives Ellis Island Medal of Honor
DURHAM, N.C. -- Victor J. Dzau, M.D., chancellor for health
affairs at Duke University and president and CEO of the Duke
University Health System, has been selected as one of this
year's recipients of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Dzau, a
physician-scientist specializing in cardiovascular disease,
will receive the award Saturday, May 14, at a ceremony on Ellis
The awards are given annually by the National Ethnic
Coalition of Organizations (NECO) to recognize distinguished
Americans of various ethnic origins for their outstanding
contributions to the United States. Past recipients include six
U.S. presidents, Nobel laureates and leaders in the arts,
science, education, law and business.
"Dr. Dzau's journey from young immigrant to leader of one of
America's top academic medical centers is remarkable," said
William D. Fugazy, co-chairman of NECO's board of directors.
"Equally inspiring is how he has consistently used his
achievements in medicine as a platform to address global health
issues and inequalities that are so often linked to social and
Dzau said he is "deeply honored" to be recognized by the
NECO. "This group's stated purpose is to promote values such as
ethnic and religious equality, tolerance and harmony," he
noted. "These social values are some of the basic underpinnings
that are necessary in order for our society to achieve broader
goals in the area of global health."
Dzau was born in Shanghai, China, and spent his formative
years in Hong Kong, where he first developed an interest in
medicine. He earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at
McGill University in Montreal before entering to the United
States to begin his internship at New York Hospital. He then
entered his residency at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and
Harvard Medical School and went on to serve first as chief of
cardiology at Stanford University School of Medicine and later
as chair of medicine there before returning to Harvard Medical
School. He was granted U.S. citizenship in 1996.
Dzau served as Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice
of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and as chairman of the
Department of Medicine at the Brigham and Women's Hospital.
There he helped establish Brigham and Women's Division of
Social Medicine and Health Inequalities, an organization that
continues to address his concern about access to health care
for the economically disadvantaged.
Shortly after joining Duke last July, Dzau and Duke
University Provost Peter Lange were asked by President Richard
H. Brodhead to lead a university-wide effort to develop a new
global health initiative. The goal is to identify ways in which
the university can foster and coordinate efforts among various
disciplines toward the objective of improving global
"I believe that universities and academic medical centers
can be major players in global health because we have vast
resources of knowledge, and a vast company of people who have
compassion and a desire to serve," Dzau said. "Our question now
is how to nudge what is already in place among individuals and
departments and schools to make an impact in a coordinated
manner at a larger level. How do we galvanize our strengths to
create the most effective contribution?"
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NECO is an umbrella group for more than 200 ethnic
organizations. Its mandate is to preserve ethnic diversity;
promote ethnic and religious equality, tolerance and harmony;
and to combat injustice, hatred, and bigotry. Ellis Island
Medal of Honor recipients are selected each year through a
national nomination process. Screening committees from NECO's
member organizations select the final nominees, who are then
considered by NECO's Board of Directors.