The Legacy Award ~ Previous Recipients

Sexton Sutherland_Legacy Award

Class of 1982 Recognizes Sexton Sutherland, PhD with Legacy Award

Sexton Sutherland, PhD, never planned on becoming a teacher. But in 1972, he got a call from Jack DeGroot, MD, interim chair of the UCSF Department of Anatomy. DeGroot needed someone to teach the summer anatomy course, pronto. Now, 40 years later, Sutherland has earned the Academy's Legacy Award - bestowed upon him by the Class of 1982 at the Medical Alumni Association Awards Luncheon in April 2012.

"Anatomy is a class you take right at the beginning of medical school, and it's one of the most memorable," says Carolyn Klebanoff, MD '82, who presented Sutherland with the award. "Sexton had this way of taking a situation that was innately awkward - brand new medical students with this human body in front of us - and making it an amazing learning experience. He made it fun and accessible."

Sutherland, a founding Academy member, was recognized as a gifted teacher throughout his long career. Upon his retirement in 2003, his department established an Academy matched endowed chair in his name, which is currently held by Academy member Kimberly Topp, PT, PhD.

Despite his numerous accomplishments, Sutherland was incredibly humbled when he heard he had been selected to receive the Legacy Award. He notes, "I don't think of myself as an award-winning teacher. I think of my life and teaching as being a ball. It was just a great, great time."


The Class of 1981 selected cardiologist Kanu Chatterjee, MD, as the 2011 Legacy Award recipient.

Presenting the award on behalf of his class, Dr. Thomas Simpson reflected on his experience with Dr. Chatterjee during his first year of medical school. Dr. Chatterjee "understood that I needed something more than being in the presence of great and accomplished professionals, something more than hearing about split S2s and ventricular ejection fractions in the classroom. He was, in short, my Merlin. His magic turned facts into useable skills. His attention to the details of a patient's history and the physical exam set standards that have stayed with me for the whole of my career. I quickly realized that I was in the presence of an extraordinary teacher. [Dr. Chatterjee] helped us to understand the importance of a patient's history and the physical exam. It was such a basic idea but it was like turning on a light bulb. I only had 9 or 10 sessions with Dr. Chatterjee, yet they were the most important sessions of my medical school career. He was a teacher who was uncompromisingly dedicated to the importance of clinical skills and in a very short time was able to kick-start the conversion of a know-nothing medical student into a clinician who had the chance of being a benefit to someone else."


Faustino Bernadett presenting the award to Peter Ralston

Class of 1980 honors Peter Ralston

Everyone remembers the exceptional teachers in their life, especially that legendary teacher who made a life-long impact-someone who exemplified the knowledge, skills, wisdom and compassion sought by his or her students.

The Academy's Legacy Award gives UCSF School of Medicine alumni the opportunity to recognize their class's legendary teacher-a committed, inspirational educator who, by example, exposed his or her students to true excellence in all of the dimensions of medicine, as a calling and a profession.

The Class of 1980 chose to mark its 30th reunion by designating the Academy as a beneficiary of its class gift and by honoring Anatomy professor Henry (Peter) Ralston, MD, with the first recipient of the Legacy Award. Class members characterized Ralston as a "natural choice" for the award, describing his consummate professionalism and skill in making a very complicated subject "make all the sense in the world."

The award was presented to Ralston in May at the annual alumni awards luncheon by class representative Faustino Bernadett, MD. The Academy congratulates Peter Ralston for this well-deserved recognition and thanks the Class of 1980 for its generosity and support.

Photo credit: Noah Berger