Thank you for joining us for the 2021 MAA Distinguished Awards Ceremony! We wish we could all be together in person, but since we cannot, we hope you enjoy our video presentation, which will remain here for viewing in the coming weeks.
Stay safe and well!
2021 Award Recipients
Medical Alumni Association
2021 Distinguished Achievement Award
Honors an alumna/us or house staff alumna/us who has distinguished him/herself in the medical profession through patient care, research and leadership.
M. Stephen Ledbetter, MD '92
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Ledbetter is a native of Hendersonville, North Carolina, who has become a respected leader in the field of radiology and medical imaging and a faculty member of Harvard Medical School.
He came to the Wake Forest School of Medicine after earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Furman University. Following medical school, he headed to Boston, where he completed his medical training with an internship at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and residency and fellowship training in diagnostic radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
At Brigham and Women’s, Ledbetter founded the Division of Emergency Radiology and served as its chief until 2011. During his tenure as division chief, he also earned a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.
From 2011 to 2019, Ledbetter served as chief of radiology at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, and in 2017, he was named medical director for Brigham Health Medical Imaging IT. He was promoted to his current role, overseeing medical imaging informatics for the entire Mass General Brigham health care system, in 2019.
Ledbetter has received numerous teaching and leadership awards throughout his career at Mass General Brigham. He is a longtime active member of the American Society of Emergency Radiology, which he has served as president, and he received the organization’s Gold Medal in 2020. He is a national and international speaker on emergency radiology topics, most notably on acute aortic syndromes and care design in emergency radiology.
Medical Alumni Association
2021 Distinguished Faculty Award
Honors a current or former faculty member for outstanding contributions to Wake Forest School of Medicine and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist through teaching and research and by demonstrating the highest principles of academic medicine.
George W. Plonk, Jr, MD '73, House Staff '77
Associate Professor Emeritus of Surgery
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Plonk entered the Wake Forest School of Medicine after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill. Following medical school, he completed an internship and residency at Wake Forest Baptist and a peripheral vascular fellowship at the University of South Carolina before returning to Wake Forest to join the School of Medicine faculty in 1979.
As a faculty member, he directed the vascular surgery laboratory for 10 years, and he has collaborated on notable research published in peer-reviewed journals throughout his career while maintaining membership in the American College of Surgeons and the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery since the early 1980s.
His greatest interest is reflected in his greatest contribution: teaching. Since 1992, Plonk has advised more than 35 graduate students, residents and fellows in vascular surgery—and that number continues to grow.
In 1991, members of the graduating MD class selected him as recipient of the Clinical Faculty Award.
And in 2017, he received an honor that will help cement his legacy at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in the hearts and minds of all future students. That year, the school established the Peacock-Plonk Award in honor of Plonk and James Peacock, MD, professor of infectious diseases, for their contributions to the education of medical students. The award honors their clinical expertise, diagnostic acumen, bedside manner and humility and is presented to the student with the highest clerkship scores in the fall of their fourth year.
Medical Alumni Association
2021 Distinguished Service Award
Honors an alumna/us or non-alumna/us for outstanding contributions to Wake Forest School of Medicine and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. the community and/or the practice of medicine.
Alfred Lee Baker, MD '66, and Dorothy Clark Baker (Posthumous)
Mrs. Baker completed training as a registered nurse at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and went on to receive a BA in nursing from the University of Georgia, followed by a master's degree in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh.
She held several supervisory positions at Eggleston Children's Hospital in Georgia, and in 1979, she became the vice president of nursing at Newington Children's Hospital in Connecticut for 10 years, before she and Dr. Baker married.
After completing medical school, Dr. Baker finished his training with a residency at Grady Memorial Hospital and the VA Hospital in Atlanta. A fellowship at Tufts New England Medical Center allowed him to work with leading physicians, surgeons and laboratory investigators on the cutting edge of research into liver disease.
He brought that interest in liver disease with him to Chicago, where he has spent a remarkable medical career, first at the University of Chicago beginning in 1973 and later at Northwestern University, which he joined in 2000.
In 1985, Dr. Baker helped establish the first liver transplant program in the Midwest, and it later grew into one of the largest in the country. Under his guidance, the program became the first in the country to perform living donor transplants in children, and it was among the first to successfully perform liver transplants in patients with acute liver failure. He also was involved in some of the first studies to introduce successful treatments for patients with hepatitis C.
He has contributed more than 100 scientific papers and medical books about liver disorders. If his contributions ended there, that would be remarkable enough, but Dr. Baker’s greatest work may lie in his service – to medical students, his community and especially his medical alma mater.
He retired from direct medical care in 2005 but has continued to instruct medical students, residents and fellows. At Wake Forest, he established a scholarship to help deserving medical students offset the tremendous cost of medical school.
He has served in various capacities with the Medical Alumni Association, always willing to lead and help. When the School of Medicine plans any outreach to alumni in the greater Chicago area, Dr. and Mrs. Baker were always leading the charge, offering to help new alumni who may be relocating to the area or to meet alumni in and around Chicago who may be new to him. Since Mrs. Baker's passing, Dr. Baker has fervently continued the mission of uniting School of Medicine alumni with each other.
Medical Alumni Association
2021 Student Excellence Award
Honors a graduating student whose peers believe best demonstrates the qualities needed to become the model of a complete physician — knowledge, compassion and dedication.
Christopher Rodman, MD '21
Rodman came to the Wake Forest School of Medicine with a bachelor’s degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering from UCLA, and as a medical student, he distinguished himself through research and by giving back.
After earning his undergraduate degree, he worked as a research assistant. At the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, he assessed the effects of space radiation on hematopoietic cells to help NASA with future space missions. He then worked at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he investigated interactions between tumor cells and immune cells through single-cell experiments.
Upon entering medical school, he continued to focus on research through a medical student fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he helped analyze new single-cell RNA sequencing methods to study glioblastoma.
As a medical student, he worked as a clinic volunteer and data analyst for the student-led and physician-staffed Delivering Equal Access to Care Clinic—known as the DEAC Clinic—that provides free care to those who have no insurance and are ineligible for Medicaid. He also mentored first-year medical students on clinical problem-solving.
His research has been published in the journals Cell, Leukemia, Nature Medicine, Nature and Science in addition to the Wake Forest Journal of Science and Medicine.
His honors have included the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, the Gold Humanism Honor Society and the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. Since graduation, he has started his internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago Medical Center.