And the award goes to …

AOA honors leaders, researchers and affiliates for advancing osteopathic medicine

Awards recognize excellence in research, DEI and advancement of the profession.


Each year, the AOA recognizes those who make significant contributions toward advancing osteopathic medicine. This year’s OMED awards ceremony takes place in-person in Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 7.

This year’s lineup of recipients includes osteopathic physicians, medical students and affiliate organizations who have made a critical impact during the past year in the areas of research; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); affiliate initiatives and mentorship. In addition, the AOA also recognized several exceptional DOs and affiliate leaders at this year’s AOA House of Delegates meeting in July.

Read on to learn more about this year’s award winners:

Journal of Osteopathic Medicine Awards

JOM Social Determinants of Health Research Award

The JOM Social Determinants of Health Research Award recognizes a research article focused on addressing patient equity in health care. This year’s award recipient is Richard T. Jermyn, DO, and his co-authors for their work on the article titled “Impact of an osteopathic peer recovery coaching model on treatment outcomes in high-risk men entering residential treatment for substance use disorders.” Dr. Jermyn and his research team studied the efficacy of a peer recovery program in which patients received six months of peer recovery coaching. Dr. Jermyn’s study found that, over a two-year period, many participants showed a marked improvement.

JOM Health Policy Research Award

The JOM Health Policy Research Award recognizes an article that contributes to the profession’s collective understanding of how policy can inform and be informed by clinical evidence. The 2023 recipient is Alexis M. Stoner, PhD, MPH, along with her co-authors, for their article titled “The relationship between required physician letters of recommendation and decreasing diversity in osteopathic medical school admissions.” The objective of Dr. Stoner’s study was to determine if a relationship exists between a physician letter of recommendation (PLOR) for medical school applications and the proportion of students underrepresented in medicine who apply and matriculate to medical school. Researchers determined that schools with a required PLOR exhibited a decrease in the number of applicants across all races and ethnicities.

JOM Junior Faculty/Young Investigators Research Award

The JOM Junior Faculty/Young Investigators Research Award is presented to an osteopathic medical student, resident, fellow or DO in the first three years of practice who serves as a lead author for an article that addresses an important concept in patient care. Jordyn Austin, OMS IV, is the 2023 recipient of the Junior Faculty/Young Investigators Research Award for her contributions to “Cervical cancer screening among women with comorbidities: a cross-sectional examination of disparities from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.” The goal of Austin and her team’s research was to analyze whether cervical cancer screening rates vary among women with various comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and others when compared to women without such comorbidities. The team found that women with COPD and kidney disease were significantly less likely to have completed a cervical cancer screening.

JOM Quality Improvement in Education Research Award

Recognizing an article that documents a significant improvement in medical education delivery, the JOM Quality Improvement in Education Research Award is presented to Jantzen J. Faulker, OMS IV, and his co-authors for their article titled “Barriers to research opportunities among osteopathic medical students.” Faulker and his team set out to determine the barriers that osteopathic medical students face when seeking research opportunities, as well as identify current resources available and investigate the factors that contribute to a student’s desire to pursue research opportunities. Faulker and his team concluded that the study’s findings indicated that one-third of OMSs reported an unawareness of research resources available at their respective osteopathic medical schools.

JOM Clinical Research Award

The JOM Clinical Research Award recognizes an article that assesses outcomes on patient care with a special emphasis on reporting results of a specific clinical patient intervention. The 2023 recipient is John C. Licciardone, DO, and his co-authors for the article “Optimizing chronic pain management through patient engagement with quality of life measures: a randomized controlled trial.” Dr. Licciardone and his research team chose to assess the value of an eHealth intervention for patients with chronic low back pain that used health-related quality of life (HRQOL) measures, as well as to gauge the clinical outcomes associated with its use. The researchers found that there were no significant differences between experimental and control groups over time in the primary or secondary outcome measures. It was concluded that the eHealth intervention did not improve patients’ back pain.

JOM Innovations Research Award

An award that recognizes an article documenting outcomes research about a new concept in patient management or medical education delivery, the JOM Innovations Research Award is presented to Todd J. Cohen, MD, and his co-authors for their article “At-home ECG monitoring with a real-time outpatient cardiac telemetry system during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Dr. Cohen’s study tested whether at-home real-time outpatient cardiac telemetry was an effective method of providing ECG monitoring to patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Cohen and his team concluded that this system was usable by patients and staff without issue and therefore, this system can be used to prevent infection and to diagnose cardiac diseases while delivering patient-centered care to those with limited mobility.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Unification Awards

Individual recipient

This year’s recipient of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Unification Award in the individual category is Alberto Velasco, OMS III, in recognition of his innovative efforts to promote DEI initiatives throughout the osteopathic medical education community. Velasco started the groundbreaking program, JEDI, which stands for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, on the campus of the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. JEDI challenges students to quantifiably participate in DEI initiatives. Velasco has also worked with students from other colleges of osteopathic medicine to launch their own versions of JEDI, creating a sense of unity across the medical education community.

Organizational recipient

The 2023 organizational recipient of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Unification Award is the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (ACOFP). The ACOFP has put in great effort to increase advocacy for social justice and equity for underrepresented voices. Over the past several years, the ACOFP has been committed to taking measurable, tangible actions to make positive change. The organization formed a DEI Task Force, which focuses on diversity initiatives and policy change. Last year, the ACOFP implemented 15 approved recommendations from the task force and formed a DEI advisory group, among other activities. ACOFP President David Park, DO, and Executive Director Bob Moore will accept the award.

Outstanding Affiliate Awards

The Outstanding Affiliate Awards recognize osteopathic organizations helping to advance the AOA’s key initiatives through innovative actions.

The Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons (AMOPS) is the recipient of an Outstanding Affiliate Award due to their service of 45 osteopathic schools across the United States representing military medical students. AMOPS created a mentoring program to help individuals navigate the hurdles of medical school and officer training. Last year, the mentoring program matched over 400 osteopathic military medical students with DO resident and physician mentors. AMOPS former president Jennifer Ravenscroft, DO, and Executive Director Suzanne Frederick will accept the award.

Receiving the Outstanding Affiliate Award in recognition of the organization’s continuous efforts to partner with organizations for the betterment of the osteopathic medical profession is the American College of Osteopathic Internists (ACOI). In addition to many influential activities benefiting DOs, the ACOI also offers an In-Training Service Exam, allowing residents to complete their certification exam prior to graduating from residency. ACOI President Joanne Kaiser-Smith, DO, and Executive Director Karen Caruth will accept the award.

Mentor of the Year Award

The AOA’s Mentor of the Year Award is one of the organization’s most prestigious honors. Nominations are received from osteopathic medical students, residents, fellows and practicing physicians across the entire profession. In honor of her influential work as an osteopathic educator, researcher and leader, the AOA’s 2023 Mentor of the Year award is presented to AOA President-elect Teresa Hubka, DO. As told by those fortunate enough to count her as their mentor, Dr. Hubka is known for the extensive time and attention she devotes to mentoring students and residents. Dr. Hubka gives her mentees unmatched opportunities to gain hands-on experience in patient care. Teaching by example, Dr. Hubka demonstrates the art of listening and truly embodies the osteopathic approach of caring for patients, body, mind and spirit.

Read on for a summary of awards presented during the AOA’s House of Delegates meeting in July:

Distinguished Service Awards

The Distinguished Service Award is the AOA’s highest honor. The award recognizes contributions to the overall profession, including the advancement of the science and art of osteopathic medicine, education, philanthropy and other fields of public service.

This year’s recipients are Karen T. Snider, DO, and William J. Burke, DO.

Karen T. Snider, DO, serves as Assistant Dean for Osteopathic Principles and Practice (OPP) Integration and as a professor in the Department of Family Medicine, Preventive Medicine and Community Health at A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Snider is a dedicated researcher who also serves as a scientist at the A.T. Still Research Institute Center for Clinical Outcome Studies. A devoted supporter of the osteopathic profession, Dr. Snider is heavily involved in several organizations, including the AOA, where she serves as a board member for the American Osteopathic Board of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and has regularly contributed to the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Snider has also worked with the American Academy of Osteopathy (AAO), the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) and the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME).

William J. Burke, DO, is a leader at the local, state, national and international levels. Dr. Burke serves as dean and as an associate professor at the Ohio University-Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dublin. For nine years, Dr. Burke served on the AOA’s Board of Trustees and chaired the departments of Educational Affairs, Governmental Affairs and Research and Development, as well as the Bureau of Communications from 2012 to 2015 and the Committee on AOA Governance and Organizational Structure from 2016 to 2017. He is currently a member of the Bureau of International Osteopathic Medicine. Previously, Dr. Burke served as president of the Ohio State Society of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians and the Columbus Osteopathic Association, in addition to his longtime service as a delegate of the Ohio Osteopathic Association.

AOA Presidential Citations

At HOD, AOA Immediate Past President Ernest R. Gelb, DO, honored four leaders with Presidential Citations in recognition of their dedication. They are:

    • Kieren P. Knapp, DO, who has dedicated over four decades to the practice of osteopathic medicine, providing whole-person care for the body, mind and spirit of patients in underserved regions of rural Pennsylvania. Dr. Knapp graduated from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1979 and went on to complete his postgraduate training at Memorial Hospital in York, Pennsylvania. Dr. Knapp and his family settled in south central Pennsylvania, where he has served as an osteopathic physician for generations of patients who have limited access to health care. Dr. Knapp currently serves as director of medical education at UPMC Memorial Hospital and as an osteopathic family physician at Jacobus (Pennsylvania) Medical Center.

    • James D. Polk, DO, who has spent his illustrious 30-year career as an osteopathic physician ascending the highest ranks of aerospace medicine to become the chief health and medical officer at NASA, where he oversees care for the nation’s astronaut corps and support teams. Dr. Polk’s career began in 1993 after graduating from A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, followed by postdoctoral training in emergency medicine and in aerospace medicine. He is triple board certified in emergency medicine, aerospace medicine and preventive medicine, and is a fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians and the American Osteopathic Board of Preventive Medicine.

    • Francis P. Sutter, DO, who has dedicated his career as an osteopathic cardiac surgeon to advancing surgical treatment of coronary artery disease, with the goal of helping patients achieve optimal outcomes and shortened recovery times. Dr. Sutter has spent the last 18 years working to pioneer and advance minimally invasive coronary artery bypass graft surgery, which correlates to reduced post-operative pain and decreased risk of stroke. Since 2005, Dr. Sutter has performed over 2,300 robotic coronary bypass procedures, more than any other surgeon or medical institution in the United States. Dr. Sutter has served as chief of cardiac surgery at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania since 2001 and as a clinical professor of surgery at Jefferson Medical College, where he educates the next generation of physicians using his innovative approach and groundbreaking techniques.

    • John B. Reilly, who has served as the AOA’s official presidential photographer for the past three decades, helping to commemorate the lasting legacy of the AOA’s leaders. This year marks the 31st official portrait of an AOA president that will be captured through Reilly’s lens. Reilly brings considerable expertise to his work as a photographer, drawing on his education in California and his experience studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. In addition to his work as the AOA’s presidential photographer, Mr. Reilly has also photographed notable leaders, celebrities and politicians from Chicago.

Bob E. Jones, CAE, Award

The Bob E. Jones, CAE, Award, established in 2001, recognizes outstanding state and specialty executive directors who continually contribute to the AOA and the osteopathic profession as a whole.

The 2023 recipient is Kris T. Nicholoff, CEO of the Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA). Throughout his four-decade career, Nicholoff has forged relationships with countless people and organizations. As CEO of the MOA, he has continued to build relationships with stakeholders in the health care arena in Michigan, instituting a program of building strategic partnerships with a wide variety of hospital systems, professional health care organizations and members of the health care insurance industry. Nicholoff also invests in relationships with candidates and political figures. These relationships have significantly impacted the financial health of the MOA and also supported the organization in nonfinancial ways. Nicholoff’s strategic partnerships program has been so successful, several other state osteopathic organizations have modeled their own efforts after those pioneered by him.


  1. Jennifer Lynn Ravenscroft

    Need to make a correction. I am not the second VP of AMOPS. I am a former president of AMOPS. Thanks.

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