The EJI Excellence in Medicine Awards™ are awarded annually to honor those exemplary physicians and leaders whose dedication to medical care, education, research and public service has significantly impacted the delivery of healthcare in New Jersey and around the nation.
Profits from this annual event will be dedicated to the Excellence in Medicine Scholarship Fund. Significant scholarships are provided to medical and healthcare students who represent the values of the Foundation and intend to practice in New Jersey.
Visit EJIFoundation.org for further event information and sponsorship opportunities.
Our 2022 Honorees
Outstanding Healthcare Executive Award
This award is presented to an executive in a healthcare-related organization or field who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in the enhancement of patient care and medical practice in New Jersey.
Shereef Elnahal, MD, MBA, has served in various healthcare leadership capacities in the public and private sectors. He currently serves as the President and CEO of University Hospital in Newark, NJ, which is the principal academic hospital of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Under his tenure, University Hospital has achieved substantial improvements in quality and patient safety, financial performance, community engagement, and health equity and inclusion.
He was the 21st Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health in the State of New Jersey, as a Cabinet official under Governor Phil Murphy. Previously, Dr. Elnahal was appointed to the White House Fellows program by President Barack Obama in 2015. In this capacity, he served in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where he co-founded the Veterans Affairs Innovation Ecosystem—a network of innovators and implementation professionals across the United States who develop and scale best practices that have improved healthcare quality, women’s health, mental health and substance treatment and other areas. The results of this program have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
He also served as the Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer of the Veterans Health Administration, the largest health system in the United States.
EJI Physician’s Award™
This award is presented to a New Jersey physician for dedication and extraordinary service to the profession and to the citizens of the state.
Margarita Camacho, MD, MBA, MS, is the Surgical Director of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s heart transplant program, Quality Director, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery Northern Division at RWJBarnabas Health, and one of the nation’s most renowned heart surgeons. Throughout her career, Dr. Camacho has performed more than 650 heart transplants and has been a relentless advocate for the life-changing power of organ donation. Prior to joining Newark Beth Israel in 2005, Dr. Camacho served as a Clinical Associate at the Cleveland Clinic, where she received the Charles Bryan Award for Clinical Excellence. She has been honored by multiple local organizations, including the Executive Women of New Jersey and the New Jersey Hospital Association. In 2021, NJBIZ named Dr. Camacho one of its five “Physician of the Year” recipients. In 2017, she became the first female recipient of the Harvey E. Nussbaum Distinguished Service Award from the American Heart Association. She serves as the President of the New Jersey Society of Thoracic Surgeons and President of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association; she also has been named several times to Castle Connolly’s Top Doctors lists. Dr. Camacho is the Past Chair of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Workforce on End-stage Cardiopulmonary Disease and Past President of the Society of Women in Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Camacho lectures nationally, including to Washington, DC, policymakers, and has authored numerous research articles, book chapters and surgical manuals. She received her medical degree from New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, and completed fellowships on cardiothoracic surgery and pediatric cardiac surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Outstanding Medical Educator Award
This award is presented to a medical educator who has made an outstanding contribution to medical education in New Jersey.
Petros Levounis, MD, MA, serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Associate Dean for Professional Development at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Levounis came to Rutgers from Columbia University, where he served as Director of the Addiction Institute of New York from 2002 to 2013.
Dr. Levounis is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, where he studied chemistry and biophysics before receiving his medical education at Stanford and the Medical College of Pennsylvania. During medical school, he researched the effects of social class on patient-physician relationships in Oxford, England, and received an MA degree in sociology from Stanford. Dr. Levounis graduated from Columbia’s psychiatry residency program, earning the National Institute of Mental Health Outstanding Resident Award, and went on to complete his fellowship in addiction psychiatry at New York University.
Dr. Levounis is a Betty Ford Scholar, a recipient of the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists’ Distinguished Service Award and a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. In 2017, he was elected as an honorary member of the World Psychiatric Association. He was recently named President-Elect of the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Levounis has published 14 books, including the self-help paperback Sober Siblings: How to Help Your Alcoholic Brother or Sister—and Not Lose Yourself and the textbook of Substance Dependence and Co-Occurring Psychiatric Disorders. His books have been translated into French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.
Verice M. Mason Community Service Leader Award
This award is presented to an individual who has personified, led and provided the vision for an organization, and to the organization served, for extraordinary commitment to improving the health and welfare of the citizens of New Jersey.
Sunanda Gaur, MD, will receive this year’s award on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Clinical Research Center (RWJMS-CRC). Dr. Gaur is a pediatric infectious disease specialist and Professor of Pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She has directed the school’s Pediatric Clinical Research Center since 2006. In 2016, she also became Director of the Adult Clinical Research Center. She co-leads the section on clinical research HUB capacity and trial acceleration at the New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science, supported by the National Insitutes of Health’s (NIH’s) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Dr. Gaur is the Founding Director of the South Asian Total Health Initiative (SATHI) at the medical school. SATHI is a research, outreach and education initiative dedicated to improving the health of South Asians living in the U.S.
Dr. Gaur has worked with children and families with HIV/AIDS since 1983. She has directed the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson AIDS Program since 1995 and chairs the Advisory Committee for the New Jersey Family-Centered HIV Care Network, working with seven other sites in NJ to enhance the standards of HIV care. She served as the Principal Investigator of Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development- (NICHD-) funded pediatric AIDS clinical trials, participating in more than 40 clinical trials in pediatric HIV. Dr. Gaur is interested in international HIV/AIDS, particularly in South Asia, and is involved with the Mailman School of Public Health, providing HIV/AIDS training to healthcare professionals abroad.
Dr. Gaur continues to lead clinical trials related to antimicrobials and infectious diseases, including COVID-19 clinical trials and studies at the medical school.
Outstanding Scientist Award
This award is presented to an individual or individuals who have made exceptional contributions leading to advances in healthcare.
Junichi Sadoshima, PhD, MD, is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. He graduated from Kyushu University School of Medicine in Fukuoka, Japan, receiving his MD/PhD in 1990. He is an expert on the molecular mechanism of heart failure and aging. His research focuses on cardiac metabolism and redox-sensitive signaling mechanisms. His research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Heart Association (AHA) and Foundation of Leducq. His work has been published in Cell, Nature Medicine and Cell Metabolism. He received first prize for the AHA’s Katz Basic Science Research Prize (1995); first prize for the AHA Cardiovascular Research Prize (2001); the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR) Janice Pfeffer Distinguished Lecture Award (2010); the AHA Thomas Smith Memorial Lecture Award (2014); the Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences (BCVS) Distinguished Investigator Award (2017); the ISHR President’s Distinguished Lecture Award (2017); and the AHA Merit Award (2020).
Dr. Sadoshima is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. He is a section editor of Autophagy and also serves on 13 journals, including the Journal of Clinical Investigation, as an Editorial Board member. He is a North American coordinator of the Leducq Transatlantic Network, focusing on autophagy in the heart. He has co-organized BCVS 2011 and the Keystone Symposia on Mitochondria and Metabolism in 2017. He regularly serves on NIH study sections and review panels in international funding agencies, including European Research Council. He dedicates himself to the training of young scientists, and his trainees have received numerous awards, including Katz and Marcus awards from the AHA.
Peter W. Rodino, Jr. Citizen’s Award®
This award is presented to a citizen or group of citizens of New Jersey who merits recognition for distinguished service in advancing and promoting the health and well-being of the people of our state.
Joshua Coren, DO, MBA, will accept this year’s award on behalf of the Rowan University COVID-19 Vaccine Center Leadership Team, who succeeded in improving the health of New Jersey residents with their vaccination efforts. Dr. Coren is the Co-Founder and Medical Director of the Vaccine Center, and provided leadership and support for the core team while maintaining constant contact with State officials. Dr. Coren also serves as the Interim Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, Chair and Professor, Department of Family Medicine, and the Director of Continuing Medical Education at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Coren is responsible for predoctoral, post-doctoral and clinical activities. He has been Principal Investigator (PI) on numerous state and federal grants, including the Department of Health Services Office of Women’s Health and HRSA. As Director of Continuing Medical Education, he designs, lectures and implements both online and on-site educational content for international programming.
Additional Members of the Vaccine Center Leadership Team
Richard Jermyn, DO, was the Co-Founder of the Vaccine Center and medical provider in charge of special mobile vaccine projects, reaching communities of need throughout the state. Danielle Cooley, DO, was the Co-Founder and official medical provider reporting to the New Jersey Immunization Information System (NJIIS). Kanad Mukherjee, DO, was the Site Physician who provided contributor orientation daily, reviewing the mission to save lives. Anne Tomasello, PMP, was the Project Manager who led the volunteer management, scheduling and patient management. Mike Mowery, MBA, was the Vaccine Center Administrator who provided on-site clinical workflow management and assured quality of patient care. Chrissy Beswick was the Facilities/Events Coordinator who coordinated operations for staff and patient experience. Amanda Coltri was the Online Scheduling Services Specialist who created an accessible scheduling experience. Carl Hock, PhD, and Tom Boyle were Cold Chain team members who received and prepared all vaccine deliveries. Renee Demarest, PhD, was the Vaccine Prep Coordinator who ensured that the vaccine site staff were ready to properly prepare the vaccine. Tiruayer Battle, MS, was the Vaccine Center Hired Staff Manager who recruited staff for various roles. Louis Evangelista, MBA, MA, provided valuable PPE and equipment, ensuring the highest-level clinical safety standards.
The dedication and the endless hours that faculty, staff, residents, and hundreds of volunteers spent on “Operation Save Lives” resulted in the Center’s remarkable success and had a significant impact on protecting New Jersey’s citizens from COVID-19.
2022 Excellence in Medicine Scholarship Recipients
Congratulations to all of our scholarship students!
Cooper Medical School of Rowan University,
Class of 2022
Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine,
Class of 2022
Rutgers School of Dental Medicine,
Class of 2022
Rutgers School of Health Professions,
Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2022
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School,
Class of 2022
Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine,
Class of 2022
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School,
Class of 2022
Seton Hall University School of Health and Medical Sciences,
Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2022
Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy,
Class of 2023