The American Medical Association (AMA) yesterday presented the 2001 Pride in the Profession Awards to six physicians who have made heroic contributions to their communities as healers and leaders.

Presented in association with the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative, the awards honor physicians whose devotion to the highest values of medical practice have healed patients, enriched communities, and inspired colleagues.

``The Pride in the Profession Award recognizes physicians whose leadership, service, and integrity have overcome the challenges of today's changing health care climate and brought healing and hope to people of all ages and from all walks of life,'' according to AMA President Randolph D. Smoak, Jr., MD.

``Together this year's six honorees represent the best that American medicine has to offer,'' stated Mike Magee, MD, senior medical adviser for Pfizer, Inc. ``Their compassion, understanding, and partnership with their patients reminds all of us that the patient-physician relationship remains the heart of American medicine and that only the best is good enough.''

Begun in 1999 as a program designed to encourage peer-to-peer recognition for the highest standards of medical service, the presentation of the 2001 Pride in the Profession Awards marks the first time the awards have been formalized.

In choosing this year's honorees, the selection committee searched for candidates who:
-- Advance public health through volunteerism or public service.
-- Offer better access to quality health care for an undeserved patient population.
-- Practice medicine in areas of challenge or crisis.
-- Serve in remarkable and innovative ways through a specific act or a lifetime of service.

Each honoree receives an engraved commemorative piece representing the ideals of the medical profession, and a $1,000 grant to further their commendable work.

The awards were presented to the recipients with the thanks of the nation's physician leaders during a special session of the AMA's National Leadership Conference at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC.

The AMA salutes the recipients of the 2001 Pride in the Profession Awards:

Thomas T. Haider, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon, Riverside, California

From the time he decided to become a physician at the age of 12, Thomas T. Haider, MD, planned to use his medical skills to help people in his home country of Afghanistan. Political turmoil ultimately prevented him from returning home after completing his undergraduate and medical education in the United States, but the twist of fate has meant thousands of improved lives on both sides of the Atlantic.

Here in the United States, Dr. Haider established the Children's Spine Foundation in 1994 to provide free comprehensive spinal care for children without health insurance. He also was the driving force behind the creation of the American Board of Spine Surgery, and he established the first Spine Fellowship Program at the University of Colorado Medical Center. After developing and patenting a new polyaxial pedicile screw for use in spine fusion surgeries, Dr. Haider pledged all royalties -- which have totaled more than $40 million -- to the University of California, Riverside Biomedical Sciences Program.

And he never forgot his early goal: Dr. Haider also sponsors a children's hospital in Afghanistan by supporting the salaries of 40 physicians and providing funds for all medication and food supplies.

Syed Arshad Husain, MD
Child Psychiatry, Columbia, Missouri

The emotional traumas of war often embed themselves deeper than visible physical scars, particularly in children. Few people can understand this better than Syed Arshad Husain, MD, founding director of the International Center for Psychosocial Trauma at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine.

Not only has Dr. Husain made more than 20 voluntary trips to Bosnia and Herzegovina to work with traumatized children, but as a child, he himself fled war-torn India with his family in the 1940s. Through his work in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Husain has trained more than 2,000 teachers and more than 200 mental health professionals to help children deal with the trauma and tragedy of war.

Elsewhere, Dr. Husain has led a World Federation of Mental Health Committee in its efforts to prevent child pornography and the commercial exploitation of children throughout the world. And following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Dr. Husain traveled to Oklahoma City to provide emergency training to counselors treating families.

Paul F. Maddox, MD
Family Practice, Campton, Kentucky

When Paul F. Maddox, MD, first moved to Campton, Ky., in 1953 to become the community physician, the home he and his wife moved into had no running water, much like many of the other citizens of the rural Appalachian town. Dr. Maddox has since acquired indoor plumbing, but he still remains a man of the community.

In an area of the state where almost 39% of people live below poverty level, Dr. Maddox served the people of Campton as both a tireless physician and a community leader. As Campton's only long-serving physician until just a few years ago, Dr. Maddox kept his clinic open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Always on call, he treated up to 150 patients a day and delivered as many as 429 babies a year until hospitals were built nearby in 1973.

The patients and people of Campton also elected Dr. Maddox as mayor, during which time he lent the town money to build much-needed sewer lines. Only after he was diagnosed with large-cell lymphoma in 1999 did Dr. Maddox slow down to a more ``normal'' pace. Even then, he would treat patients in the morning then drive 70 miles to receive his daily chemotherapy treatments in Lexington.

Herman Richard (Dick) Matern, MD, FACS
General Surgeon, Fort Defiance, Arizona

Early in his medical career as a surgical fellow, Herman Richard (Dick) Matern, MD, FACS, worked long hours but felt patients would be cared for whether he was there or not. After spending a year in Vietnam through the U.S. Public Health Service, Dr. Matern realized that volunteers such as himself were the only way residents for hundreds of miles could get access to surgical or even basic medical care.

In 1973, Dr. Matern returned with his wife to Vietnam, where he provided pediatric surgical services and began a long career devoted to caring for medically underserved regions of the world. In addition to his work in Vietnam, Dr. Matern has served as a volunteer to the Behrhorst Clinic in Guatemala and a surgeon to the International Peace Project in Nepal.

For nearly 20 years, Dr. Matern has led the ``Friends of Shanta Bhawan'' clinic in Nepal, which he founded after years of raising funds and supplies. With most of the area's residents impoverished and malnourished, he routinely treated diseases rarely seen in the United States such as tuberculosis, osteomyelitis and congenital malformities. Dr. Matern has retired from medicine in the United States but continues his work on behalf of Friends of Shanta Bhawan.

Chandra Varia, MD
Obstetrics & Gynecology, Martin, Kentucky

After Chanrda Varia, MD, helps babies make their entrance into the world, her care for them continues once the post-natal visits are complete. She wants them to go to college and contribute to the community. Last year, Dr. Varia and her husband created a $1.6 million scholarship program for eligible children who had been delivered by ``Dr. Chandra,'' as she is known to many of her patients.

The scholarship fund is just one of many contributions Dr. Varia has made to the rural Kentucky area she has been serving since 1979. After witnessing the effects of spousal abuse in her practice every day, Dr. Varia endowed a local community college with $100,000 with hopes that the loans would encourage women in the region to pursue their education and become more independent.

Her contributions to the community go far beyond the monetary. In Martin, Ky., where her private practice is located, more than 30% of the population lives below the poverty level. To help patients who could not otherwise afford health care, Dr. Varia operates a free clinic one day a month.

Linda D. Warren, MD
Family Practice, Hanover, Kansas

Between her work as the only primary care physician in the rural Kansas town of Hanover and her involvement in organized medicine, Linda Warren, MD, also has carved time to be an active parent to her four children. While they were still in school, it became routine for them to see their mother wearing surgical scrubs while watching a performance or conferring with a teacher.

As an instructor in rural medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Dr. Warren has worked hard to encourage residents and medical students to serve the profession through organized medicine. In 1995, Dr. Warren became the first woman president of the Kansas Medical Society, and she has served as both delegate and alternate delegate to the AMA House of Delegates. Most recently, Dr. Warren stepped aside as AMA delegate and chair of the Kansas delegation so that others could get involved in organized of medicine.

Throughout her career, Dr. Warren has been dedicated to staying in her rural community, where 30 percent of the population is over 65 years of age. Because of her dedication, residents have enjoyed access to medical care, including obstetrics, which likely would not have been available otherwise.