Honorary Degree Recipients
2021: Anthony Fauci, M.D. — Doctor of Medical Science, honoris causa
Dr. Fauci was appointed director of National Institute of Allergy & Infections Diseases in 1984. He oversees an extensive portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma, and allergies. The NIAID budget for fiscal year 2021 is an estimated $6.1 billion.
Dr. Fauci has advised seven presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.
Dr. Fauci also is the longtime chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation. He has made many contributions to basic and clinical research on the pathogenesis and treatment of immune-mediated and infectious diseases. He helped pioneer the field of human immunoregulation by making important basic scientific observations that underpin the current understanding of the regulation of the human immune response. In addition, Dr. Fauci is widely recognized for delineating the precise ways that immunosuppressive agents modulate the human immune response. He developed effective therapies for formerly fatal inflammatory and immunemediated diseases such as polyarteritis nodosa, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly Wegener’s granulomatosis), and lymphomatoid granulomatosis. A 1985 Stanford University Arthritis Center Survey of the American Rheumatism Association membership ranked Dr. Fauci’s work on the treatment of polyarteritis nodosa and granulomatosis with polyangiitis among the most important advances in patient management in rheumatology over the previous 20 years.
Dr. Fauci has made seminal contributions to the understanding of how HIV destroys the body’s defenses leading to its susceptibility to deadly infections. Further, he has been instrumental in developing treatments that enable people with HIV to live long and active lives. He continues to devote much of his research to the immunopathogenic mechanisms of HIV infection and the scope of the body’s immune responses to HIV.
In a 2021 analysis of Google Scholar citations, Dr. Fauci ranked as the 35th most-cited living researcher. According to the Web of Science, Dr. Fauci ranked 9th out of 2.5 million authors in the field of immunology by total citation count between 1980 and January 2021. During the same period, he ranked 20th out of 2.4 million authors in the field of research & experimental medicine, and 132nd out of 992,000 authors in the field of general & internal medicine.
Dr. Fauci has delivered major lectures all over the world and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest honor given to a civilian by the President of the United States), the National Medal of Science, the George M. Kober Medal of the Association of American Physicians, the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service, the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, the Robert Koch Gold Medal, the Prince Mahidol Award, and the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award. He also has received 50 honorary doctoral degrees from universities in the United States and abroad.
Dr. Fauci is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as other professional societies including the American College of Physicians, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Association of Immunologists, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. He serves on the editorial boards of many scientific journals and as an author, coauthor, or editor of more than 1,300 scientific publications, including several textbooks.
2021: Franklyn Prendergast, M.D., Ph.D. — Doctor of Medical Science, honoris causa
Dr. Prendergast received his medical degree with honors from the University of West Indies in 1968. He was named best preclinical and best clinical student. After an internship he attended Lincoln College, University of Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar where he obtained a B.A. with First Class Honors in 1971 and an M.A. in 1979. He began an Internal Medicine residency at Mayo Clinic in 1971 and subsequently obtained a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the joint Mayo Graduate School/University of Minnesota program in 1977.
Dr. Prendergast was appointed to the Faculty of the Department of Pharmacology at Mayo Graduate School immediately after completing his Ph.D. and rose through the ranks quickly to become a full professor in 1986, both in the Department of Pharmacology and in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. That same year, he was named the Edmond and Marion and Guggenheim Professor as well as the Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He was also named Mayo Distinguished Investigator.
Dr. Prendergast served extensively on several senior internal Mayo administrative committees in the interim between 1977 and 1986, most notably as a member of the Institutional Research Committee. In these capacities he played an integral role in establishing major research policies and facilities while simultaneously being very involved in the Mayo Graduate School and the Mayo Medical School as both mentor and administrator. In 1988 he was awarded Mayo Graduate School’s Teacher of the Year award for his outstanding contribution to Graduate School education. For his research he was named as an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association in 1980.
Throughout his long research career Dr. Prendergast served extensively with the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health in a wide variety of roles as a scientific reviewer and advisor. He was a charter member of the Council for the Division of Research Grants, a member of the National Advisory for General Medical Sciences, a member of the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors, a Presidential appointee as a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board, and a charter council member for the National Center for Advancing Translational Services.
Dr. Prendergast was appointed as the Director for Research of Mayo Clinic in Rochester in 1989, serving for the subsequent four years in that capacity. In 1990 he was also appointed to Mayo’s highest administrative committees: the Mayo Clinic Board of Governors and the Mayo Foundation’s Board of Trustees. He served on these bodies continuously until 2009. In 1995 he was appointed as Director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, a position he held until September 2006. He was responsible for leading the most substantive expansion, transformation and revivification of that enterprise in its history, which in turn helped to regain NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center Status. His last administrative role at Mayo was as the charter Director of the Mayo Center for Individualized Medicine. He retired from that position as well as from the Mayo Foundation in December 2014.
Throughout his academic career, Dr. Prendergast participated extensively in numerous NIH and NSF grant review groups, task forces and advisory committees. He served on the Board of Directors or the Scientific Advisory Board of several biotechnology startups. Additionally, he was appointed as a non-executive member of the Board of Directors of Eli Lilly and Co., a post he held from 1995 until 2017. He has been awarded several honors, including honorary doctorates from Purdue University and the University of the West Indies as well as Distinguished Alumni awards from the University of the West Indies, the University of Minnesota and—most recently in 2019—the Mayo Clinic.
2019: Richard Axel, M.D. — Doctor of Science, honoris causa
Richard Axel, M.D., is a molecular biologist; Nobel Laureate; university professor; professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, neuroscience and pathology; investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and co-director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia University in New York City.
In earlier studies with his colleagues geneticist Michael Wigler, Ph.D., and microbiologist Saul Silverstein, Ph.D., Dr. Axel developed gene transfer techniques that permit the introduction of virtually any gene into any mammalian cell. These studies not only afforded a novel approach to isolate genes but also permitted a detailed analysis of how they worked. This approach led to the isolation and functional analysis of the gene for the lymphocyte surface protein, CD4, the cellular receptor for the AIDS virus, HIV.
Dr. Axel then began to apply molecular biology to problems in neuroscience, with the expectation that genetics could interface with neuroscience to approach the tenuous relationship between genes, behavior and perception. His studies on the logic of the sense of smell revealed more than a thousand genes involved in the recognition of odors and provided insight into how genes shape our perception of the sensory environment. This research earned him the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Dr. Axel’s current work centers on how recognition of odors is translated into an internal representation of sensory quality in the brain and how this representation leads to meaningful thoughts and behavior.
Dr. Axel is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science and the American Philosophical Society. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Axel obtained a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College and a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
2017: Robert J. Lefkowitz, M.D. — Doctor of Science, honoris causa
Robert J. Lefkowitz, M.D., is James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. He has been an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1976.
Dr. Lefkowitz began his research career in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when there was no clear consensus that receptors even existed. His group spent 15 years developing techniques for radioligand binding, solubilization, purification and reconstitution of the four adrenergic receptors known at the time.
In 1986, Dr. Lefkowitz transformed the understanding of what had become known as G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), when he and his colleagues cloned the gene and cDNA for the β2 adrenergic receptor, and recognized its sequence homology with rhodopsin, thus establishing them as the first members of a new family of proteins, the Seven Transmembrane Receptors (7TMRs). This superfamily is now known to be the largest, most diverse and most therapeutically accessible.
Dr. Lefkowitz's lab also discovered and cloned the G protein coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) and β-arrestins, which mediate receptor desensitization, and discovered "biased" signaling through β-arrestins or G proteins. Most recently, he has been applying the tools of structural biology to understand biased signaling at atomic level resolution.
Dr. Lefkowitz has received numerous awards and honors, including the National Medal of Science, the Shaw Prize, the Albany Prize and the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was elected to the USA National Academy of Sciences in 1988, the Institute of Medicine in 1994, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988.
2016: Michael S. Brown, M.D. — Doctor of Science, honoris causa
Michael S. Brown, M.D., was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1941. In 1962, he graduated from the College of the University of Pennsylvania and in 1966, from its School of Medicine. During his residency in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, he met fellow resident Joseph L. Goldstein, M.D. The two established the friendship and mutual respect that led to their long-term scientific collaboration.
From 1968 to 1971, Dr. Brown trained in biochemistry at the National Institutes of Health. In 1971, he joined the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas where he succeeded in purifying the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which participates in cholesterol biosynthesis. Dr. Brown and Dr. Goldstein collaborated to elucidate the biochemical and genetic mechanisms that regulate the level of this enzyme.
In 1974, the two young scientists discovered that human cells possess on their surfaces a protein that they called the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor. The receptor carries LDL into the cell by a process that they called receptor-mediated endocytosis. Within the cell, LDL turns off HMG-CoA reductase, stopping cholesterol synthesis. Subjects with familial hypercholesterolemia (one in 500 people) have defective LDL receptors and suffer early heart attacks.
The work of Drs. Brown and Goldstein established the first cause of heart attacks that could be traced to the molecular level, providing a strong scientific foundation for the theory that cholesterol-carrying LDL particles are a major cause of heart attacks. Building on their work, scientists in the pharmaceutical industry developed drugs called statins that inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, increase the activity of LDL receptors and lower LDL cholesterol.
In the early 1980s, Dr. Brown, Dr. Goldstein and their colleagues purified the LDL receptor, isolated its gene and traced the mutations to the molecular level. As a result, familial hypercholesterolemia is among the best understood of all human genetic diseases.
During the following decade, Dr. Brown and Dr. Goldstein turned their attention to the feedback process that regulates the genes for the LDL receptor and the enzymes of cholesterol synthesis. They discovered a family of proteins, designated sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs) that control these genes. The SREBPs also control the process by which the body converts sugars to fats and thus they are important in obesity and diabetes mellitus.
Throughout the 1970s, when their scientific work was most intensive, Dr. Brown and Dr. Goldstein continued to function as academic physicians, each performing clinical attending rounds on the general medicine wards of Parkland Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Brown is married to the former Alice Lapin. They have two daughters, Elizabeth and Sara. He currently is Regental Professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School where he holds the W.A. Moncrief Chair and directs the Jonsson Center for Molecular Genetics.
Dr. Brown has received honorary degrees from eight institutions. With Dr. Goldstein, he has shared 21 major awards, including the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985, the National Medal of Science in 1988, and the Albany Medical Center Prize in 2003.
2015: Peter C. Agre, M.D. — Doctor of Science, honoris causa
Peter C. Agre, M.D., is the descendent of Norwegian and Swedish immigrants who settled in western Minnesota. He credits his interest in science to his father, Courtland, former chairman of chemistry at St. Olaf and Augsburg Colleges. He credits his interest in humanitarian causes to his mother, Ellen, a farm girl who raised Peter and his five siblings. Dr. Agre and his brother Jim were Eagle Scouts who paddled each summer in the Boundary Waters and explored the winter landscape on cross-country skis.
Dr. Agre studied chemistry at Augsburg College (B.A. 1970) and medicine at Johns Hopkins (M.D. 1974). He completed his medical residency at Case Western Reserve University Hospital and oncology fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Agre joined the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine faculty in 1981 and rose to the rank of professor of biological chemistry and medicine.
In 2003, Dr. Agre shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovery of the aquaporins, a family of water channel proteins found throughout nature. Referred to as "the plumbing system for cells," aquaporins are involved in numerous physiological processes in humans and are implicated in multiple clinical disorders including malaria.
Since 2008, Dr. Agre has served as director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. He oversees 20 faculty research groups as well as field activities in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Dr. Agre is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine for which he chaired the Committee on Human Rights. He holds 17 honorary doctorates from around the world. He has received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America and Commandership in the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit from King Harald V.
From 2009 to 2011, Dr. Agre served as president and chair of the board of advisors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As part of the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy, Dr. Agre has led visits of U.S. scientists to North Korea, Myanmar, Iran and Cuba.
Dr. Agre and his wife, Mary, have been married 40 years and have four grown children and a granddaughter. The Agre family paddles the arctic rivers in Alaska and northern Canada.
2014: William (Bill) W. George — Doctor of the College, honoris causa
Bill George is professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, where he has taught leadership since 2004, and the former chair and CEO of Medtronic. He is the author of the five best-selling books: "Authentic Leadership," "True North," "Finding Your True North," "True North Groups" and "Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis." His most recent book, "Discover Your True North" was published in August 2015. Mr. George is faculty chair of Harvard Business School's executive education program Authentic Leadership Development and co-chair of Leading Global Enterprises.
Mr. George joined Medtronic in 1989 as president and chief operating officer, was chief executive officer from 1991 to 2001, and chairman of the board from 1996 to 2002. Earlier in his career, he was an executive with Honeywell and Litton Industries and served in the U.S. Department of Defense.
Mr. George currently serves as a director of ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs and Mayo Clinic, and also recently served on the board of Novartis and Target. He is a director of Minnesota's Destination Medical Center Corporation, World Economic Forum USA and the Guthrie Theater. He has served as chair of the board of Allina Health System, Abbott-Northwestern Hospital, United Way of the Greater Twin Cities and AdvaMed.
He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2012. He has been named one of "Top 25 Business Leaders of the Past 25 Years" by PBS, "Executive of the Year — 2001" by the Academy of Management and "Director of the Year — 2001-2002" by the National Association of Corporate Directors.
Mr. George has made frequent appearances on television and radio and his articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Fortune, Harvard Business Review and numerous other publications.
Mr. George received his BSIE with high honors from Georgia Tech and his MBA with high distinction from Harvard University, where he was a Baker Scholar. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has received honorary Ph.D.s from Georgia Tech, the University of St. Thomas, Augsburg College and Bryant University. During 2002 to 2003, he was professor at IMD International and Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne, Switzerland, and executive-in-residence at Yale School of Management in 2003.
He and his wife, Penny, reside in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
2013: Thomas J. Brokaw — Doctor of Letters, honoris causa
Thomas J. Brokaw has spent his entire distinguished journalism career with NBC News beginning in 1966 in the Los Angeles bureau where he covered Ronald Reagan's first run for public office, the rise of the 1960s counterculture, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and the 1968 presidential campaign.
From Los Angeles, Mr. Brokaw went to Washington as the White House correspondent during Watergate and as the principal backup for John Chancellor as anchor of "NBC Nightly News." Next stop: New York and the "TODAY Show" followed by his appointment as anchor and managing editor of "NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw." He took over "Meet the Press" for the 2008 campaign when his close friend and colleague Tim Russert passed away.
In addition to his daily news-gathering responsibilities, Mr. Brokaw reported on more than 30 documentaries covering subjects ranging from AIDS, Los Angeles gangs, race, education, medicine, immigration and global warming.
Mr. Brokaw has an impressive list of firsts, including the first interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, the first network report on human rights abuses in Tibet accompanied by an exclusive interview with the Dalai Lama and the only American network anchor to report from Berlin the night the Berlin Wall came down.
In 1998, Mr. Brokaw published his first book, "The Greatest Generation," one of the most popular nonfiction books of the 20th century. He followed that with five other books, including "Boom! Voices of the Sixties" and, most recently, "The Time of Our Lives." He is also a popular essayist for publications ranging from "The New York Times" to "Rolling Stone" and a wide assortment of other periodicals and newspapers.
Mr. Brokaw has won every major award in his craft, including the Peabody, Duponts, Emmys and lifetime achievement recognition. He is the first recipient of an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Mayo Clinic and the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.