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Portrait of Dr. Amber Barnhart
Portrait of Dr. Gordon Grado

May 17, 2011

SIU Med School Names Two Distinguished Alums

Two physicians are recipients of the distinguished alumni award for 2011 for Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.  They are Dr. Amber Barnhart, professor of family and community medicine at SIU and class of 1981, and Dr. Gordon L. Grado, founder and medical director of the Southwest Oncology Centers in Arizona, Wurtele Family Professor of therapeutic radiology and radiation oncology at University of Minnesota and class of 1977.

The awards from the School’s Alumni Society Board of Governors recognize outstanding contributions to medicine and distinguished service to humankind.  They will be presented at SIU’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 21, in Springfield.

Barnhart’s nominators said “Dr. Barnhart has exhibited excellence in education and service during her career at SIU.  She has served as clerkship director and residency program director in the past as well as director of undergraduate education in the department since 1998.  Under her leadership, the undergraduate program has twice won national recognition as a ‘Top Ten’ school for its percentage of medical students entering family medicine residencies.  She continues to spark that excitement and interest in family medicine...As a physician, Dr. Barnhart is a role model.  She is dearly loved by her patients, many of whom have been seeing her for nearly 30 years since her residency.”

Nominators pointed to Dr. Barnhart having served as the first director of the doctoring curriculum for the medical students.  “This innovative and integrated clinical curriculum spans the entire medical school experience and is part of the reason that SIU has a reputation for producing physicians with excellent clinical skills, professionalism, interpersonal and communication skills as they begin residency training.”  She also has worked with both the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Educational Commission of Foreign Medical Graduates to develop clinical skills exams.  In addition, she has been a physician evaluator for Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in cases involving the sexual abuse of children and a member of the Illinois Children’s Justice Task Force.

Comments from Grado’s nominators included “Dr. Grado has made outstanding contributions to advancement of the understanding of cancer treatment, most notably, his research and development of advanced methods of treatment of prostate cancer...He has developed and taught brachytherapy programs worldwide for prostate cancer and is considered one of the world’s foremost accomplished brachytherapist.  He and his staff have dedicated their lives to educating physicians and healthcare professionals, patients and their families and friends diagnosed with cancer about treatment options available to them.” 

Nominators also said “Dr. Grado has never settled for second best and chose to offer his patients the absolute cutting edge in technology in cancer treatment no matter the cost.  He treats his patients with the human touch, making them feel comfortable and calmed, even when they are facing a very difficult stage in their lives…Dr. Grado established two cancer treatment centers in Mexico to offer quality cancer therapy to the people of Mexico.”  In recognition of his contributions, he was named a fellow of the American College of Radiation Oncology and of the American College of Radiology.  He was named the Wurtele Family Professor, a chair endowed to further research in prostate cancer (2006). 

Barnhart completed fellowships in faculty development at the University of North Carolina (1987) and at SIU (1985).  She completed her family medicine residency and received her medical degree at SIU (1984, 1981).  She earned her bachelor’s from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (1977).  Barnhart is board certified in family medicine.  She is a native of Champaign.

Grado completed his residency in radiation therapy at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Medicine (1981) and a diagnostic radiology internship at University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics (1978).  He earned his medical degree from SIU (1977) and his bachelor’s from Eastern Illinois University (1974).  Grado is board certified in therapeutic radiology and radiation oncology.   He is a native of Charleston.