Past Award Recipients

Five University of Minnesota Medical School alumni were honored for their work in the service of the medical profession at the Medical School Alumni Awards Banquet on Thursday, September 22, at the McNamara Alumni Center.

The Harold S. Diehl Award is granted to individuals who have made outstanding professional contributions to the Medical School, the University, and the community. It was established in honor of the Medical School’s fifth dean, Harold Sheely Diehl, M.D.

Wesley Miller photo

Wesley J. Miller, M.D.

With spirited intelligence and a relentless pursuit of excellence, Miller has been an innovative leader in medical education at the University for four decades. A member of the residency class of 1977, Miller has shared his joy for learning and expertise in evidence-based medicine with students and peers alike. He has received 12 distinguished teaching awards and has humbly made time to partake in daily educational opportunities, even during the seven years he served the Medical School as Department of Medicine chair. Miller’s colleagues know him as a skillful, bright, compassionate, hands-on teacher. 

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes University of Minnesota Medical School alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their communities—at the local, regional, or national level—through medical practice, teaching, research, or other humanitarian activities.

Marci Bowers photo

Marci L. Bowers, M.D.

A member of the Medical School Class of 1986, Bowers is a renowned transgender surgeon and a compassionate, dedicated humanitarian committed to delivering care for marginalized and underserved communities. She helped to establish Mount Sinai Health System’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, one of the first of its kind in the nation; and helped to re-establish the transgender surgery program at Shiba Medical Center on Tel Hashomer in Tel Aviv. She also has provided reconstructive surgery to hundreds of women who have experienced genital mutilation throughout the world. With grace, warmth, and skill, Bowers has brought legitimacy, professionalism, and quality to the often stigmatized field of transgender health care. 

Steven Koop photo

Steven E. Koop, M.D.

Koop has dedicated his career to children and families affected by pediatric musculoskeletal disabilities. A member of the Medical School Class of 1979, Koop founded Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s motion and gait analysis lab in 1987 and has served as Medical Director since 2001. He has helped Gillette become a world leader in providing care for children and young adults with cerebral palsy and other childhood-onset disabilities. He has shared his expertise with care providers at an Ecuadorian hospital who treat children with very complex medical conditions who would otherwise not be receiving treatment. Also a deacon in the Catholic Church, Koop is known as a conscientious, intelligent, kind leader by example. 

Penny Wheeler photo

Penny A. Wheeler, M.D.

Often touting the fact that she is a “triple Gopher,” having received her undergraduate and medical degrees and an executive program certificate at the University, Wheeler has been a champion for quality care and patient safety throughout her career. Now as president and CEO of Allina Health, she is passionate about putting patients first while using data to determine their best care. She envisioned and implemented service lines that knit together the continuum of care, decrease waste, and enhance quality. Wheeler, a 1984 graduate of the Medical School, is known for her disarming yet relentless influence to create widespread change. 

The Early Distinguished Career Alumni Award is given to a physician for exceptional accomplishments within 15 years of graduating from or completing their residency at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Joel Oberstar photo

Joel V. Oberstar, M.D.

A member of the Medical School Class of 2001, Oberstar is a tireless advocate for children struggling with mental illness. He is regarded as one of the most highly skilled child psychiatrists in the community and is a scholar in the area of evidence-based child psychotherapy services. In his current role as CEO of PrairieCare and PrairieCare Medical Group, he helps to create policies supporting and developing mental health services for youth, with an overarching goal of expanding these services for children and adolescents in Minnesota. Colleagues say Oberstar is considerate, kind, and generous with his time.