Bigelow Medal Recipients

The Henry Jacob Bigelow Medal was endowed by Dr. Bigelow’s son, Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow, in 1915, and first awarded to Dr. William J. Mayo in June, 1921.

The 2023 Bigelow Medal and Award Dinner are Sponsored by Olympus

Click here for more on the history of the Bigelow Medal & its recipients in Chapter 3 of the BSS Red Book

All Bigelow Medal Recipients: 1921 to 2019



1921           William J. Mayo                        Rochester, MN

1922           William Williams Keen            Philadelphia, PA

1926           Rudolph Matas                        New Orleans, LA

1928           Chavalier Johnson                   Philadelphia, PA

1931           George Gray Turner                London, England

1932           J.M.T. Finney                              Baltimore, MD

1933           Harvey Cushing                        Boston, MA

1937           Edward Archibald                     Montréal, Quebec

1941           Allen O. Whipple                       New York, NY

1946           Frank H. Lahey                           Boston, MA

1947           Elliott Carr Cutler                       Boston, MA

1951           Evarts A. Graham                       St. Louis, MO

1955           Edward D. Churchill                   Boston, MA

1956           Arthur W. Allen                           Boston, MA

1961           Clarence Crafoord                      Stockholm, Sweden

1964           Alfred Blalock (posthumous)    Baltimore, MD

1964          Lester Dragstedt                          Gainesville, FL

1967           Charles B. Huggins                     Chicago, IL

1970           Robert Gross                               Boston, MA

1973           Francis D. Moore                        Boston, MA

1978           J. Englebert Dunphy                   San Francisco, CA

1982           John W. Kirklin                             Birmingham, AL

1986           Claude E. Welch                          Boston, MA

1989           Thomas Starzl                             Pittsburgh, PA

1990           Joseph E. Murray                        Boston, MA

1996           David C. Sabiston                       Durham, NC

2001           W. Hardy Hendren, III                Boston, MA

2003           Hermes C. Grillo                         Boston, MA

2005           M. Judah Folkman                      Boston, MA

2011           William Silen                               Boston, MA

2014           Murray Brennan                        New York, NY

2017           Lenworth W. Jacobs                  Hartford, CT

2019          John L. Cameron                         Baltimore, MD

30th Medalist - William Silen, MD. Boston, Massachusetts


The 96th Annual Meeting was held on December 5, 2011.  President Robert C. Shamberger brought the meeting to order with 142 members and guests present.  A true highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the 30th Bigelow Medal to William Silen, MD, Chair, Emeritus of Surgery at the Beth Israel Hospital and the Johnson and Johnson Professor of Surgery, Emeritus at Harvard Medical School.  We heard of Dr. Silen’s endless example of excellence across a remarkable career in academic surgery and medicine. Revered as the epitome mentor, Dr. Silen would become the first Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity at HMS.  Surrounded by several of his trainees, Dr. Silen was honored with a standing ovation as fitting recognition of his enormous contributions to surgery in general, but also to Boston in particular.

31st Medalist - Murray Brennan, MD. New York, New York


On February 10, 2014, the BSS convened to welcome a true legend in surgery and cancer care, Murray F. Brennan, MD of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.  During his one-of-a-kind address entitled “Evolution of Cancer Care”, 112 members and guests heard Dr. Brennan chronicle decades of care for thousands of sarcoma patients, demonstrating how evidence-based changes in care realized over time have become today’s standards.  Further, he offered parallel lessons learned in the progress of surgical care for other types of cancer.  Of course, this led to a long and spirited discussion.  The highlight of the evening though was the presentation of the 31st Bigelow Medal to Dr. Brennan by President David Brooks on behalf of the Boston Surgical Society, and the standing ovation that followed.

32nd Medalist - Lenworth Jacobs, MD. Hartford, Connecticut


On November 6, 2017 the Society met to award the 32nd Bigelow Medal to Lenworth W. Jacobs, MD, FACS, of Hartford Connecticut.  97 members and guests of the Society were in attendance, including Commissioner William Evans of the Boston Police Department, Mr. James Hooley, Chief of Boston Emergency Medical Services, and Mr. Richard Serino, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and former Deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Dr. Jacobs was honored for his long commitment to improved care of injured patients, and for his seminal work in organizing the Hartford Consensus, a group of healthcare professionals who came together after the tragic mass murders in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.   This panel was dedicated to the profoundly simple proposition that the earlier bleeding can be stopped, the more likely it is that a victim will survive.  Out of it arose the “Stop the Bleed” campaign sponsored by the American College of Surgeons.  This is an effort to teach first responders simple techniques to control hemorrhage in the field before help arrives.  Dr. Jacobs was the leader of this effort, and the wide dissemination of these techniques is already saving lives.

Please enjoy the 2017 Bigelow program

33rd Medalist - John L. Cameron, MD. Baltimore, Maryland


Dr. Frederick Millham presented Dr. John Cameron with the 33rd Henry Jacob Bigelow Medal on November 4, 2019, at the Harvard Club of Boston.  Dr. Cameron’s spectacular address, “The Bigelow Medal – Hopkins Connection: JMT Finney and more” captivated the 123 members and guests.  Details of the evening are further captured in the BSS Minutes for Fall 2019-Spring 2020.

For more on J.M.T. Finney (Mississippian, Princetonian, US Army Brigadier General, Johns Hopkins Surgeon, and first president of the American College of Surgeons) please click here.


34th Medalist - Angelita Habr-Gama, MD. Sao Paulo, Brazil

Angelita Habr-Gama, MD 

Dr. Marc Rubin presented Dr. Angelita Habr-Gama with the 34th Henry Jacob Bigelow medal on December 11, 2023, at the Harvard Club of Boston. Dr. Habr-Gama performed the research underpinning a non-operative approach to distal rectal cancer championing the use of chemoradiotherapy and watchful waiting for complete responders. This was a novel approach when she initiated her clinical trials and started publishing about it in the 1980s and 90s. Initially her ideas and work were dismissed, but she persisted – which was particularly challenging at that time for a woman surgeon, and a researcher working in a Latin American center rather than one in Europe or The United States. Today she is the recognized as the initiator of a paradigm shift in cancer care and her approach is accepted world-wide. Dr. Habr-Gama has been a trailblazer all her life being the first woman surgical trainee in Brazil, the first woman fellow at St. Marks Hospital in London and the first woman to become a professor of Surgery in Latin America. She also will be the first woman and the first Latin person to receive the Bigelow Medal.

Additionally, please enjoy this Annals of Surgery publication by Past-President H. Brownell Wheeler reflecting upon the history of the Bigelow Medal and the 1996 recipient David C. Sabiston, Jr, MD.