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Elizabeth A. Rich, MD Award

2015 Women's Forum at International Conference, Denver, CO

Nominations for the 2016 Elizabeth A. Rich, MD is now closed. The award will be presented at the ATS International Conference in San Francisco, California during the Women's Forum on Monday, May 16, 2016.

Since 2000, the ATS Membership Committee has presented the Elizabeth A. Rich, MD award to an outstanding woman in ATS who has made significant contributions in the fields of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. The award is presented on behalf of Elizabeth A. Rich, MD, a respected ATS member, a mentor, and peer who died tragically at the age of 46 years old. The award recognizes Elizabeth’s dedication and contributions to the field of lung disease research and her position as a female role model and mentor.

Criteria. To be nominated for the annual Elizabeth A. Rich, MD Award, a candidate should be an outstanding woman who:

  • Has made significant contributions in the fields of pulmonary, critical care and/or sleep medicine,
  • Is an ATS member and has made contributions to the ATS,
  • Is a leader and has mentored others.

The awardee is recognized at the Women’s Forum at the ATS International Conference at which she is invited to speak. She will also be recognized on the ATS web site.

Nominations. To nominate someone for this award:

  • Complete the award nomination form
  • Provide a few paragraphs explaining why you are nominating this person and how they meet the criteria for the award
  • Attach the nominee’s current curriculum vitae

Elizabeth Rich 2015

Cynthia Rand, PhD (right), 2015 Elizabeth Rich, MD Award recipient, with Yolanda Mageto (left)

Over the years the ATS Membership Committee has presented this distinguished award to talented and outstanding women, including:


Cynthia Rand, PhD


Deborah Cook, MD


J. Usha Raj, MD


Polly A. Parsons, MD


Suzanne Lareau, RN, MS, FAAN   


Sally E. Wenzel, MD


Pamela Zeitlin, MD, PhD


Lynn M. Schnapp, MD


Serpil Erzurum, MD


Claire M. Doerschuk, MD


Sharon I.S. Rounds, MD


Deborah Shure, MD


Patricia W. Finn, MD


Molly L. Osborne, MD, PhD


Pamela Davis, MD, PhD


Jeanine Wiener-Kronish, MD

About Elizabeth A. Rich, MD

Elizabeth Rich

Elizabeth A. Rich, MD, was born in Baton Rouge, LA and earned her bachelors degree from Memphis State. She went on to received her MD from the University of Tennessee and completed her internship and residency at the City of Memphis Hospital. When she finished her residency, she pursued her love of the violin for six months in France, returning to conduct research in laboratories at the University of Tennessee while supporting herself by moonlighting in the emergency room. Elizabeth’s goal was to become a first rate pulmonary immunologist, and in 1982 she moved to Case Western Reserve University for a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. She soon became an independent world renowned expert in the pulmonary alveolar macrophage, tuberculosis, and AIDS. Her research portfolio grew to include major research programs in tuberculosis and AIDS, and her laboratory attracted numerous trainees, whom she mentored with characteristic respect, verve, and vision.

Elizabeth’s personal creativity spilled into her work and was characterized by novel thinking and insights into the function of the lung. Her dedication to finding the truth, her willingness to question dogma (including her own), her sly sense of humor, and her full engagement in life made her a sought-after mentor and treasured friend. At the time of her death, Elizabeth’s grant portfolio totaled about four million dollars and included, near and dear to her heart, a T32 training grant in pulmonary immunology. She was killed in a traffic accident in July of 1998, at the age of 46, and left a considerable scientific and personal legacy.

Written by Pamela David, MD, PhD (Elizabeth was Pamela’s former fellow)

Last Reviewed: July 2015