At the MGH, medical and scientific innovations take place almost on a daily basis. Likewise, as the costs associated with providing optimal care constantly increase, the hospital's management and leadership work to ensure that services are delivered as efficiently as possible. The Nathaniel Bowditch Prize, established in 2000, is designed to recognize those clinicians whose work fuses these strands of innovation by increasing the quality of health care while reducing its cost. This year's winner is John A. Parrish, MD, the former chief of MGH Dermatology.
Established by a gift from Charles and Nancy Munger through the Alfred C. Munger Foundation, the award is named in honor of Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838), a pioneer in celestial navigation whose sons served the MGH in many capacities. The award's recipient — nominated by peers and selected from among a group of finalists by a committee of hospital leaders — receives a grant of $5,000 from the MGH Board of Trustees.
A leader in modern dermatology, Parrish's innovations in ambulatory therapy, such as the use of ultraviolet light to treat skin disease, effectively eliminated the need for inpatient dermatology over the last 30 years. In addition, his work with lasers has led to breakthroughs in the treatment of kidney stones and gallstones. At the MGH, Parrish established the Center for the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, the Cutaneous Biology Research Center and the Wellman Center for Photomedicine.
CREATIVE MINDS: From left, Warshaw, Slavin, Parrish and Stephen Woodsum, a member of the MGH Board of Trustees
Speakers at the April 11 ceremony included Andrew L. Warshaw, MD, MGH surgeon-in-chief and chair of the prize selection committee; Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president; and David Torchiana, MD, MGPO chairman and chief executive officer. Warshaw remarked that the nominees represent "a special type of creativity." Slavin thanked the Board of Trustees and observed that the award "celebrates individuals and team contributions to quality and efficiency."
Upon accepting the award, Parrish spoke of his career at the MGH as "three different careers." He remarked, "First, I was a clinician, working on the front lines. Then, I created treatments. Now, I create environments in which others can develop new diagnostics. None of this would be possible without the support of the MGH leadership."