Katrina Armstrong and Patrick Conway received the Penn LDI John M. Eisenberg Pioneer Award
Photo: Hoag Levins
On stage at the Penn LDI 50th Anniversary awards luncheon are DD Eisenberg, wife of award namesake John Eisenberg, Katrina Armstrong, award recipient and J. Sanford (Sandy) Schwartz, Penn Medicine Professor and former Executive Director of LDI.

Cited for their achievements and rise to some of the highest health care posts in government and academic medicine, University of Pennsylvania alumni and former LDI Senior Fellows Katrina Armstrong and Patrick Conway received the Penn LDI John M. Eisenberg Pioneer Award at a Oct. 5 ceremony that was part of the two-day LDI 50th Anniversary Symposium.

Attended by more than 450 academics and health care industry executives from across the country, the award luncheon in the Woodlands ballroom of the Inn at Penn was part of the two-day symposium that was a high point of LDI’s year-long 50th Anniversary celebration.

Both Armstrong and Conway were pioneers in their field in 2013 — she breaking new ground when named Massachusetts General Hospital’s first female Physician-in-Chief and he when named the Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI).

The luncheon award session was opened by Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Dean of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, who noted the historical significance of the event. He was followed by LDI Executive Director Dan Polsky who paid tribute to both the late Robert Eilers and Samuel Martin, LDI’s first two executive directors, and to the four living former LDI executive directors who were in attendance: William PierskallaMark PaulyJ. Sanford (Sandy) Schwartz and David Asch.

Gathered together at the LDI 50th Anniversary Symposium were the current and four of the former executive directors of Penn's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI).
Photo: Hoag Levins
Gathered together at the LDI 50th Anniversary Symposium were the current and four of the former executive directors of LDI: J. Sanford Schwartz, William Pierskalla, Mark Pauly, Dan Polsky and David Asch.

Namesake’s legacy
At the podium, former Chief of Penn Medicine’s Division of General Medicine and current Physician-in-Chief and Chair of the Department of General Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Armstrong spoke of the legacy of the award’s namesake.

John Eisenberg, MD, was Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). His achievements there  made him one of the most influential professionals in the world of heath services research. Earlier, he spent the first 20 years of his career at Penn as a RWJF Clinical Scholar, LDI Senior Fellow, innovative researcher, professor and the founding Chief of Penn Medicine’s Division of General Internal Medicine.

John Eisenberg, MD

“John’s impact on health care inspires me every day,” Armstrong told the audience. “It is incredibly humbling to receive this award in his name.

“John, along with other LDI leaders like Mark Pauly and William Kissick, transmitted a commitment to the health and health care of this country that goes from generation to generation,” she continued. “What John taught his trainees they taught me and that’s what I try every day to bring to the people in training at Massachusetts General Hospital. That intergenerational transmission is invaluable and I really can see John across the current generations in the field right now.” 

Penn mentors
Armstrong was presented the Eisenberg Award by Penn Professor and her former mentor at Penn, Sandy Schwartz. Another of her former Penn mentors, David Asch sat in the audience. She noted how both had changed her life and epitomized how powerful academic mentors can be.

“The small thing that you do for your mentees,” she said, “the times you take them along matter more than anything else. That is what they did and the same thing John Eisenberg did. Mentors are unbelievably important; theirs is a gift of love, kindness and generosity.”

Standing with Armstrong and Schwartz on the stage was DD Eisenberg, John’s wife of 32 years. “This is very exciting and so rewarding to know that 15 years after his passing, John’s legacy moves on and that would have made him so pleased and happy.”

‘Exemplar model’
Awardee Patrick Conway was not able to attend because he has just assumed a new job as President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. In a message to the audience, he said “I am honored to receive the LDI 50th anniversary John M. Eisenberg award. Penn and LDI were instrumental in my development and LDI is an exemplar model. The leadership and faculty at LDI are unparalleled and a major asset to our field.”

Armstrong, MD, is the Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine at Harvard Medical School and along with being Physician-in-Chief is also Chair of the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General. She was previously the Chief of Penn Medicine’s Division of General Internal Medicine, Associate Director of the Abramson Cancer Center and Co-Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars program at Penn.

Until August, Conway, MD, was CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of CMMI. As the head of CMMI, he was a leader in the effort to transition the health care system from a fee-for-service to a value-based model. Previously he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at Penn and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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