For the first time in the hospital’s history, there are two recipients of the annual Amos Jacobs Award—the highest honor for St. Jude employees.
The honor goes to Aditya Gaur, MD, Occupational Health medical director, and Hana Hakim, MD, Infection Prevention and Control director, for their tireless work during the past year. Both physicians were key in helping to establish the hospital’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dr. Gaur’s and Dr. Hakim’s efforts have been truly exceptional during an unprecedented year. The duo has spent countless hours responding to the pandemic,” said St. Jude President and CEO James R. Downing, MD. “Their labors have resulted in the creation of one of the safest harbors against COVID-19 in the nation—ensuring the work of St. Jude continues for children in Memphis and beyond.”
“At a time when despair is spreading around the world, when uncertainty, anxiety and fear are prevailing in our communities, and when the world stops but work in health must continue, leaders who provide relief, guidance, knowledge and certainty in a humble and assertive way truly make a difference,” Hijano wrote in the nomination form.
“Aditya and Hana have been those leaders. Leaders who make an institution come together to understand how to get through the unimaginable. Leaders who bring a sense of hope and calm amid anguish. Leaders who put everything aside to think about our safety and well-being. Leaders who every institution would dream of having.”
Gaur, a native of India, joined St. Jude in 1999. Since 2014, he’s served as the medical director of Occupational Health and the clinical director in the Department of Infectious Diseases.
Much of Gaur’s work involves clinical research in prevention and treatment of HIV in children and youth. Yet, his focus over the past year—along with colleagues in Occupational Health and across various departments—has been on optimizing the institution’s pandemic response. This includes setting up a one-of-a-kind, risk-mitigation program for prevention and containment of COVID-19 that includes routine test-based screening.
“Each infection comes with its own challenges. That’s been particularly true for COVID-19. The evolving understanding of this virus and its spread has required learning and adapting as we go. The hospital’s response has been grounded in facts,” Gaur said. “There are so many at St. Jude to thank and credit for their unconditional service over the past year that has kept the campus safe and the care for our patients uninterrupted. They inspire me, keep me humble and make me look forward to coming to work each day.”
Originally from Lebanon, Hakim first came to St. Jude in 2005 for an Infectious Diseases fellowship. She followed that with a yearlong pediatric HIV fellowship at the hospital before transitioning into a role as associate faculty member, focusing on the study of fever and neutropenia in children. In 2012, she moved into her current role of medical director for Infection Prevention and Control, overseeing the hospital’s efforts to ensure a healthy and safe environment for patients, families and employees.
She has helped coordinate and prepare responses to potential measles and Ebola outbreaks, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new challenge filled with difficulties and challenges.
“A great strength of St. Jude is that we all work together to keep our patients safe,” Hakim said. “We’ve done that same thing during this pandemic, but we’ve focused on keeping everyone safe from the virus. Everyone at St. Jude has gone the extra step in response. That is powerful.”
The Amos Jacobs Award is named for St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, who was known as Amos Jacobs before adopting a stage name.
The honor is chosen from employees who were honored in the 2020 class of 5100 Club honorees, the hospital’s quarterly awards for staff.
In addition to Gaur and Hakim, this year’s 5100 Club honorees included Delia Carias, PharmD, Pharmaceutical Services; Audrey Cole, Hematology; Emmit Gooden, Materials Management; Shawn Hawkins, Technology Licensing; Jamie Maciaszek, PhD, Pathology; and Andrea Stubbs, Infectious Diseases.