Diehl Receives National Award For Inspiring Students 

July 9, 2018
By: Julie Poucher Harbin, Writer, DCI

Anna Mae E. Diehl, MD, the Florence McAllister Professor of Medicine and professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, was recently named to receive the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award, a national award given annually by the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust.

The award is given to current or former academic faculty members who have inspired their former students to "create an organization which has demonstrably conferred a benefit on the community at large" or "establish on a lasting basis a concept, procedure or movement of comparable benefit to the community at large." It was established in 2008 by Gail McKnight Beckman to honor the memory of her mother, Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman, an educator and pioneer in the field of psychology.

Diehl, a hepatologist, is director of Duke Liver Center. A pioneer and international leader in the field of liver growth and pathobiology, she has conducted seminal research in many areas, including liver regeneration, the role of cytokines in liver disease and hepatocellular cancer. Over the scope of her career, she has educated more than 100 mentees — physicians and researchers who are now working across the globe.

“I was humbled to have been selected for this honor by the Beckman trust,” said Diehl. “Truly the best part of my academic career has been the opportunities I've had to work with talented and motivated young people who are passionate about making a difference in the world. My mentees make me proud. I follow their progress with great joy.”

Diehl was nominated for the award by mentees Manal Abdelmalek, MD, PhD, a hepatologist and liver transplant specialist at Duke, and Jude Oben, MD, PhD, an associate professor and consultant hepatologist at University College London, Institute for Liver and Digestive Health, and Royal Free Hospital.

When Diehl began her career in gastroenterology/hepatology, there were very few women in the field. Those who have worked with her say she has served as a role model for women entering the field.    

“Paradigm-shifting scientific work that has contributed to care and management of patients with liver disease, as well as new developing therapies for such patients, is a pinnacle of success for any person, let alone a woman in academic medicine,” said Abdelmalek, who is partnering with Diehl in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease research. “Dr. Diehl has inspired all her students to think big and do great things for the field and the world around us.”

Oben, a post-doctoral fellow with Diehl when she was at Johns Hopkins University from 2001 to 2003, expressed his pride in “our academic mother.” He said that Diehl inspired his clinical and basic science work on raising awareness of obesity and its negative consequences on the liver.

Diehl has been the recipient of National Institutes of Health grants for many years and has authored more than 250 peer-reviewed articles. She has received numerous national awards, and in November of last year Diehl received both a Distinguished Alumni Award and a Distinguished Faculty Award from Duke.

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A, trustee, will present the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award to Diehl, which comes with a one-time cash award of $25,000, at a ceremony on Nov. 3 in Atlanta, Georgia.