WILBERT H. MASON, MD, MPH, FIDSA, a consummate pediatric ID clinician, teacher, and researcher for more than 40 years, is the recipient of IDSA’s 2016 Watanakunakorn Clinician Award. Named to honor the memory of Chatrchai Watanakunakorn, this award is presented by the IDSA Education and Research Foundation to recognize an IDSA member or fellow for outstanding achievement in the clinical practice of infectious diseases.
Emeritus professor of clinical pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Dr. Mason has spent his career working on behalf of children and their families, starting as an intern at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) in 1970 and continuing through his retirement in 2013. In between, he held several leadership positions at CHLA, including head of the Division of Infectious Diseases and chief medical quality officer, inspiring his colleagues with his humility and uncanny clinical judgment. Despite his retirement, he maintains an active clinical role as a physician at the University of California, Davis, and remains available to former colleagues who continue to rely on his wise advice and passionate commitment to the care of pediatric patients.
Recognized for his ability to thoughtfully approach clinical problems and strong ability to recognize disease patterns, Dr. Mason took particular interest in Kawasaki disease in the 1970s. He has been a co-investigator on many publications in the field, including several important early studies of the disease and its therapy, and has become one of the most trusted clinicians and consultants taking care of Kawasaki patients in California. Dr. Mason has taken an active role in standardizing and improving the care of these patients throughout Southern California and elsewhere. For several years after his retirement, he continued as the sole ID practitioner in CHLA’s Kawasaki Clinic, which has cared for more than 1,000 Kawasaki patients over the last 25 years.
In addition to Kawasaki disease, Dr. Mason’s research has included the implementation of evidence-based medicine through the use of clinical practice guidelines and the study and promotion of medical safety in pediatrics. He led several CHLA committees focused on quality improvement and other areas, and served as medical director for quality systems management and resource utilization at CHLA from 1995 to 2009, providing leadership to the hospital and faculty in the areas of quality and performance improvement.
Dr. Mason received a medical degree from the University of California, Irvine, and completed his internship, residency, and infectious disease fellowship training at CHLA. He also earned a master of public health degree in epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has authored more than 50 publications in peer-reviewed journals and more than 30 book chapters and invited articles, and has delivered more than 200 invited lectures on a variety of infectious disease topics. Named a Castle Connolly Top Doctor from 2001 through 2011, Dr. Mason has received numerous CHLA awards, including the Victor E. Stork Award (1977), the Distinguished Service Award (1990), and the Philip E. Rothman Memorial Award for Outstanding Teaching (1975-1976, 1991-1992).
For his unparalleled dedication and commitment to patient care throughout his career, which has been a model for all who have trained and worked with him, IDSA is proud to recognize Dr. Mason with the 2016 Watanakunakorn Award.
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