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The Watanakunakorn Clinician Award

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Named to honor the memory of Dr. Chatrchai Watanakunakorn, this award is given annually to an IDSA member or fellow in recognition of outstanding achievement in the clinical practice of infectious diseases. 

Winners have spent most of their career working predominantly in direct clinical care, whether in private practice or part of a health-system group. The recipient must be in clinical practice and exhibit excellence in one or more of the following areas: Clinical care, clinical research, patient or community education, compassion, patient advocacy, general community service, and service to a national or state infectious diseases society. Local recognition in medical journals, newspapers or magazines will also be taken into consideration. 

2023 Winners: Karen C. Bloch, MPH, MD, FIDSA, and Richard C. Prokesch, MD, FIDSA 

Karen C. Bloch, MPH, MD, is happiest on the wards or in the exam rooms of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she cares for patients with patience, kindness and an encyclopedic knowledge of infectious diseases. Dr. Bloch has received Vanderbilt’s William Schaffner Teaching Award in Infectious Diseases four times and the Excellence in Patient Experience Award three times. 

Dr. Bloch is associate division director for clinical affairs and a professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her previous positions include medical director of the Infectious Diseases Clinic at Vanderbilt; section chief of infectious diseases at VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System; clinical instructor at Yale University School of Medicine; and clinician at San Francisco General Hospital, Alta Bates Medical Center and St. Thomas Hospital. 

In 2020, Dr. Bloch established the first infusion clinic in Middle Tennessee to provide remdesivir to patients with serious COVID-19 infection. The clinic treated thousands of patients at a time when remdesivir was not available at many hospital systems and clinics. In April 2022, Dr. Bloch received Vanderbilt’s Elevate Team Award for her work as medical director of the COVID Infusion Clinic. 

Considered the ID consultant’s consultant, Dr. Bloch’s colleagues at Vanderbilt and throughout the nation rely on her expertise to manage puzzling cases. Colleagues at Vanderbilt are inspired by her enthusiasm for infectious diseases. 

A fellow of IDSA, Dr. Bloch is currently a member of the Histoplasmosis Guidelines Working Group. She has also served on the Education Committee and the Selection Committee for Grants for Emerging Researchers/Clinicians Mentorship. She has also contributed to IDSA as an IDWeek abstract reviewer and lecturer. 

An international expert on encephalitis, meningitis and tick-borne infections, Dr. Bloch has published 55 articles in refereed journals, 16 book chapters and 29 invited reviews. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the section editor for the college’s Infectious Diseases Medical Knowledge Self-Assessment Program, now in its 20th edition.  

Dr. Bloch served on the Rickettsiosis Subgroup of the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, which prepared a report for Congress and the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. She has been a reviewer for several journals and the arboviruses chapter in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Red Book. 

IDSA is pleased to honor Dr. Bloch with a 2023 Watanakunakorn Award for her tireless work to improve the lives of patients with infectious diseases. 

Richard C. Prokesch, MD, FIDSA, was one of the first providers to truly care for, and not just treat, patients with HIV/AIDS. The founder of Infectious Diseases Associates, PC, in Riverdale, Georgia, Dr. Prokesch opened a hospice for AIDS patients in his practice in the early 1990s. The hospice provided patients with respectful and dignified end-of-life care at a time when AIDS was highly stigmatized. 

Dr. Prokesch founded his infectious diseases specialty practice in 1981, after completing his training. The practice provides patients of any race, religion or sexual orientation with compassionate care in a professional manner. Recently, he began using telehealth to treat patients in rural hospitals in Nebraska, Kansas and Wisconsin who wouldn’t otherwise have access to an ID specialist. 

Known for his kind, compassionate and calming bedside manner and clinical expertise, many of Dr. Prokesch’s patients have been seeing him for decades. Atlanta Magazine named Dr. Prokesch a “Top Doc” in infectious diseases for 13 consecutive years, most recently in 2022. 

Dr. Prokesch is also an ID consultant for the Clayton County Health Department, an adjunct clinical instructor in internal medicine and infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine and the southeastern representative for the American Association of HIV Medicine. He is a preceptor for outpatient experience at Emory University School of Medicine. 

As chairman of the Infection Control Committee at South Fulton Medical Center for 20 years, Dr. Prokesch led the development of safe and effective hospital processes. He has also served as chief of medicine at South Fulton Medical Center and Southern Regional Medical Center and as chief of staff at Southern Regional Medical Center. He is a fellow of IDSA, the American College of Physicians and the American Society for Microbiology. 

The Society is proud to recognize Dr. Prokesch with a 2023 Watanakunakorn Award for his compassionate and expert clinical care. 

Past Watanakunakorn Clinician Award Winners 

2022 Robin Dretler, MD, FIDSA
Patty Wright, MD, FIDSA
2021 Steven W. Parker, MD, FIDSA
2020 Ronald G. Nahass, M.D., MHCM, FIDSA
2019 Virginia D. Banks, MD, MBA, FIDSA
2018 Barry J. Hartman, MD, FIDSA
2017 Douglas R. Osmon, MD, MPH, FIDSA
2016 Wilbert H. Mason, MD, MPH, FIDSA
2015     James Horton, MD, FIDSA
2014      Eliot W. Godofsky, MD
2013      Johan S. Bakken, MD, PhD and Thomas M. File, Jr., MD, MSc
2012 David N. Gilbert, MD, FIDSA
2011 Stan Deresinski, MD, FIDSA
2010     Marvin J. Tenenbaum, MD, FIDSA
2009 Lawrence J. Eron, MD, FIDSA
2008 Michael L. Butera, MD
2007 Timothy T. Kuberski, MD, FIDSA
2006 Barbara H. Wade, MD, FIDSA
2005 James S. Tan, MD
2004 Donald M. Poretz, MD
2003 Steven Jon Berman, MD, FACP and Richard N. Olans, MD
2002 William A. Agger, MD
2001 H. Gunner Deery, MD and Peter T. Frame, MD
2000 Martin C. McHenry, MD, MS and Chatrchai Watanakunakorn, MD
1999 Gonzalo Ballon-Landa, MD and Thomas G. Slama, MD
1998 David S. McKinsey, MD and Daniel J. Sexton, MD
1997 Ramon E. Moncada, MD
1996 George Atkinson, MD Pankey, MD and Alan D. Tice, MD
1995 Ellie J.C. Goldstein, MD
1994 George Thornton, MD
1993 Edward Septimus, MD



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