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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 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.

2022 Winners:

Robin Dretler, MD, FIDSA

Patty Wright, MD, FIDSA


Robin Dretler, MD, FIDSA, was one of the few infectious disease specialists in the Atlanta area in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. In 1983, Dr. Dretler established Infectious Disease Specialists of Atlanta, which is now the largest private practice in infectious diseases in the greater Atlanta area. A tireless advocate for patients, Dr. Dretler has contributed to policies to improve the quality of hospital care and conducted research that has led to new treatments for HIV, hepatitis C virus, and other infectious diseases.

Over 39 years, Dr. Dretler has served in many leadership positions at Emory Decatur Hospital (formerly Dekalb Medical Center), including his current role as chair of the Professional Practice Evaluation Committee. Dr. Dretler has also served as chief of staff of the Executive Committee and chair of the Department of Medicine. He is a long-time participant on the Infection Control, Quality Assurance and Graduate Medical Education committees.

As a principal investigator on more than 100 clinical trials, Dr. Dretler has contributed to the development of nearly every approved HIV medication as well as many HCV and antimicrobial drugs. Through this research, Dr. Dretler has given countless patients, including those who are uninsured, access to state-of-the-art therapy.

Dr. Dretler has taught and mentored students, residents, clinical investigators and his partners. The winner of three teacher of the year awards (two from DeKalb Medical Center and one from Northlake Regional Medical Center), Dr. Dretler currently directs the DeKalb Medical Center Podiatric Residency Program in Infectious Diseases. He is a past director of the Northlake Regional Medical Center Podiatric Residency Program in Infectious Diseases and has served on the adjunct faculty of Emory University and as a clinical preceptor at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

From 1984 to1990, Dr. Dretler served as president of the Infectious Disease Society of Georgia. He is a fellow of IDSA and has been named a Top Doctor by Atlanta Magazine since 2010. To his partners, Dr. Dretler is a mentor and a standard bearer on the appropriate practice of infectious diseases medicine.

The Society is pleased to honor Dr. Dretler with a 2022 Watanakunakorn Award for his tireless work to improve the lives of patients with infectious diseases.


Patty Wright, MD, FIDSA, is a leader in medical education and clinical care who focuses on both infectious diseases and key skills related to the practice of medicine such as communication, job searches, and wellness and resiliency. A role model for women in medicine who exemplifies professionalism and expertise in clinical practice, Dr. Wright teaches medical students, residents and infectious disease fellows.

Dr. Wright is a professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and chief of staff for Adult Ambulatory Services in Davidson County at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her previous positions include medical director of the Infectious Diseases Clinic; executive medical director of the Medicine Patient Care Center; and safety officer for Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention.

From 2007 to 2015, Dr. Wright served as associate program director or program director of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Training Program at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Many of her lectures are part of the core curriculum lecture series for this program.

Known as a practical teacher, Dr. Wright facilitates successful careers in medicine through her lectures on communication skills, job hunting and career opportunities. Her lectures on wellness, resiliency and work/life balance help medical students, residents and fellows deal with the demands of the practice of medicine.

A fellow of IDSA, Dr. Wright is a frequent presenter at Society meetings, including the Clinical Fellows Meeting. She is vice chair of IDSA’s Clinical Fellow’s Planning Committee and has also served as a member of the Training Program Directors National Committee.

At IDWeek, Dr. Wright has directed and moderated the Vincent T. Andriole Infectious Diseases Board Review Course eight times. In addition, she is a frequent panelist and lecturer. Dr. Wright has also served on the board of directors and the executive committee of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine.

Dr.  Wright received the William Schaffner Teaching Award in Infectious Diseases from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. As part of the Vanderbilt’s COVID RX Team, Dr. Wright also received the President’s Award from the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Elevate Team Award from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The Society is pleased to add a 2022 Watanakunakorn Award to Dr. Wright’s other awards in recognition of her leadership in education and clinical care.

Past Watanakunakorn Clinician Award Winners 


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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