Five eminent physicians recently were honored and received the UTMB Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award.

The honorees are Drs. Bohn D. Allen, class of 1961; Gerald Callas, class of 1967; Mark W. Newton, class of 1987; John D. Oswalt, class of 1971; and Frank C. Schmalstieg, class of 1972. They were honored June 2 at the UTMB School of Medicine class of 2012 commencement ceremony.
The Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award — the highest honor bestowed by the university’s School of Medicine Alumni Association — recognizes outstanding service to the medical profession and to humanity. It honors the memory of Dr. Ashbel Smith, a prominent figure in Texas medicine, politics and education. Smith was instrumental in establishing the University of Texas at Austin in 1881 and, in 1891, a medical department in Galveston that would become UTMB.
Dr. Donald S. Prough, provost and interim dean of the UTMB School of Medicine, said that he was especially proud of the honorees.
“Because of their dedication and passion for their profession, thousands of people are living better lives,” Prough said. “We are honored to have physicians of this stature in the family. They have a commitment to serve their patients, their profession and their communities, and they have succeeded. We are extraordinarily proud to honor this year’s award recipients for their contributions both to UTMB and to their communities.”
Dr. William F. Price, president of the UTMB School of Medicine Alumni Association, said that the newest awardees “have illustrated throughout their professional careers the virtues and exemplars inherent in Dr. Smith and the noblest traditions of medicine. UTMB has a long and distinguished history of producing outstanding physicians and we are proud of all of our graduates but these five richly deserve the special commendation they have received.”
Allen, a general surgeon, served 12 years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and was a consultant for the treatment and evacuation of burned patients for the Far East Command during the Vietnam War. He now serves as the physician director of the Outpatient Surgery Clinic at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, following 32 years in private practice. He is a past president of the Texas Surgical Society, was a Texas delegate to the American Medical Association for 16 years, has testified before Congress and is a recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Medical Association. .
Callas received his doctorate in 1966 and his medical degree a year later. He spent his career giving aspiring physicians the biomedical knowledge that is the foundation of medical practice. His gross anatomy class was voted Best Course Award Freshman Year for seven years. He has crossed paths with nearly every medical student for the last 40 years. He paid for his education by teaching gymnastics and, with his wife Carolyn, owned a dance academy for 47 years.
Newton is an associate clinical professor of anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a pediatric anesthesiologist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. He was instrumental in founding, and serves as director of, the Vanderbilt International Anesthesia program, a global service, education and research program focusing on anesthesia and ICU issues in low income countries. His interest in international medical work began while he was a student at UTMB and that medical mission work has continued throughout his career. His humanitarian efforts were recognized by the American Medical Association in 2012 with the Dr. Nathan Davis Award in Medicine, named for the AMA’s founder and presented to physicians whose influence reaches the international patient population and changes the future of their medical care.
Oswalt is a member of the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons in Austin, which he joined in 1980 following his residencies and service as a flight surgeon in the United States Air Force. He was organizer and chairman of the heart transplant program at Seton Medical Center and performed the first heart transplant in central Texas. He founded the Seton Heart Transplant Fund, which helps patients with medications after transplant and was a founding member of the Texas Transplant Society. He is the founder of HeartGift Foundation, an organization that brings children from developing countries who have congenital heart defects to the United States for life-saving surgery and care, provided pro bono.
Schmalstieg’s first degree was a doctorate in physical organic chemistry before he became interested in applying his background to medicine. After completing a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in allergy and immunology, he joined the faculty of medicine as an assistant professor in 1977. He has made significant contributions to understanding the molecular defects in leukocyte adherence syndrome and X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency. His ongoing research on the mechanisms of severe lung injury in burn patients has resulted in a general molecular understanding of the condition and revealed potential treatments for victims of the devastating injury.