Robert Miller, Dallas Morning NewsSWMF_DLeverenz

The Southwestern Medical Foundation has named Dr. David Leverenz the winner of the 2013 Ho Din Award. The award is the top honor bestowed on an outstanding senior at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The Ho Din celebrates its 70th birthday in 2013. It recognizes students who show a deep level of human understanding, compassion and other qualities inherent in great physicians.

“I am incredibly honored and so thankful to the Foundation,” Leverenz said. “I look forward to building the rest of my career on what I learned from all the great experiences I’ve had at UT Southwestern.”

“The Foundation’s grants and scholarships play a vital role in supporting the medical center and transforming the careers of the next generation of leaders in patient care, biomedical science and disease prevention,” said William T. Solomon, foundation board chairman. “None of this can happen without the strong support of foundation donors.”

The award, which includes a cash prize, honors Dr. Edward H. Cary, the first president of the Southwestern Medical Foundation.

Named in 1943, Ho Din stands for “the spirit of medical wisdom and human understanding.” Dr. Knox E. Miller and Maj. Gen. W. Lee Hart created the phrase to serve as a motto signifying the award’s importance.

Many Ho Din recipients go on to achieve the highest levels of success in their fields. Dr. Joseph L. Goldstein, the 1966 Ho Din Award winner, was co-winner of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1985, making him the first UT Southwestern Medical School graduate to win a Nobel.

“Looking at the list of past winners, I am extremely humbled,” Leverenz said. “The Ho Din Award has such a great history, and its winners have accomplished so much.”

“What strikes me most about David is his caring, sincere, compassionate personality,” said Dr. David Balis, associate professor of internal medicine and Leverenz’s mentor at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “It’s obvious that he really does care about his patients in his interactions with them.”

A native of Fort Worth, Leverenz has conducted research, worked, volunteered and completed multiple mission trips in addition to performing exceptionally well academically. He also received the Richard Mays Smith Scholarship Award, which was established to honor one of Dallas’ earliest internists, a former UT Southwestern associate professor of internal medicine who died in 1975.

Leverenz will move to Nashville, Tenn., with his wife, Molly, and serve his residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He plans to focus on internal medicine and may specialize in oncology or rheumatology.

“No matter what I’m doing, I’ll always love interacting with patients,” Leverenz said. “I love listening to their story, gaining their trust and partnering with them in improving their health. That’s what gets me excited in the morning.”

Balis and other mentors at UT Southwestern taught him “how to stay connected to patients on so many different levels,” he said.

“I’m extremely grateful to all my mentors and to Southwestern Medical Foundation for this inspiring honor.”