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BMC Pediatrician Honored with AMA Foundation Excellence in Medicine Award

June 09, 2015

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(Boston) - June 9, 2015 - Sean Palfrey, MD, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center (BMC), has been named a recipient of an American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation 2015 Excellence in Medicine Award. Palfrey was presented the Jack B. McConnell, MD, Award for Excellence in Volunteerism, which honors a senior (older than 55 years) physician’s commitment to volunteer medical care provided to those without access to health care in the United States, during the AMA Foundation Donor Reception on June 5 in Chicago. This is the second year in a row that a BMC physician has received an Excellence in Medicine Award from the AMA.

Palfrey, also a professor of pediatrics and community health sciences at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Public Health, has dedicated his life’s work to improving and advocating for children’s health. He has cared for pediatric patients at BMC for more than 25 years, and in addition to treating children’s immediate medical issues, he writes prescriptions for BMC’s Food Pantry if a patient or family needs help putting food on the table and helps make sure that they have a safe place to live.

As an advocate, Palfrey strives to protect children from lead poisoning, infectious diseases and gun violence. He’s been a pioneer in raising awareness of the importance of vaccinations (he founded the Immunization Initiative of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics in the early 1990s), as well as protecting innocent children from violence related to guns in homes.

However, it’s not just children’s lives that Palfrey affects; he also serves as a mentor and friend to hundreds of college students who call Harvard University’s Adams House home. A graduate of Harvard College, Palfrey and his wife Judy Palfrey, also a pediatrician, have served as the house masters for 16 years. In their role, they oversee the community in which 460 Harvard students live, study, sleep and play.

“We teach, mentor, support, eat, play, learn, and celebrate with them their successes and failures. We write their college letters of recommendation and hand them their Harvard diplomas at graduation. Our students are many of our closest and dearest friends we have both while they are living in Adams House and over the years after,” said Palfrey.

Each year, the AMA Foundation Excellence in Medicine Awards program recognizes a select group of physicians who exemplify the medical profession's highest values: leadership, community service and dedication to treating underserved patients. Palfrey’s award includes a $2,500 grant that will be presented to the Judy and Sean Palfrey Advocacy Fund.

Last year, Deborah Frank, MD, also a BMC pediatrician and director of BMC’s Grow Clinic, received the AMA Foundation’s Dr. Debasish Mridha Spirit of Medicine Award for demonstrated altruism, compassion, integrity, leadership, and personal sacrifice while providing quality health care to a destitute, distressed, or marginalized population in an impoverished community.

About American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation
The AMA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation, is improving the health of Americans through philanthropic support of quality programs in public health and medical education. To join the AMA Foundation in supporting medical heroes like the Excellence in Medicine Award winners, visit