Steven J. Phillips ’62 was recently awarded the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award by Tufts University, his medical school alma mater. He was presented the award during the Tufts Alumni Awards ceremony on Saturday, April 21.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted when I found out that I’d been chosen to receive this award,” says Phillips, who currently serves as the Associate Director, National Library of Medicine and the Director of the Division of Specialized Information Services at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes Health, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “I think, apart from representing a cross section of disciplines, I personally feel that my contribution was in pioneering emergency interventions for people having heart attacks. Doing that in 1974 was frowned upon, but became widely accepted when we published our results, which demonstrated that emergency bypass surgery was a very efficacious procedure, which reduced the mortality rate for heart attacks from 20+% to less than one percent. Even more importantly, emergency intervention is today’s standard treatment.”
The award is presented to an alumnus who has made significant contributions to his or her profession and community.
He is noted for inspiring students – something that Phillips strives to do every day. ” I try very hard to work with students, from junior high to college students, medical students and young doctors,” says Phillips. “I do my best to encourage students to seek a career in science, whether that means the medical field, research institutions or some other aspect of science, because everyone in that spectrum is important.”
Phillips notes that the Colleges were integral in helping him to pursue his career goals and become the community-oriented person that he is today.
“Coming to Hobart was a real shock for me because I realized I wasn’t prepared for college,” confesses Phillips. “However, despite some low grades my first semester, my professors recognized my motivation to go to medical school. They encouraged me to work hard and be diverse. I was an Orange Key, served as vice president on the Independent Council, played lacrosse, made the Deans list, and was accepted into medical school. These experiences really helped open my eyes to the world.”
In 2006 the NLM asked Dr. Phillips to lead the effort to establish a Disaster Information Management Research Center. This Center, totally devoted to disaster informatics, is the first of its kind in the world. Dr. Phillips is a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Catastrophic Events. He serves a COO of the Bethesda Hospital Emergency Partnership Program (BHEPP), a congressionally funded program to respond to a national capitol Disaster and to create a hospital surge model for the U.S. He is a member of the congressionally mandated Department of Defense Task Force on the Care, Management, and Transition of recovering Wounded, Ill, and Injured Members of the Armed Forces.
Dr. Phillips is board certified both in general and thoracic surgery. He co-founded what became the Iowa Heart Center, which by the time of his retirement employed 58 physicians, all-specializing in cardiovascular disease. In 1974, he pioneered techniques for emergency coronary bypass surgery for evolving heart attacks, implanted heart assist pumps and Jarvik artificial hearts, and was a UNOS certified heart transplant surgeon.
In 1997, Dr. Phillips was interviewed by the White House search committee for the position of Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. He was invited to testify before the Full Committee on Commerce as a witness on the Implementation of the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997.
Dr. Phillips served twice in Vietnam from 1968-70 and he remained a reservist until 1993. He is a life member of the 101st Airborne Association and an Associate Life member of the UDT/SEAL Association. He sits on the Board of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Reception Center and he is a member of numerous professional societies and journal boards. He has served as President of the American Society of Artificial Internal Organs, the Society of Cardiac Surgeons, Spain, and the Polk County Medical Society, Iowa. Dr. Phillips has approximately 120 peer reviewed medical publications, and he has been granted 6 patents. His National security clearance is Top Secret.
Phillips received a bachelor’s in biology and chemistry from Hobart College in 1962 and his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1966.