Dennis W. Jahnigen Memorial Award

The Dennis W. Jahnigen Memorial Award is given annually to an AGS member who has provided leadership to train students in geriatrics and has contributed significantly to the progress of geriatrics education in health professions schools. Teaching expertise, as well as educational program development, is valued in the selection of the recipient for this honor.

2023 Recipient: Kathryn Denson, MD

Kathryn Denson, MD, will be honored with the 2023 Dennis W. Jahnigen Memorial Award for her many contributions to improving the knowledge, competence, and skills of all health professionals who care for older adults. Dr. Denson is recognized for her lasting innovation and exceptional teaching expertise and is celebrated for her many important contributions to the advancement of Geriatrics education.

Dr. Denson, a Professor of Medicine, is Chief of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and Chief of Geriatrics at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. A 2003 recipient of a Geriatrics Academic Career Award (GACA) from the Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA), she is known for developing innovative approaches to educating the healthcare workforce and for disseminating these approaches and materials widely through publications and presentations. One example of this impact is her work as chief editor and co-creator of, an internationally accessed online resource containing over 100 brief, clinically actionable reviews of geriatrics topics.

In addition to the GACA Award, Dr. Denson has been funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, The John A. Hartford Foundation, and has also served as a Co-Investigator for a Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) award from HRSA. Currently, she is the Principal Investigator for an Advancing Healthier Wisconsin award to educate interprofessional health professions students from medicine, nursing, and pharmacy to serve as geriatrics champions in their respective disciplines and to advocate for improved dementia caregiver support.

The AGS will present the award to Dr. Denson at the AGS 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting (#AGS23) taking place in Long Beach, CA, May 4-6 (preconference day May 3rd). 

“Dr. Denson is a much beloved member of the AGS community who is known for her quiet, effective leadership and for her passion for spreading geriatrics knowledge and expertise to other specialties and disciplines,“ said AGS President G. Michael Harper, MD, AGSF. “She has a laser-like focus on improving the knowledge and skills of the entire healthcare workforce so everyone is prepared to care for all of us as we age. We are truly fortunate that she chose a career in geriatrics.  Her warmth, passion, and approach to teaching embody the spirit of the late Dennis W. Jahnigen, MD, for whom this award is named.” 

Throughout her career in geriatrics, Dr. Denson has been a pioneer in using innovative teaching strategies such as team-based learning, case-based learning, standardized patients, and gaming. At the Medical College of Wisconsin, she has led Geriatrics Education Teams (GETs) in Trauma Surgery, Cardiology, Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, and Hematology-Oncology. These teams collaboratively identified specialty-specific educational gaps, then created, delivered and disseminated curricular materials. In 2007, Dr. Denson assumed leadership of the Med-Ger fellowship program – an innovative four-year combined residency and fellowship program that offers internal medicine residents an opportunity to complete geriatrics fellowship requirements during their residency, creating time in their fellowship year to undertake projects or develop additional skills. This training model is now being disseminated nationally, with leadership through the Medical College of Wisconsin, AGS, and its Association of Geriatric Academic Program Directors (ADGAP). Thus far, 8 institutions are participating, creating combined programs approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), and the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM).   

At AGS, Dr. Denson is a member of the AGS/ADGAP Education Committee and the Co-Chair of the AGS Resident Activities Sub-committee.  She also serves as an Associate Editor for Aquifer Geriatrics, the AGS national online curriculum, and contributes significant time and expertise to trainee programming at the AGS Annual Meeting

Past Recipients of the Dennis W. Jahnigen Memorial Award

2022      Mitchell T. Heflin, MD, MHS
2021      Helen Fernandez, MD, MPH
2020      John Murphy, MD
2019      Nicole Brandt, PharmD, MBA, BCGP, BCPP, FASCP
2018      Jane Potter, MD, AGSF
2017      Maura Brennan, MD, AGSF, FACP, FAAHPM, HMDC
2016      Annette (Annie) Medina-Walpole, MD, AGSF
2015      Barbara Resnick, PhD, RN, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, AGSF
2014      Elizabeth K. Tanner, PhD, RN
2013      Gail Sullivan, MD, MPH
2012      Leo M Cooney, Jr., MD
2011      Sharon A. Levine, MD
2010      G. Paul Eleazer, MD
2009      Samuel C. Durso, MD, MBA
2008      Rosanne M. Leipzig, MD, PhD
2007      Steven R. Counsell, MD
2006      Kenneth Brummel-Smith, MD
2005      Harvey Jay Cohen, MD
2004      Terry T. Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN
2003      William Hall, MD, Rochester, NY
2002      Gregg A. Warshaw, MD, Cincinnati, OH
2001      Evelyn C. Granieri, MD, Pittsburgh, PA
2000      David B. Reuben, MD, Los Angeles, CA

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