Medical School Alumnus Receives Board of Regents Outstanding Achievement Award

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Naomi McDonald, Director of Communications
February 16, 2017

Pioneering cardiologist. Renowned researcher. Beloved mentor. Those are a just few of the ways to describe Dr. Forrest H. Adams, and now he has another title: distinguished alumni.

“He has had the kind of lasting impact—as a teacher, as a physician, as a researcher—that brings honor to the University of Minnesota through association,” said Dr. Jakub Tolar, Executive Vice Dean of the Medical School.

Dr. Adams’ association with the University of Minnesota (U of MN) began decades ago. In 1937 he enrolled in the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts (CLA) and went on to obtain three degrees from the U of MN, including his M.D. in 1943. In 1948, he returned to the University of Minnesota, this time, as a faculty member of the Medical School which launched his legendary career.

Physicians of Dr. Adams stature have never been common and are now almost extinct. We have the extraordinary good fortune of being able to both have the long view on his contributions and to recognize them while he is still with us.—Dr. Jakub Tolar

Adams helped establish the University of Minnesota's Variety Children’s Heart Hospital, the first hospital in the United States devoted solely to heart disease. He performed the first heart catheterization on a newborn infant, discovered the role of lung surfactant in respiratory distress syndrome, and has achieved lasting impact through his research on congenital heart disease in infants, heart and lung function during fetal life, and the physiological changes that occur with birth.

He has some 200 scientific papers and eleven books to his credit, including his co-authored Heart Disease in Infants and Children and Adolescents. Both are still considered the gold standard in pediatric and cardiology textbooks. In addition to his work at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Adams is also the founding director of UCLA’s Division of Pediatric Cardiology.

“Physicians of Dr. Adams stature have never been common and are now almost extinct,” said Dr. Tolar. “We have the extraordinary good fortune of being able to both have the long view on his contributions and to recognize them while he is still with us.”

The University of Minnesota is recognizing Dr. Adams 80-year history, awarding him the highest alumni honor, the Board of Regents Outstanding Achievement Award. This honor is given to graduates, or former students who have attained unusual distinction in their chosen fields and have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state, national, or international level.

Earlier this month, Executive Vice Dean Jakub Tolar and members of the University of Minnesota Foundation traveled to Dr. Adam’s home in California to present him with the award.

His work has benefitted countless patients, restored hope and joy to thousands of families, and inspired many students and colleagues. Dr. Adams is an important figure in the University’s history of medical breakthroughs and contributions to the field of cardiology. He has honored the University of Minnesota through his remarkable life’s work.—Dr. Jakub Tolar

Dr. Adams is just the 87th person in the history of the University of Minnesota Medical School to receive the Board of Regents Outstanding Achievement Award. 

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Dr. Jakub Tolar presenting award to Forrest Adams
Outstanding Achievement Award

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