Jacobs School surgery resident wins ACS/Pfizer award for volunteerism

Aaron Epstein (second from right) pictured in Iraq.

Aaron Epstein, MD, (second from right) was in Iraq in 2019 with Global Surgical and Medical Support Group, the medical humanitarian organization he founded, to conduct a medical training course for 220 nurses and medics. 

Epstein’s nonprofit group builds health care capacity, including for COVID-19, domestically and around the world

Release Date: October 5, 2020

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Steven Schwaitzberg, MD, standing in OR in scrubs with arms folded.
“Dr. Epstein has shown the true consistency that began in medical school and has continued during his residency that exemplifies a dedication to the human cause. We are thrilled that the American College of Surgeons has recognized him for this well-deserved honor. ”
Steven Schwaitzberg, MD, Professor and chair, Department of Surgery
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Aaron Epstein, MD, a third-year general surgery resident in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 American College of Surgeons/Pfizer Resident Volunteerism Award.

Operation Giving Back, the volunteerism initiative of the ACS, recognizes and celebrates ACS Fellows and members whose altruism, vision, leadership and dedication provide models to emulate and whose contributions have made a lasting difference.

On Oct. 6, Operation Giving Back will host a virtual reception to celebrate the 2020 awardees.

Epstein was chosen for his work as founder and president of the not-for-profit medical humanitarian organization Global Surgical and Medical Support Group. He founded the GSMSG in 2015, shortly after beginning medical school at Georgetown University School of Medicine, in Washington, D.C., in 2014. His goal was to build health care capacity in troubled geopolitical hotspots.

Epstein, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, also holds a BA from Rice University in Houston and an MA from Georgetown.

“I want to thank the American College of Surgeons for this great honor, along with the 1,500-plus medical/surgical professionals and veterans that make up the GSMSG team,” Epstein said. “We could not have had the impact that we have had and will continue to have around the world without you, our donors, and our corporate partners who truly make all of this possible. Like a Yale Divinity professor once said, ‘No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.’”

Before entering medical school, Epstein worked in national security and defense, and has significant experience working with governments in the Middle East. His experiences gave him perspective on the medical difficulties facing conflict-displaced refugees. He decided to pursue a medical career to have a positive impact on these people.

This year, the organization is also operating stateside, erecting mobile clinics to aid in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The group has previously deployed within the continental U.S. in response to hurricanes in Florida, but expanded domestic operations earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic began surging in the New York City region.

"Dr. Epstein has shown the true consistency that began in medical school and has continued during his residency that exemplifies a dedication to the human cause. We are thrilled that the American College of Surgeons has recognized him for this well-deserved honor," said Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Surgery in the Jacobs School. 

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to improve the quality of care for surgical patients by setting high standards for surgical education and practice. With more than 84,000 members, it is the largest surgical association in the world. The Chicago-based organization is dedicated to improving the care of the surgical patient and to safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment. Philosophical and financial support for the group’s awards is provided by Pfizer, Inc.

Media Contact Information

Barbara Branning
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4613
bbrannin@buffalo.edu