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John K. Zawacki, MD, the 2015 recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Clinical Excellence, is Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He was born into a family of physicians and raised in a home on the grounds of the Taunton State Hospital, which also served as the evening office for his father’s private practice of psychiatry. He was nicknamed “Doc” throughout his boyhood and undergraduate education, which included College of the Holy Cross. Following Tufts Medical School and a medical residency, GI fellowship and Chief Medical Residency at Tufts New England Medical Center, Dr. Zawacki became an original member of the Department of Medicine at UMass Medical Center, serving as the Director of the Primary Care Clinic.
Over the ensuing 38 years, he helped create the UMass Division of Gastroenterology, won numerous teaching awards, was selected to multiple “Best Doctor” lists, honored for being a humanitarian by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and the Arnold Gold Society and, in November 2012, was selected as Compassionate Care Giver of the Year by the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Health Care.
Dr. Zawacki likes to describe himself as a general practitioner disguised as a subspecialist. Highlights of his almost four decades at UMass include the opportunity to teach his son Jeff, UMMS 1992, and being interviewed by Bill Moyers for his book, Healing and the Mind.
A benevolent individual who is a devoted and passionate clinician; a remarkable role model with a reputation for clinical and educational service to patients and learners alike, the medical profession, and the UMass Medical School institution as a whole, Dr. Zawacki has worn his white coat with dignity, while recognizing the privilege in doing so.