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History of the Gold Headed Cane

Canes were commonly carried by English physicians in the 1600’s. They contained a cavity for aromatic substances such as rosemary, camphor or Marseilles vinegar to counteract offensive odors and prevent contagion.

The tradition of the Gold Headed Cane originated in 1689 with John Radcliffe, who had a particular interest in asthma as the personal physician to King William III, an asthmatic. Dr. Radcliffe began the tradition of passing the cane to a successor whom he considered to be the greatest English physician of his time. Recipients of the Gold Headed Cane were Richard Mead (1714-1754), Anthony Askey (1754-1774), William Pitcairn (1774-1791) and Matthew Baillie (1791-1823). The widow of the last physician gave the illustrious cane to the Royal College of Physicians in London, where it remains.

The Gold Headed Cane Award is a concept used today by many medical schools and specialty societies to recognize a physician who symbolizes the pursuit of the highest standards of scientific excellence and integrity. The award serves as an inspiration to younger doctors and encourages them in family, social, civic, religious and professional life to cultivate character that earns the respect and goodwill of colleagues and the profession at large.

Past Gold Headed Cane Award Recipients

Harold S. Nelson, MD
2001 Recipient
  Joseph A. Bellanti, MD
2002 Recipient
  Edward J. O'Connell, MD
2003 Recipient
  Elliot F. Ellis, MD
2004 Recipient
John C. Selner, MD
2005 Recipient

  Phillip L. Lieberman, MD
2006 Recipient

  Betty B. Wray, MD
2007 Recipient

  Donald W. Aaronson, MD,

2008 Recipient
Emil J. Bardana Jr., MD
2009 Recipient
  Raymond Slavin, MD
2010 Recipient
  Ira Finegold, MD
2011 Recipient
  Rufus E. Lee, Jr., MD
2012 Recipient

2013 Candidate Biographies

Dr. Michael Blaiss Michael S. Blaiss, MD, FACAAI
Memphis, Tennessee
ACAAI President, 2003-2004

During Dr. Blaiss’ term as president, the College began hosting interim board meetings in Washington, DC, to allow for legislative advocacy meetings with the U.S. Congress for continued support of programs that benefited patients with allergies and asthma. Another major initiative during this year was the ACORN Project, which funded up to five allergy fellows per year to increase the number of allergists trained in the U.S.

An ACAAI Fellow for 29 years, he co-chairs the Joint Task Force on Quality Measures and is sub-chair of the Asia-Oceania Portfolio of the International Committee. He is active on several committees including Annual Program, Asthma & Respiratory Disease, Ethics, Literature Review, Managed Care & Health Plans, Public Relations and Symposia.

Dr. Blaiss previously chaired the ACAAI Allergy Training Directors Committee and the Ad-Hoc Committee of Allergists in HMO’s. He served as editor of the CD-ROM for the College meetings from 1993-2002; as assistant editor of AllergyWatch from 1997-2000; and served on the Editorial Board of Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology from 1994-1998 and 2001-2005.

He was honored with ACAAI's 1996 Distinguished Fellow Award, the 1998 Jaros Lectureship and the 2008 Daniel Goodman Lectureship. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana State Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Society in 2005.

Dr. Blaiss is currently on the Board of Directors of the World Allergy Organization. He has served on the Board of Directors for the American Board of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and is a past president of the Tennessee and Louisiana Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Societies.

Dr. Blaiss and familyHe is a clinical professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis and has a private practice in Memphis at Allergy and Asthma Care. He was previously a Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and served as Pediatric Allergy/Immunology Training Program Director. He was named to the list “Best Doctors in America” every year since 1999. In 2009, he was named by USA Today as one of the most influential physicians in asthma care.

Dr. Blaiss has published over 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Journal of Pediatrics, Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Allergy, and JAMA, as well as several allergy textbooks. He has co-edited Atlas of Allergic Diseases. In addition to Annals, he served on the editorial boards for World Allergy Organization Journal, Journal of Asthma, and Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, Hypersensitivity, and American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy.

He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia where he was Phi Beta Kappa. He received his medical degree from the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences where he was Alpha Omega Alpha. After completing his residency at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, he completed a fellowship in allergy/immunology at Ochsner Medical Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dr. Blaiss and his wife, Terry, have two children and four grandchildren.

Dr. Don Mitchell Don Q. Mitchell, MD, FACAAI
Jackson, MS
ACAAI President, 1999-2000

A Fellow of ACAAI for 34 years, Dr. Mitchell served as treasurer of the College from 1993-1997 prior to his presidency in 1999-2000. He also was president of the ACAAI Foundation Board from 2001-2003. He chaired ACAAI's Annual Meeting Committee, Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Investment Oversight Committee, Nominating Committee, Publications Committee, and Credentials Committee and was awarded the ACAAI Distinguished Fellow Award in 1996. As a member of the Board of Regents, he was instrumental in initiating the procurement of ACAAI Fellow-in-Training Travel Grants.

Dr. Mitchell was president of the Mississippi State Medical Association, 1993-1994, and was president of the Central Mississippi Medical Society. He served on the Executive Committee of the State of Mississippi Board of Comprehensive Health Insurance Risk Pool Association for eight years.

As delegate to the American Medical Association from 1992-2002, he chaired the Mississippi State Medical Association delegation and the Southeastern States delegation. He served six years on the AMA Foundation Board and three years as an officer.

Dr. Mitchell was a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and a visiting teaching physician at the university hospitals and clinics. His involvement in the University of Mississippi Medical Center continued as he served as co-chair for two 3-year fundraising campaigns. He was presented the Lyceum Brick Award for exceptional service by the University of Mississippi and was active in the solicitation for permanent minority scholarships to the medical school, four of which bear his name each year. He served on the Admissions Committee for Prospective Students of UMC for eight years. He was named the University of Mississippi Alumni Association Guardian Society’s Honoree of the Year in 2007 for his service to the medical school.

A native of Cleveland, Mississippi, he received his medical degree from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1967. Following his internship there, he was a resident in internal medicine and a fellow in allergy-immunology at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He was a specialist in allergy-immunology at the Mississippi Asthma and Allergy Clinic in Jackson, 1975-2010.

A veteran of the United States Air Force, Dr. Mitchell was on active duty from 1968-1975. He remained in the Mississippi Air National Guard, serving as state air surgeon, until his retirement as a Brigadier General in 1990. He was awarded the USAF Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit.

Active in his community, college, and church, he has served on the Greater Jackson Community Foundation for six years. He is presently on the Board of Trustees of Millsaps College, having previously been awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the alumni association. At Christ United Methodist Church, he has been Chair of the Administrative Board and a member of the Staff-Parish Committee. He was president of the Jackson Preparatory School Parent-Teacher Association and an officer on the Board of Trustees. As an active fundraiser, he has served the Metro Habitat for Humanity for many years.

Dr. Mitchell and his wife, Mary Sue, have three children and seven grandchildren.

Dr.Myron J. Zitt Myron J. Zitt, MD, FACAAI
Plainview, New York
ACAAI President, 2004-2005

Dr. Zitt is associate professor of clinical medicine at State University of New York, Stony Brook; director of the Adult Allergy Clinic at Nassau University Medical Center, East Meadow, N.Y.; and is in private practice at Mid Island Allergy Group, PC with offices in Plainview and Babylon, N.Y. He was chief of Allergy-Immunology at Queens-Long Island Medical Group P.C., North Babylon, N.Y., 1973-2008.

He served as ACAAI president, 2004-05, and is well known for his slogan, “Nobody does it better than the allergist.” He is currently vice chair of the International Committee and the Public Relations Committee and is a member of the Past Presidents Committee. He chaired the Marketing Task Force and serves as ACAAI spokesperson. He also chaired the ACAAI/AAAAI Nitric Oxide Joint Work Force, 2011-12.

Previously, he chaired the Abstract Review Committee, Credentials Committee, International Committee, Nominating Committee, Program Committee, Scientific Council and Sports Medicine Committee. He served on the Editorial Board of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 1995-2001, and was ACAAI’s representative on the JCAAI Board of Directors. He also was ACAAI’s representative on the Board of Directors of Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America and was vice president of research, 2001-11.

Dr. Zitt was honored with the with the College’s Distinguished Fellow Award in 2012. He was also awarded the ACAAI Bela Schick Lectureship in 2010, and the 12th Annual Dr. Robert T. Scanlon Memorial Lectureship Award in 2006.

Internationally, he is the U.S. chapter chairman for INTERASMA. He was a member of the World Allergy Organization Board of Directors and chaired the Emerging Societies Committee for two terms, 2008-11.

He was president of the Long Island Allergy and Asthma Society, 1989-91, and remains active, currently serving on its Executive Committee. Dr. Zitt is also an active fellow of the AAAAI where he has previously served on the Public Education Committee, Sports Medicine Committee and Allergy Standardization Committee.

Dr. Zitt received his medical degree from State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center in 1965. He was a resident in internal medicine at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. and a fellow in allergy-immunology at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.

A veteran of the United States Air Force, Dr. Zitt served at MC Keesler AFB Teaching Hospital in Biloxi, Miss., retiring as Major and Assistant Chief, Allergy Immunology, 1969-71.

Dr. Zitt and his wife, Jeanne, have a son, Jonathan.

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