UNM School of Medicine

Faculty Affairs and Career Development
UNM School of Medicine
MSC08 4730
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131
Voice (505) 272-8268
Fax (505) 272-6581

Physical location:
Fitz Hall, Room 180
915 Camino de Salud
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Faculty Memorial

The Gold-Headed Cane Award


A yearly "Gold-Headed Cane" Award will be given to a faculty member at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. The award will be given at the fall promotion and tenure celebration ceremony.


Gold-headed canes in medicine date from an era when they were the universal symbol of the profession. The passage of one particular cane, from John Radcliffe to Richard Mead to Anthony Askew to William Pitcairn to David Pitcairn and, finally, to Matthew Baillie in the 18th and early 19th centuries, came to define the Gold‐Headed Cane as a symbol of the highest degree of excellence in the medical profession. Some of these individuals were clinicians, some made contributions to medical science, and others advanced the profession through public service. But each was considered one of the preeminent physicians of their era.

Since the retirement of that particular Gold‐Headed Cane — now in the museum of the Royal College of Physicians in London — many medical schools and professional societies have adopted the awarding of such a cane as a symbol of attainment of those qualities of head, heart and hands that exemplify the best of the medical profession.


Nomination: Faculty may be nominated by peers or may nominate themselves. Please submit all nominations to the Office of Academic Affairs, MSC08 4730. The nomination should reference the selection criteria and not exceed 500 words, plus any attachments (e.g. curriculum vitas). Criteria for selection (any may apply):

  • Excellence in basic science or clinical practice
  • Excellence in academics
  • Excellence in ethics/professionalism
  • Excellence in community service or advocacy


Renee Ornelas

2013: Joyce Phillips, MD
Professor of Anesthesiology

Renee Ornelas

2012: Renee Ornelas, MD
Professor of Pediatrics

Kathryn Foucar

2011: Kathryn Foucar, MD
Professor of Pathology

Paul Turner

2010: Paul Turner, MD
Visiting Professor of Neurosurgery