Barbara Bass, MD

Class Year




Posted on: February 25, 2022

For her accomplishments as a leader in academic medicine and her efforts to improve the training of surgeons, Dr. Barbara Lee Bass has been selected as the University of Virginia’s 2022 Distinguished Alumna.

Bass, a 1979 graduate of the UVA School of Medicine, is the first woman to serve as vice president for health affairs, dean of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and chief executive officer of The GW Medical Faculty Associates.

UVA’s Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center established the Distinguished Alumna Award in 1991 to honor alumnae whose contributions at the highest level in their fields reflect the spirit of excellence and the ethic of service for which a UVA education stands. The center will honor Bass at an event in the spring.

“Through her outstanding accomplishments as a surgeon, researcher and scholar, and leader, Dr. Bass takes her place in the company of other alumnae of the School of Medicine who have been awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award,” Abby Palko, director of the Women’s Center, wrote in email. Those recipients are Dr. Vivian Pinn, a 1967 alumna who was awarded in 1992; Dr. Hallam Hurt, a 1971 graduate awarded in 2001; and Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, a 1994 alumna who received the award in 2019.

“It is an incredible honor to be the recipient of the University of Virginia Distinguished Alumna Award,” Bass wrote in an email. “The most formative years of my professional life were spent at the UVA School of Medicine – four years of deep, immersive learning and maturation guided by superb faculty physicians, scientists and educators. The core values of service, curiosity, integrity and kindness were instilled in me during those important early years, coupled to the fundamentals of medical science on which to build a lifetime of learning.”

In the late ’70s, there still weren’t many women in surgery, and the UVA chief of surgery at the time was so impressed with Bass that he put her in touch with two of the only women leading in academic surgery, Drs. Olga Jonasson and Kathryn Anderson. They became mentors and role models throughout Bass’s career.

After completing her residency in general surgery at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in 1986, Bass took a research fellowship at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research while serving as a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

She joined the GW faculty as a general surgeon and surgeon-scientist at the Washington, D.C., Veterans Affairs Medical Center.