American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

The Rodman E. Sheen and Thomas G. Sheen Award (Established 1968)

The Dr. Rodman E. Sheen and Thomas G. Sheen (Sheen) Award has been presented annually since 1968 as the beneficiaries of a trust fund adminis­tered originally by the Fleet Bank of Atlantic City, NJ. At present, the Bank of America, N.A., in Providence, Rhode Island, serves as the Trustee under the Will of Thomas G. Sheen with the responsibility to administer a perpetual trust, with the income to be used to make an annual award “to further the study of medicine and the science of medicine and to compensate an outstanding Doctor of Medical Science in the United States each year.”

In 1938, Thomas G. Sheen, a well-known tailor, clothier, and real estate professional in Atlantic City created an extraordinarily important and philanthropic legacy to honor doctors who have made outstanding contributions to mankind through the fields of medicine and medical research. He did this through his Will, which stipulated that a portion of his estate, upon the demise of his immediate relatives, be directed into a trust fund, and that the income of this trust fund be awarded annually to an individual selected by the Sheen Family Trustee. Mr. Sheen’s legacy was inspired by a deep affection for his brother, Dr. Rodman E. Sheen, a radiologist and pioneer in the medical use of Roentgen rays. Dr. Sheen was injured in the course of his research when a Roentgen tube exploded in his lab. The severity of his injuries forced him to abandon his practice. He continued working by operating a candy store in Ventnor, just south of Atlantic City, until declining health, aggravated by the accident, caused him to retire. Dr. Sheen died in 1937 at just 47 years of age.

A local New Jersey committee known as the Sheen Advisory Committee, originally chaired by S. Stuart Mally, MD, FACS (a recipient of the College’s Distinguished Service Award in 1992), makes the final selection and the recipient is a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the ACS New Jersey Chapter. This advisory committee consists of a dozen members and is made up of physicians from the southern New Jersey region, where the Sheen family lived and worked. Half of the members are surgeons and the other half represent a spectrum of other medical specialties. 

A stipulation in the trust agreement specifies that a national medical organization is to be consulted for selection of the recipi­ent. Through 1981, the American Medical Association administered­ the Award, but since 1982, the American College of Surgeons’ Honors Committee has been responsible for considering nominees and making recommendations. The Honors Committee submits the names of three nominees, in order of preference. In addition, nominations are received from members of the Sheen Advisory Committee and from the American College of Physicians. Since the earnings of the estate vary from year to year, the amount of the Award is decided annually. Since 1999, the Award has remained at $25,000.

Award Criteria

The Sheen Advisory Committee requests that the following criteria be used in evaluating individuals for consideration. While recognizing that the College does not constitute a “crystal ball” with which to look into the future, they believe that the Honors Committee can provide invaluable guidance in considering the following:

  • Nominees should be on the frontiers of medical science doing work that has great promise;
  • Nominees should be currently involved in teaching and research in medicine;
  • A Nominee’s work should be of the highest quality and ongoing; and
  • Nominees should not be retired or semi-retired, i.e., the Award should be used to encourage the significant scientific work ahead of them.

There are currently eight (8) candidates under active consideration for this Award. In February 2020, the Honors Committee selected three nominees in rank order for the 2020 Award and these names have been forwarded to the Sheen Advisory Committee. New nominees will be considered for 2021 and beyond.

Review the list of past Sheen Award Nominees and Recipients.