Panamanian award named in Rios’ honor

By Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications

Recipients of the inaugural Adan Rios Abrego Merit Medal Award

Recipients gather for the inaugural presentation of the Adan Rios Abrego Merit Medal Award.

In a special ceremony in San José, Costa Rica, Adan Rios, MD, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, witnessed the awarding of the Adan Rios Abrego Merit Medal Award, named in his honor for over 50 years of professional practice.

The ceremony celebrated 120 years of peaceful relations between the Republic of Panama and Costa Rica. For the occasion, the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Panama, represented by ambassador Luis Carlos Cabezas, awarded the inaugural Adan Rios Abrego, Merit Medal Award to 15 healthcare professionals (10 physicians and five healthcare works) for their service of over 25 years in healthcare in Costa Rica.

The medal, designed by Picchiani and Barlacchi, traditional Florentine official designers of medals for the Panamanian government, will be awarded each year to recognize Panamanians who serve in the healthcare sector in countries other than Panama. Recipients will be selected by the Medal Commission of the Panama Ministry of Foreign Relations.

Adan Rios Abrego Merit Medal Award Front Adan Rios Abrego Merit Medal Award Back

The front of the medal shows Rios’ likeness, while the reverse reads:

Reconocimiento al Mèrito, Medalla
Dr. Adán Ríos
Por su incansable labor en pro de la salud
San Josè, Costa Rica, Diciembre, 2023

Translated into English, the medal reads:

Recognition of Merit, Medal
Dr. Adan Rios
Given for your tireless work on behalf of healthcare
San José, Costa Rica, 2023

The ceremony was attended by Dra. Mary Muniver Angermuller, vice president and vice minister of Health of the Republic of Costa Rica, and the minister of Tourism, H.E. Gustavo Segura.

Rios is internationally renowned for his work in HIV-associated malignancies and the treatment of tumors with biological response modifiers. He is a general oncologist with a special interest in lymphoma, leukemia, and immune-compromised related malignancies.

Rios’s work has been recognized with a multitude of awards and distinctions, including the 2001 University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Distinguished Alumnus Award, the 2003 George Washington University Presidential Medal Award, and the 2008 UTHealth Houston Minority Services Award.

In June, Rios received the General Victoriano Lorenzo Medal of Honor in his home country of Panama. Rios was presented the award by President of Panama Laurentino Cortizo Cohen for his role in founding a nursing school in a rural area of the country, where there was no availability of such education, and for his work with an international conference of medicine that brought some of the best scientific minds from the United States to Panama for more than a decade.

Rios remembered Dr. Jonas Salk’s words at the ceremony and said, “The reward of doing is the opportunity to do more.”