Every year St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital presents the Amos Jacobs Award to an employee who has made a remarkable impact on the institution in the past 12 months.

The award — which is named for St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, who went by the name Amos Jacobs originally — is the highest honor bestowed upon hospital employees. In the past, employees from all areas have been recognized: researchers, clinicians and support staff.

A committee selects the award winner from a group of employees who were nominated for quarterly awards known as the 5100 Club. This year’s group of eight employees made special contributions in their own way, helping the hospital stay on course. This is in addition to the tremendous efforts of our 5,000-plus employees working on campus and remotely during 2020.

Two of those nominees are my Infectious Diseases colleagues, Aditya Gaur, MD, and Hana Hakim, MD. They are the co-recipients of this year’s award—the first time St. Jude has honored two employees in the same year. Both physicians were instrumental in helping to establish the hospital’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their tireless efforts helped St. Jude to prepare, adapt and move forward during the past 12 months. Because of their leadership and perseverance during this time, I nominated Dr. Gaur and Dr. Hakim for this year’s 5100 Club honor.

Dr. Gaur, who serves as Occupational Health medical director and director of clinical research for Infectious Diseases, helped oversee the Occupational Health team’s efforts during the pandemic. The team took on many new responsibilities once St. Jude activated its Incident Command Center and prepared a COVID-19 screening and testing program for employees.

Dr. Hakim, the hospital’s Infection Prevention and Control director, has helped coordinate and prepare responses to potential measles and Ebola outbreaks in the past, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought a new array of challenges and difficulties.

At a time when despair is spreading throughout the world, when uncertainty, anxiety and fear are prevailing in our communities, leaders who provide relief, guidance, knowledge and certainty in a humble and assertive way truly make a difference.

Dr. Gaur and Dr. Hakim have been those leaders. Leaders who helped an institution come together to understand how to get through the unimaginable. Leaders who bring a sense of hope and calm amid anguish. Leaders who put everything aside to think about our safety and well-being. Leaders who every institution would dream of having as part of their team.