Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Bia, M.D. ’72, professor emeritus of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine, has been awarded the Weill Cornell Medical College Alumni Association Award of Distinction.
The award, which was established in 1949, is presented each year to a Weill Cornell Medical College alumnus who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in research, education or patient care, and has brought acclaim to the institution. Dr. Bia was honored on May 17 at the alumni award of distinction dinner and will receive the award May 18 at Weill Cornell Medicine’s 2023 commencement ceremony.
“I am honored to receive this award, which is particularly special coming from my alma mater where I received such phenomenal training,” Dr. Bia said.
When Dr. Bia applied to Weill Cornell Medical College in the late 1960s, not only was she interested in pursuing medicine, but she also had a personal connection to the institution: her partner, Dr. Frank Bia, M.D. ’71, was already a first-year medical student there. When she was accepted, they got married.
“It was tough for me back then because there were very few women in our class,” she said. “Medicine was a man’s world at that time. People often thought I was a nurse. But I persevered.”
Despite the challenges she faced as a female medical student, Dr. Bia flourished during her third year – the clinical year. “I just bloomed. I felt in my heart and soul that I had made a correct decision,” she said. “And I totally fell in love with internal medicine, which is the field that I ended up going into.”
Originally, Dr. Bia thought she would go into primary care. But her residency at the University of Pennsylvania opened her eyes to nephrology. “The best teachers on the medical floors where I was training were the nephrologists,” Dr. Bia said. “I got so interested in the chemistry of how the body worked.”
Dr. Bia then took a position at Yale School of Medicine, where her husband was also on faculty. She became the first director of transplant nephrology at Yale New Haven Hospital in 1984 and remained in the position until 2001. Subsequently, she served as the creator and director of the Clinical Skills Program at Yale School of Medicine until 2014. During her tenure, she witnessed the program grow from a small course to a multisite, multiyear program with over 170 participating clinicians.
“I was very grateful for the opportunity to take what I had learned—how to be the best doctor and how to talk to patients—and translate that into a skills program that Yale students could take advantage of,” Dr. Bia said.
A pioneer and tireless advocate for women in health care, she was the first woman invited to join the Nephrology Board of the American Board of Internal Medicine, where she served from 1996 to 2002. Dr. Bia has authored over 100 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, and received numerous honors, including the establishment of the Dr. Peggy Bia Award for Outstanding Clinical Teaching at Yale School of Medicine and the Pioneer in Transplant and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Kidney Foundation.