The ASTS Pioneer award is the most distinguished award bestowed upon an individual by the ASTS for a significant contribution to the field of transplantation. (Previous Award Recipients)
Olga M. Jonasson, MD, FACS, FRCS, was a charter member of the ASTS and the first female transplant surgeon, as well as the first woman to chair an academic surgery department, in the United States.
She graduated from Northwestern University and went on to medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where she received her MD in 1958. After training at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Massachusetts General Hospital, she began teaching surgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1963 and established the division of transplantation in 1968. While there, she also set up a statewide histocompatibility-testing laboratory for donor-recipient matching.
In 1977, she became the first woman to head the surgical section of a major medical facility with her appointment to Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Cook County Hospital (1987–1997). She was a professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago from 1975 to 1987 and then moved to The Ohio State University to chair the Department of Surgery from 1987 to 1993. She also served as the Medical Director of the Education and Surgical Services Department of the American College of Surgeons, established in 1993.
Dr. Jonasson passed away in 2006 at the age of 72.