Rising Star Award

This award recognizes exceptional early-career clinical faculty whose actions and activities consistently exemplify enthusiasm, commitment, professionalism, and leadership. Awardees will demonstrate exceptional clinical care beyond the level expected of an early-career clinician through a consistent pattern of high-quality care, clinical leadership, and innovation.

The 2018 Winners:

Ted Laetsch Rising Star Award 2018

Theodore Laetsch, M.D.

Associate Professor
Pediatrics – Hematology-Oncology

According to his nominators, Dr. Laetsch is a game changer for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He had a vision to bring the Experimental Therapeutics Program (ETP) to the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health, and he worked with colleagues at UTSW to make it a reality. Today, using an experimental technique called CAR T-cell therapy, Dr. Laetsch has helped children with ALL who do not respond to traditional chemotherapy. Using CAR T-cell therapy, 83 percent of patients treated have gone into remission, compared with 25-50 percent remission rates for traditional treatments. As leader of the ETP, he serves as the Principal Investigator (PI) of several phase one and phase two studies of new agents for children with relapsed or refractory cancer and serves as the institutional Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia and Lymphoma (TACL) PI. 

Dr. Laetsch became interested in oncology after visiting a summer camp for children with cancer. He received his M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco, and joined the faculty at UTSW in 2013. He leads the ETP in the Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health. 

In his words: “I am delighted and honored to receive this award. I want to thank my entire research team, without whom this work would not have been possible. I also want to acknowledge the support of my division, the Department of Pediatrics, as well as the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.”

David Nelson Rising Star Award 2018

David Nelson, M.D.

Assistant Professor 
Obstetrics and Gynecology

In 2015, just four years after completing residency at Parkland Health & Hospital System and one year after completion of a fellowship at UT Southwestern, Dr. Nelson became the Medical Director for the Parkland Prenatal Clinic System of Women’s and Infants’ Services. Three years later, he was named the Chief of Obstetrics at Parkland Hospital, which has one of the highest annual delivery rates in the country, at more than 12,000 per year.

Dr. Nelson has launched several initiatives to ensure continued safe and effective care for patients when the maternity service is near capacity. His leadership fosters multidisciplinary collaboration and enables staff to safely and rapidly utilize both outpatient and inpatient care areas for seamless access for women and infant services. He is praised for his clinical acumen, administrative finesse, and personal strength, all of which have earned him the respect of his peers, team members, and administrative management. 

A 2007 graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Dr. Nelson completed his obstetrics and gynecology residency at Parkland in 2011 and a fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at UTSW in 2014. He joined the faculty of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2014 as a Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care. 

In his words: “I am humbled to have received this honor. My ‘star’ has only risen because of the support of my talented colleagues, maintained trajectory from the wisdom of my mentors, and has shone by having been plugged into the power of UT Southwestern. But, above all, it is my wife and two beautiful children who have hung the moon.”

Thomas Dalton Rising Star Award 2018

Thomas Dalton, M.D.

Assistant Professor
Internal Medicine – Geriatric Medicine

Dr. Dalton attended medical school at UT Southwestern, where he also completed residency training in internal medicine. After serving an additional year as Chief Resident in internal medicine, he completed a fellowship in geriatric medicine with a concentration in medical education at Duke University. He returned to UTSW in 2014 to help contribute to the institution’s mission of improving health care for older adults in North Texas.

Since then, Dr. Dalton has had an immediate and ongoing impact as a clinician, leader, and educator. His nominator called him “the prototype physician educator for the 21st century” and “the consummate clinician.” Colleagues say he understands how to solve clinical problems and, more importantly, listens to learners and is able to help them process how to solve problems. 

All who work with him are impressed by his intellect, compassion, clarity, and humility. “These are the same characteristics that have made him an incredibly effective teacher,” his nominator said. “He is just getting started. He is a rising star.”

Dr. Dalton’s Press Ganey scores routinely exceed national averages, and he has been featured on D Magazine’s Best Doctors list the past two years.

In his words: “I am humbled to receive this award. Geriatrics is a team sport, and I am lucky to get to work with a group of amazing health care professionals, all of whom share a vision of delivering compassionate and personalized care. UT Southwestern fosters this collaboration, and I am excited about emerging opportunities to advance the principles of geriatric medicine throughout our Health System and beyond. The future is bright.”