TBBJ’s 2011 Health Care Heroes, Leigh Dittman celebrates with Tom and Lauren Pepin

The 2011 Tampa Bay Business Journal Health Care Heroes Awards have been bestowed.

Winners were named in eight categories, during the newspaper’s annual celebration of the Tampa Bay health care community Oct.13 to a packed house at the Mainsail Suites Hotel & Conference Center Tampa.

The program, now in its eighth year, honors practitioners, professionals and volunteers in eight categories and representing a wide range of disciplines, institutions and locales across the seven-county Tampa Bay area.

For the first time since the program began in 2004, readers chose the Philanthropist of the Year through an online survey. Middle school student Leigh Marie Dittman, 11, was the winner.

Other categories and winners included:

• Community outreach: Dr. Jennifer Bencie, administrator, Manatee County Health Department

• Health care educator: Dr. John Sinnott, associate dean of USF Medicine, International and director of the Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine-University of South Florida College of Medicine

• Innovation and research: Lions Eye Institute    for Transplant & Research, Jason Woody, president and chief executive officer

• Lifetime achievement: Dr. Charles Cox, professor of surgery at the University of South Florida    and breast cancer surgeon at Breast Care Center at Florida Hospital Tampa (formally University Community Hospital)

• Medical professional (non-physician): Norma Liburd, nurse specialist, All Children’s Pediatric Rheumatology

• Physician: Dr. James Norman, senior surgeon, Norman Parathyroid Center atTampa General Hospital

`• Volunteer: Dr. Vahak Sarkis, Shriners Children’s Hospital of Tampa

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