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Frissora receives 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award

Frissora award
Dr. Henry Frissora accepts the 2015 Engineering Education Outstanding Alumni Award.
David Audrey Hank Mary
Dr. David Radcliffe, Dr. Audrey Duva-Frissora, Dr. Henry Frissora and Dr. Mary Pilotte at the 2015 Engineering Education Outstanding Alumni Awards ceremony Feb. 25, 2015.
Hank autograph
Dr. Henry Frissora autographs an original Red Bricks cartoon strip, which he donated to the Division of Interdisciplinary Engineering in 1978.
Henry A. “Hank” Frissora, MD, FACS, a 1979 graduate with an Interdisciplinary Engineering degree in biomedical engineering, is the School of Engineering Education’s 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award recipient.

Frissora decided as a junior high student that he would pursue medicine as a career. It was a friend of his uncle – the dean of a medical school at the time – who steered him towards biomedical engineering instead of biology or a traditional pre-med program. When the time came to find a university with an undergraduate program in biomedical engineering in the mid-1970s, Frissora discovered Purdue University was offering the best package.

“Purdue stood out as having a great engineering reputation and a new program in interdisciplinary engineering that would allow me to create a major around my interest in biomedical engineering,” he said.

Outside of course work in many engineering disciplines, including those dedicated to biomedical engineering, his passions included creating a daily cartoon, Red Bricks, published on the editorial page of the Purdue Exponent during his four-year tenure at Purdue. He served as a teaching assistant in Al Chiscon’s renowned “Social Impact of Biology” course. As well, he enjoyed lab research in the newly created biomedical engineering center under Dr. Charles Babbs’ mentorship. These pursuits helped him gain entry to Harvard Medical School. From there he completed his surgical residency at the Harvard Surgical Service at the New England Deaconess Hospital. He completed a research fellowship at the Children’s Hospital in Boston in tumor angiogenesis and traveled to London for a fellowship in breast and vascular surgery at the King’s College Hospital. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) and diplomate of the American Board of Surgery.

Frissora describes himself as one of the last General and Vascular surgeons, currently working at Beverly Hospital, a member of Lahey Health. He has enjoyed the evolution of both fields, as traditional procedures have been totally changed by minimally laparoscopic and endovascular techniques. He teaches residents and serves as a preceptor for the medical device company, Ethicon, which allows him to give training sessions in the operating room and lectures around the country. He has mentored many students from high school through residency pursuing careers in surgery and biomedical engineering.

Tapping further into his biomedical engineering background, Frissora is designing new medical products, including a surgical mesh adaptation for laparoscopic repairs of abdominal hernias. He also has developed and adapted several surgical techniques relying on engineering-based principals. After the eye-opening experience of leading a medical team in running a hospital in post-earthquake Haiti, Frissora plans to shift his career towards further global outreach missions.

Speaking to a class of multidisciplinary engineering students while on campus, Frissora told them it is important to have a work/life balance, to look for challenges and to be happy with what you do – both career and hobbies. He also stressed the need to have a mentor or two.

“You’re going to somebody, looking for advice. Give something back there. You have a lot of fresh ideas. You have a lot of things to inspire your teachers, and that’s how it keeps going. And you’re going to be a mentor one day,” he said.

Frissora lives on the North Shore of Boston with his wife, Audrey, a breast radiologist. Their two daughters are off to school; Alessandra, a doctorate student in psychology, and Giuliana, an undergrad in environmental engineering. He is an avid ocean sailor and racer, backcountry skier and struggling golfer.