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Dr. File selected to receive 2023 Summa Health Distinguished Physician Award

Infectious diseases expert will be presented with health system's highest physician honor 

Thomas M. File Jr., M.D., a respected leader, educator and compassionate caregiver in the field of infectious diseases, has been selected to receive the 2023 Summa Health Distinguished Physician Award, the health system’s highest physician honor. 

This prestigious award is presented to a physician who exemplifies the mission and values of Summa Health, demonstrates outstanding leadership and dedication and acts as a role model professionally and personally to their community. The honoree also is recognized for their clinical excellence and leadership in research and training and demonstrates a personal commitment to advancing philanthropy at Summa Health.

During his 44-year esteemed career at Summa Health, Dr. File has impacted countless lives in the Greater Akron region through his lifelong dedication to the study and treatment of infectious diseases and his devotion to the patients in his care.

Among his many leadership roles, Dr. File serves as the chair of the Summa Health Infectious Disease Division and a founder and co-director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program. 

After graduating from medical school at the University of Michigan, Dr. File received his master’s degree in medical microbiology from The Ohio State University. He completed his internship and residency at Riverside Methodist Hospital and an Infectious Diseases Fellowship from The Ohio State University’s College of Medicine. In 1977, Dr. File became one of several health professionals involved in evaluating the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Columbus.

In 1979, Dr. File and his wife, Mary, a recently retired Summa Health ophthalmologist, moved to Akron — where Mary was born and raised. He worked with the late James S. Tan, M.D., who had been the first head of infectious diseases at Summa Health. Infectious disease soon became Dr. File’s niche as he would practice with his mentor Dr. Tan for 16 years. Together, with their colleagues, they transformed the Infectious Disease Division into a nationally recognized program engaging in high-level clinical research and providing compassionate, patient-centered care. 

As one of the leading infectious disease specialists in the country, Dr. File has worked alongside his colleagues to influence the national recognition Summa Health received throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He was among those on the list of experts who kept the nation informed, educated and safe. 

Dr. File is also professor of internal medicine, master teacher and chair of the Infectious Disease Division Section at the Northeast Ohio Medical University. He is a past president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America where he received the prestigious Watanakunakorn Clinician Award. He also received the John P. Utz Leadership award from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. He was a founding member and past president of the Northeastern Ohio Task Force on AIDS and serves as editor-in-chief of the Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice.

Dr. File is passionate about giving back to Summa Health through his own generous support along with Mary, with whom he has two children and five grandchildren.

He joins a distinguished group of past honorees including William “Bill” Bauman, M.D. (2022); J. Patrick Flanagan, M.D. (2021); Jay Williamson, M.D. (2019); Ernest R. Estep, M.D. (2018); Gary B. Williams, M.D. (2017); Robert Liebelt, Ph.D., M.D. (2016); and the late James Tan, M.D. (2015).

Dr. File will be formally honored at the annual Summa Society Celebration in May.   


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