Distinguished Alumni Award


Michael Nelson 71MD

2018 Service Award

Michael Nelson (71MD) is a distinguished professor of radiology, specializing in breast cancer imaging, at the University of Minnesota. He also is a committed humanitarian who advances global health in East Africa. In addition to his work as a co-founder of Minnesota's Jane Brattain Breast Center, Nelson helped found the East Africa Medical Assistant Foundation, which supports diagnostic radiology services in northern Tanzania for approximately 15 million patients.

Advocating for cancer services where there were none available, Nelson has worked tirelessly to bring medical equipment and expertise to a region where there are more deaths from cancer than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. His unique ability to connect with people from different countries and backgrounds helped forge agreements and partnerships with physicians and administrators to advance innovations in technology, training, health systems design, and a national cancer registry. What is most striking about his humanitarian efforts is the complexity and scale of the work and results. The comprehensive cancer center that Nelson and his colleagues through Foundation for Cancer Care are developing to serve northern Tanzania includes a chemotherapy program and radiation unit, for which Nelson has been instrumental in the planning, as well as the funding.

"Mike is compassionate and caring, and his involvement has affected more than 15 million people in northern Tanzania," says John Reiling at the Foundation for Cancer Care in Tanzania.

Hear from Michael

About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.


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