The National Podiatric Medical Association (NPMA) recently awarded Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Podiatric Medicine Founding Dean Lawrence Harkless, DPM, with its Trailblazer Award during the association’s Annual Scientific Conference in Costa Mesa, Calif., Friday June 16, 2011.

NPMA executive director Debbie Burton said board members wanted to acknowledge Dr. Harkless’ accomplishments as a podiatric physician, especially for his wisdom in the field of wound care and diabetes, and his more than 35 years of mentoring young doctors while a member and past president of the organization.

"He took a lot of time with the student doctors as they came into the organization, guided them, and was always a wealth of information," she said. "His human need, especially in the African-American community and the community of podiatry, to provide the latest technology and the proper training to our doctors has always been first and foremost for him. He has been a tremendous force with a lot of the members."

NPMA exists to foster the philosophy of disadvantaged/minority recruitment, retention, achievement and professional development by enhancing minority visibility in colleges of podiatric medicine and the profession, according to its website. It was founded in 1973.

Burton said this is the first of many Trailblazer Awards to be given annually.

The award reads: "Thanking you for 36 years of excellence, dedication, commitment, service and leadership in the field of podiatric medicine."

Dr. Harkless’ wife, Gerry, and the Harkless family also were recognized and appreciated during the dinner reception.

"Sometimes the family makes sacrifices too, so this was amazing and very nice," she said.

The plaque honoring the dedication of the family was sent home with Gerry, who said she plans to hang it on a wall.

Harkless has been a member of NPMA since 1974. He was president of the organization from January 1989 to December 1991.

"I am humbled and honored to receive the Trailblazer Award from the NPMA," said Harkless. "I feel privileged to be recognized for pursuing my great love and passion for podiatric medicine. If by trailblazing, I have opened the path up for others to learn, grow, and follow in my footsteps, then this is truly the greatest reward of all."