The Peter Sheehan Community Empowerment Award is given to an individual who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to eliminating health disparities in a community at-risk of diabetes and its complications.


Award Criteria


to raising awareness about the prevention of diabetes and its related chronic conditions


of individuals, resources or organizations to confront an important diabetes health issue in PSDCF communities


of a new program, project, or service to improve quality and access to health care in PSDCF communities


to research, education, clinical services and/or outreach efforts in PSDCF communities


2018 Peter Sheehan Community Empowerment
Award Recipient

Dr. Raul Vazquez


Dr. Raul Vazquez has been selected to receive this award because of his dedication to improving the health of the Latino and African-American communities of Buffalo, and his spearheading of innovative approaches to provide the necessary tools and resources.

Dr. Vazquez was the first in his family to graduate from high school. After being selected by 10 out of 11 medical schools, he attended Fordham University, where he received his undergraduate degree in 1985. Dr. Vazquez obtained his Medical Degree in 1989 from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he received a Regents Scholarship. He completed his residency program in 1992 at Deaconess and Buffalo General Hospitals in Buffalo, New York.

Dr. Vazquez opened Urban Family Practice in 1996. As president of the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization (GBUAHN), he leads a team of experts with 40 years of combined medical experience providing care to the poor through a single physician-patient relationship. He serves as the Governor’s appointed representative to the WNY Regional Economic Development Council, and the NYS Medical Advisory Committee. He serves as President of the Buffalo Chapter of the National Medical Association. He also serves as a Board member of Health-e-link.

Dr. Vazquez received the 2012 National Federation for Just Communities of WNY Community Leader Award in Healthcare. He has a designation of NCQA Physician Practice Connections Patient-Centered Medical Home Certification of Recognition Level 3. He also received the NYS Association of Black & Puerto Rican Legislators Health Award.


2017 Peter Sheehan Community Empowerment
Award Recipient

Dr. Ira Jacobson


Ira Jacobson, MD earned his BS summa cum laude from Yale University and his MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. After completing an internship and residency at the University of California San Francisco, he trained as a fellow in gastroenterology and Hepatology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In 1984, he joined the faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital. During his 30 years at Weill Cornell, Dr. Jacobson served as Chief of the Division of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology from 1998-2015 and was Vincent Astor Distinguished Professor of Medicine as well as Medical Director of the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C. From 2015 to mid-2017 he was Chair of Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center, and Vice Chair of Medicine and co-Director of the Liver Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He joined the faculty of NYU School of Medicine as Director of Hepatology on August 1, 2017.

Dr. Jacobson is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, American College of Gastroenterology, and American Gastroenterological Association, and a member of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the European Association for the Study of the Liver. In addition to maintaining an active practice with a focus on patients with liver disease, he has been an investigator in many trials on antiviral therapy for hepatitis B and C, including the pivotal trials on interferon-based therapy, since the 1980s. He has been lead principal investigator and author of a number of trials.

He has served on the Gastroenterology and Transplant Hepatology Boards of the American Board of Internal Medicine, as Associate Editor of the Journal of Hepatology, and as a reviewer for several other journals. He has authored or co-authored over 250 peer-reviewed papers, chapters and reviews, including papers in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Journal of Hepatology, Journal of Viral
Hepatitis, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and others. He has edited two books on ERCP and a volume on hepatitis B for Clinics in Liver Disease. He has co-chaired the annual Viral Hepatitis Congress in Frankfurt, Germany since 2012. Dr. Jacobson currently serves as Co-Chief Medical Editor of HCV Next, a publication from Slack Incorporated that also appears on