Physician Assistant Studies Alumni Association
Distinguished Alumnus Award

The highest honor bestowed by the PAS Alumni Association will be presented annually to one alumnus who has made major contributions to the medical profession through commitment of excellence in patient care, research, publications, education, community service and/or leadership roles.

2021 Recipient
Class of 1979

Ambriz, Frank


Mr. Ambriz has been a practicing physician assistant for over 40 years. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Texas—Pan American (UTPA) in 1977. He then went on to complete his Bachelor of Science in Health Care Sciences and Physician Assistant Studies (PAS) from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston in 1979.

Mr. Ambriz continued his education by completing his Master of Science from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Family and Urgent Care. In 2003, he completed the first year of law school at Concord Law School in Los Angeles, California and in 2005, he completed 40 postgraduate doctoral hours in basic medical sciences.

In 1992, he was recruited by UTMB to launch the PA Program at UTPA which started in 1994 with 20 students. That same year, he was appointed by Governor Ann Richards to the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners Physician Assistant Board and was instrumental in developing the rules and procedures for PA practice. During his six-year term on the board, he chaired the Licensing Committee for physician assistants. He continues to serve on the Texas Medical Board as a member of the Ad-Hoc Stakeholder’s Advisory committee.

In 1999 the UTPA/UTMB PA program – now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)—became a stand-alone program in 1999 and Mr. Ambriz was named Chair and Program Director. In this role, he received state recognition as the Texas Association of Physician Assistant Educator of the year in 2005 and 2017 and received the Educator Award for the College of Health Affairs from UTRGV in 2015.

In 2010, Mr. Ambriz transitioned the undergraduate PA program to a graduate degree and obtained approval to offer the Bridge to master’s for practicing PA with an undergraduate degree. Currently, he is developing two doctoral programs for physician assistants that want to advance their clinical skills. He is also developing a graduate degree in Wound Management for physicians from Latin American countries to better train and deliver much-needed wound care to patients in these countries.


The winner will be announced at the PAS commencement ceremony on August 20, 2022.


View a list of PAS graduates who have been recognized as Distinguished Alumni with the School of Health Professions.