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Feinstein Institutes’ Advancing Women in Science and Medicine Smashes Funding Record

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Feinstein Institutes’ Advancing Women in Science and Medicine Smashes Funding Record

For the third straight record-setting year, the Feinstein Institutes’ AWSM Awards Luncheon raised more than $750K in funding to help women researchers.

MANHASSET, N.Y., May 05, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Together in person for the first time since the pandemic began, the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research’s 12th annual Advancing Women in Science and Medicine (AWSM – pronounced “awesome”) Awards Luncheon celebrated its mission by raising a record-breaking $755,000 to fund medical research conducted by women scientists. Since AWSM’s 2010 inception, more than $3 million has been raised to support women investigators.

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Comedian and author Ali Wentworth (left) sits with Dr. Felicia Hill-Briggs (middle) and Dr. Renée Pekmezaris (right). (Credit: Feinstein Institutes)

This year’s event was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City on April 28, where women leaders at Feinstein and across Northwell Health handed out 66 awards. The annual fundraiser reinforces the Feinstein Institutes and Northwell’s commitment to invest in the future of science by supporting young people early in their careers. The awards are fully funded by philanthropists and ranged from $2,000 to $50,000. They will support research programs across the health system, including those centered on community health, prevention, molecular medicine, oncology, bioelectronic medicine and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“Beyond the financial resources that AWSM provides, it has created a community of support, collaboration and mentorship,” said Lior Brimberg, PhD, assistant professor at the Feinstein Institutes and co-president of AWSM. “We are beyond grateful to all of the donors who allow us to pursue cutting-edge research.”

Two of Northwell’s leading benefactors, Donald and Barbara Zucker, were recognized at the event. In 2017, their extraordinary generosity funded the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell to support future physicians and researchers. As chair emeritus of the Feinstein Institutes’ board of directors, special acknowledgement was made to Barbara Hrbek Zucker for her visionary philanthropy to advance the next generation of scientists.

The Barbara Hrbek Zucker Emerging Scientist Award was given to Ciara Bagnall-Moreau, PhD, to study male dominance in autism. Three other Emerging Scientist Awards of $50,000 each were also presented to help support research ranging from brain development and autism to women-focused mentorship programs and the study of cognitive neurobiology in healthy and psychiatric populations.

“Through our donors’ kind support, the research being conducted by women here today will shape tomorrow’s medicine,” said Shih-Shih Chen, PhD, assistant professor at the Feinstein Institutes and co-president of AWSM. “Many of these women are standing at a critical point in establishing their research careers; this funding will help them take a giant step forward.”

Twelve Early Career Development Awards, grants of $25,000 each, were handed out, including the JP Morgan Early Career Development Award given to Elizabeth Vrany, PhD, to study the intersection of psychological distress and chronic diseases in racial and ethnic minority populations.

Other categories included awards for professional research collaboration, educational advancement and researchers in training, in addition to academic scholarships and summer internships at the Feinstein Institutes for high school and college students.

The luncheon featured remarks from leaders across the health system, including Jill Kalman, MD, Northwell’s chief medical officer, and a panel discussion hosted by actor, comedian and author Ali Wentworth with Renée Pekmezaris, PhD, professor in the Institute of Health System Science at the Feinstein Institutes and Felicia Hill-Briggs, PhD, vice president of prevention at Northwell Health and the Simons Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research.

In 2010, Betty Diamond, MD, director and professor at the Institute of Molecular Medicine and the Maureen and Ralph Nappi Professor of Autoimmune Diseases, established AWSM to advance the career development and career opportunities of women scientists at the Feinstein Institutes. The program is comprised of women faculty members who lead biomedical research programs in basic, translational and clinical studies in a wide variety of diseases. Its core initiatives are recognition, career development, advocacy and education and networking and mentoring.

“The outstanding success of AWSM to celebrate and support women scientists is good news for science and medicine worldwide,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes and the Karches Family Distinguished Chair in Medical Research. “By funding women investigators doing remarkable research, AWSM is advancing global health.”

Donors to AWSM are supporting Northwell’s Outpacing the Impossible campaign, a $1 billion comprehensive fundraising effort to fuel innovation to advance health care and support Northwell’s promise to the people it serves. The campaign, which was publicly launched in 2018, supports capital projects, improves hospitals and clinical programs, advances research and funds endowments for teaching and research initiatives.

For more information about AWSM, click here or email Sam Horowitz at [email protected].

About the Feinstein Institutes

The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research is the home of the research institutes of Northwell Health, the largest health care provider and private employer in New York State. Encompassing 50 research labs, 3,000 clinical research studies and 5,000 researchers and staff, the Feinstein Institutes raises the standard of medical innovation through its five institutes of behavioral science, bioelectronic medicine, cancer, health system science, and molecular medicine. We make breakthroughs in genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and are the global scientific leader in bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine. For more information about how we produce knowledge to cure disease, visit http://feinstein.northwell.edu and follow us on LinkedIn

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Matthew Libassi
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