Feinstein Institute Recognizes Women in Science

Enthusiastic walkers join together to raise funds for health care programs at last year’s Jones Beach Northwell Health Walk.

Scientists, educators, business and
community leaders from the tri-state region
attended the Feinstein Institute’s
AWSM luncheon to celebrate and support
excellence and achievements of
women in science.


MANHASSET, NY — More than $225,000 in awards were handed out to top female scientists from Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research during the sixth annual Advancing Women in Science and Medicine (AWSM – pronounced awesome) luncheon to celebrate and support excellence and achievements of women in science.

“AWSM is an incredible name for this organization,” said Jennifer Ashton, MD, event M.C. and Chief Women’s Health Correspondent for ABC News and Good Morning America. “Research leads to new diagnostics and cures for patients we’re trying to treat. It was awesome to celebrate the impact women in science have on medicine and on the lives of patients.”

AWSM was created to highlight opportunities and collaboration among female scientists at the Feinstein Institute. AWSM comprises female faculty members who lead programs in basic, translational and clinical research. The four core initiatives of AWSM are in the areas of career development, recognition, advocacy and education, networking and mentoring.

“Through the work that was started only seven years ago, we have changed how women help each other and work together at the Feinstein Institute and in science,” said Nadeen Chahine, PhD, president of AWSM. “Our mantra, ‘women helping women,’ has eliminated barriers of progress and raised the spirits of women scientists at the Institute, but more importantly, it has elevated the level of science and discovery that we are achieving.”

Donors contributed more than $225,000 for awards that were distributed during the lunch to female scientists of all professional or training levels. Each award, ranging from $1,500 to $25,000, recognized scientific excellence, innovation, mentorship, education and/or training. Some of the scientists honored at this event including:

Sun Jung Kim, PhD – Winner of the 2017 Barbara Hrbek Zucker Scientific Achievement Award Recognized for her work: Genetic alterations of immune system cells in lupus.

Jeannine Villella, DO – Winner of the 2017 Katz Institute for Women’s Health Partners Council Collaborative Women in Science Award Recognized for her work: Clinical trials in gynecological oncology.

Lior Brimberg, PhD – Winner of the 2017 Sybil Sternlieb Innovation Award In Memory of Peter Sternlieb, MD Recognized for her work: Maternal autoantibodies in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Cristina D’Abramo, PhD – Winner of the 2017 Innovation Award In Memory of Anita Ross & Marian Marsh Recognized for her work: Identification of biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease.

Naomi Maria, PhD – Winner of the 2017 Lisa Martin Osler Society Post-Doctoral Award Recognized for her work: Promoting diversity efforts at the Feinstein Institute and her work in kidney inflammation in Lupus.

Caroline Smolensky – Winner of the 2017 St. Catherine’s Philoptochos Girl Scout Award Selected for a summer internship in the field of biomedical engineering. Mentor: Chunyan Li, PhD.

Lillie Renck – Winner of the 2017 Susan Novick Girl Scout Award Selected for a summer internship in the field of autoimmunity. Mentor: Anne Davidson, MBBS.

The keynote was delivered by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder of India’s leading biotechnology enterprise, Biocon. She discussed her struggles as a female Indian business owner in the science and medical fields – first as a fermentation specialist and now as one of the leading manufacturers of biopharmaceuticals. Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw also touched on the importance of affordable innovation, developing ways to manufacture medicines in a way that makes the cost affordable and drugs accessible to all. “A blockbuster drug,” she said, “is not a drug that makes a billion dollars but is a drug that is affordable for a billion people.”

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About the Feinstein Institute
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York. Home to 50 research laboratories and to clinical research throughout dozens of hospitals and outpatient facilities, the 3,500 researchers and staff of the Feinstein are making breakthroughs in molecular medicine, genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine. For more information about how we empower imagination and pioneer discovery, visit FeinsteinInstitute.org

Heather E. Ball