Friday, June 21, 2013

Claflin award winners honored


BALANCING WORK AND LIFE: From top left, Chu, Zanni and Shenoy; bottom row, Gerstner, Claflin and Kenet.


The words are scrawled on a note Tatiana Sitnikova, PhD, hangs in her MGH Department of Psychiatry office: “My mom is fun! She likes to work. She always works. But the best thing about my mom is she loves me.” Her daughter’s sentiments are especially poignant for the researcher and 2011 Claflin Distinguished Scholar Award recipient who says the prize helped her maintain a balance in her work and home life, something both she and her children are grateful for.

Similar reactions were shared by several other previous awardees – now totaling 88 since the program’s inception in 1997 – during this year’s annual luncheon celebration on June 12. The awards are named after Jane Claflin, an honorary trustee and long-time champion of women in academic medicine at the MGH. They provide two years of funding to sustain research productivity during an investigator’s child-rearing years.

“It is an honor to have both past and present Claflin award winners here,” said Nancy Rigotti, MD, director of the Office for Women’s Careers in the Center for Faculty Development. “And we are happy to have Jane in attendance. She is a longtime supporter and a major force behind MGH’s efforts to support the advancement of
our women faculty.”

The 2013 recipients are: Catherine Chu, MD, MA, of Pediatric Neurology; Elizabeth Gerstner, MD, MMSc, of the Division of Neuro-Oncology; Tal Kenet, PhD, of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging; Erica Shenoy, MD, PhD, of the Division of Infectious Diseases; Basak Uygun, PhD, of the Center for Engineering Medicine; and Markella Zanni, MD, of the Neuroendocrine Unit.

“The Claflin award will help to make this project much more successful,” said Gerstner, about her research on glioblastomas, an aggressive malignant primary brain tumor. “Another reason why the Claflin award is so important is that it will allow me to spend more time with my two-and-a-half-year-old twins, and I can show them that women can advance in medicine. And the next time I’m talking to you, I may be able to tell you,
‘I cured cancer.’”

During the ceremony, Rigotti also announced that in May three previous Claflin award winners were promoted to full Harvard Medical School professorships. Sylvie Breton, PhD, of the Renal Unit, Rochelle Walensky, MD,
of the Department of Medicine, and Sabine Wilhelm, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry, were recognized during the event.

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