Friday, May 15, 2015

Women & Science

Girl meets dogs. 4:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Friday, May 15, 2015. Beautiful Spring day with temperatures in the 70s.

I went to the annual Women & Science Spring Lecture and Luncheon at Rockefeller University which is only a fifteen minute walk from my apartment. It was a good day to walk. It was not a good day to be in a car on York Avenue which was jammed with traffic because of all the activity from the hospital buildings south of 72nd Street.

It’s an impressively massive complex. Until you get to Rockefeller University which still has some campus behind the gates on 66th Street. It’s jammed with buildings too, but also at this time of year with flowering bushes.
A view of the garden (where staffers can lunch outside) at Rockefeller University, 1:30 p.m.
Rockefeller University was started by John D. Rockefeller Sr. in 1901 as the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, the nation’s first biomedical institute. Ever since it has served the community (and the world) with the greatness you might ideally expect from a hospital.

Nine years later in 1910, Rockefeller Institute opened the first hospital in the United States devoted exclusively to applying scientific methods to study the nature, cause, and treatment of human disease. It was a model that forty years later the National Institute of Health used for their research center. Since then 80  medical schools, using federal funds, have set up clinical research centers using it as their model. It continues to expand its objectives now granting a PhD as well as a joint PhD-MD with Weill Medical College of Cornell and Memorial Sloan Kettering.
The stage is set for the lecture.
Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek, a professor in the Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases at the Rockefeller University, with Laura Landro of the Wall Street Journal conducting the interview.
I recount this information to give you an idea of the stellar position this institution holds in the consciousness of the community and its supporters. In 1997, Women & Science  was established by volunteers to highlight the role of basic and clinical research in addressing the scientific challenges related to women’s health, and to showcase the contributions of women scientists, and to create a program of support for women scientists.

Yesterday’s lecture and luncheon is one of those showcases. I don’t know the names of the volunteers, but Sydney Shuman, who is a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, has been inviting me to attend for several years, so she surely is one of them. They get a big turnout of several hundred; mainly women but a number of men also. Among those men yesterday was Henry Kissinger whose wife Nancy is a trustee emeritus.
Dr. Kreek explaining the levels of tolerance that lead to addiction.
I’m in over my head with a lot of this although I have a lot of respect for those who are committed. It is a crucial matter for all of us. Yesterday’s lecture was about “Understanding Addictions: Genes, Molecular Neurobiology Behavior, and New Treatment Insights.”

The “Featured Scientist” was Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek who is a professor in the Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases at the Rockefeller University. She was interviewed by Laura Landro, Assistant Managing Editor and Columnist at the Wall Street Journal. Ms. Landro is a very good interviewer in that she drew out the doctor natural ability to inform, and let her rip, as they say.

Dr. Kreek is a charming woman of authority who dispenses it fairly simply so that the audience could get an idea of what the story is. You can see from the photos I took of her speaking, she has a natural ability to translate scientific observations to a non-professional audience.  A lot of it is/was still beyond my comprehension but I got the gist.
Addiction, the professor explained, is a "disease" and should be addressed as such and conceivably can be "cured" as such.
“Addictive personality,” she told us is not the correct way of addressing the issue because it is all in the endorphins – the natural pain and stress fighters. It all happens in the brain. Pain and stress is something we all know about as human creatures. Opiates, like alcohol, cocaine and morphine, or its derivative heroin, for example, inhibit the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

There were probably many people in the audience (the auditorium is a geodesic dome) who understood more than I did of Dr. Kreek’s talk. The subject of addiction affects all areas of American life – not just because of the illegal drugs but also because of the enormous volume of prescribed painkillers that many Americans take for various circumstances.
The luncheon tent before seating, looking west.
The tent looking east. The man on the far left with the glasses talking to the blonde woman is Sean Driscoll, President of Glorious Foods, who catered the delicious meal.
Dr. Kreek’s topic was fascinating although not so easy to comprehend for such non-scientific minds as mine,  in terms of social impact. There was no discussion of the popular prescription and over-the-counter medications that are very popular in this country. What we could glean from Dr. Kreek’s talk is that it is a vast and varied subject, and important for everyone to understand, as it is above all, personal. The scientists such as herself are on the voyage of learning for us.

After the lecture, there was a brief session of questions from the audience. Afterwards we all adjourned to a  tented area nearby for the lunch. Glorious Food prepared and served it.
On the walkway to the main gate.
At the corner of 68th Street and York Avenue, looking to the buildings in the hospital complex on the west side of the avenue with a six-story crane poised to begin participating in a new tower to be built behind the scaffolding. 2:30 p.m.
Catching Up. More than a thousand supporters came together at the the Waldorf on Monday April 27th for the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) 12th Annual Awards Dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf. The evening raised $3.95 million to support SEO Scholars – an 8 year program that gets low-income public high school students in New York City and San Francisco to and through college – with a 95% graduation rate.

Henry Kravis, SEO board chairman, was joined by honorees, Michael Bloomberg, David M. Rubenstein, and Gilbert Garcia. The evening was emceed by Janice Huff, the weekday chief meteorologist for NBC4 New York. Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America was dinner chair.
Honoree David M. Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of The Carlyle Group; Dinner Chair Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America; Honoree Gilbert A. Garcia, Managing Partner of Garcia Hamilton & Associates, SEO Board Treasurer, and SEO Career alumnus ('83); William A. Goodloe, President and CEO of SEO; Henry R. Kravis, SEO Board Chairman and Co-Chairman & Co-Chief Executive Officer of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.; Honoree Michael R. Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City; and SEO Founder Michael Osheowitz.
SEO board chairman Henry R. Kravis with honoree David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, and dinner chair Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America.
Six SEO Scholars meet Dennis Walcott, former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, before sharing their personal stories at the dinner.
Marie-Josée Kravis with William Goodloe, President and CEO of SEO.
William Goodloe and David M. Rubenstein.
More catching up. On Wednesday, May 6th, The Mount Sinai Hospital opened its new 20,700-square-foot Lauder Family Cardiovascular Ambulatory Center. The Center was created thanks to the generous support from Ronald S. Lauder and family to honor Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart and Physician-in-Chief of The Mount Sinai Hospital, and dedicated to Dr. Fuster in recognition of his leadership.

The Center, located within The Mount Sinai Hospital's Guggenheim Pavilion (GP 1 Center) lobby at 1190 Fifth Avenue, now offers comprehensive and integrated cardiovascular care in one convenient location to nearly 300 heart and vascular outpatients daily.
Dennis S. Charney, MD, the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart; Leonard Lauder; Ronald S. Lauder; Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System.
The Center's leadership team includes Dr. Fuster; Joseph M. Sweeny, MD, as Medical Director; and Haydee Garcia, NP, as Nursing Director. Their team of more than 40 cardiologists and vascular physicians offers specialized patient care in cardiovascular disease prevention, general cardiology, cardiac imaging, cardiac rehabilitation, heart failure and transplantation, vascular medicine and vascular surgery. These missions are advanced with the help of 18 fellows and more than 60 nursing, clinical, and administrative support staff.  In addition, the Center includes an anticoagulation clinic for patients on blood thinner medications, along with a dedicated nutritionist, social worker, and four patient navigators.
Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart; Ronald S. Lauder and Jo Carole Lauder; Dennis S. Charney, MD, the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System; Judy Lauder and Leonard Lauder.
Dennis S. Charney, MD, the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart; Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg.
Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart; Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg.
Andrew and Denise Saul; Jo Carole Lauder; and Leonard Lauder.
David Reich, MD, President of The Mount Sinai Hospital; Ronald S. Lauder and Jo Carole Lauder; and Mrs. Maria Fuster.
Jim Crystal; Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart; Jean Crystal; and Placido Domingo.
I received this letter yesterday from my friends at the ASPCA. It speaks for itself. A small gift can help save Ziggy and other injured and ill animals like him. Please consider giving.

Dear David,

Poor Ziggy. This sweet, aging poodle with cloudy eyes came to Bideawee absolutely desperate for the love and affection he has obviously never received. Talk about a streak of bad luck! Not only was he abandoned on the streets of New York, but he was starving. What was even more shocking was the huge mass bulging from his butt that our doctors diagnosed as a perineal hernia – the largest one they've ever seen.

Thankfully, Bideawee rescued Ziggy from the horrors of being a medically-needy homeless pup that most municipal shelters would probably euthanize. And this little guy with a funny personality and loving nature has been given a second chance at life thanks to the generous spirit of people like you!

When he was brought into the caring hands of Bideawee, our veterinarians cleaned him up, gave him a nourishing meal and began to assess the mass on his rear-end. While it was initially scary, we breathed a sigh of relief when his diagnostic work-up showed no evidence of cancer. While the mass is benign, his intestines are nevertheless inside it. Little Ziggy needs to gain a few pounds and get a little healthier before he will be ready for his surgery. Once it's "behind him" the hernia should not cause him any further problems.

Luckily for Ziggy, we have you to help us provide the expert veterinary care that he needs to live out a full life. Our veterinarians never tire and will be there for him as long as he is with us - until someone sees him for the loving dog he truly is - like Bideawee did - and makes Ziggy a permanent part of their family and gives him the loving, forever home he deserves. No more street life for this boy.

But that's why I'm sending you this email today. We need your support right now to help Ziggy get the lifesaving surgery he needs to remove this mass. A gift of $60 or more can help save Ziggy and other injured and ill animals like him. So many of the pets we receive need veterinary care when they come to us. We can't turn them away, so we count on your help.

Please help us care for Ziggy for as long as it takes us to find him his forever home.