NEW YORK – The Hellenic Medical Society of New York (HMSNY) held its Annual Scholarship Gala on Dec. 3, celebrating its 80th Anniversary at the JW Marriot Essex House on Central Park South in Manhattan. Dr. George Liakeas is the president of HMSNY.
The black tie event honored some of the best and brightest in the medical field. The Distinguished Physician award was presented to Dr. Constantine Stratakis, Scientific Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In his acceptance speech, the renowned endocrinologist and genetics expert thanked his wife and children- “his most successful genetics experiment ever” and noted his pride in his Greek heritage and culture as well as his love for the United States. Dr. Stratakis also praised HMSNY for its continued commitment to education and the Greek community, noting that the founders of the organization in 1936 would have wanted it that way.
The Distinguished Hellene award was presented to Konstantine “Gus” Costalas Regional Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Executive Director at Lenox Hill Hospital. Costalas noting that his family taught him the value of education, hard work, and helping others, especially through working in the family restaurant. He said, “Never be afraid of hard work, partner with people and embrace them and what they need to work as a team.” Costalas also thanked his wife Helen and their three children. He observed that there are over 90 Greek doctors at Lennox Hill, and soon there will be over 150 with so many promising physicians and the continuing support of HMSNY through its scholarships.
The Distinguished Colleague award was presented to Dr. Nicholas Romas, Professor of Urology at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons New York Presbyterian, by his son-in-law businessman Harry Wilson who assured everyone he is a first generation Greek-American in spite of his non-Greek-sounding last name. Wilson who married Eva Romas in 1997, praised his father-in-law for his 50-plus year career in urology, calling him “a tireless champion of men’s health.” He observed that Dr. Romas was on the Best Doctors in New York list twice and has “won virtually every award in his field.” The values his parents taught him were the same as those of Dr. Romas, “work hard, help others, and do your best in everything you do.” Out of ten grandchildren, seven were present at the event showing support for their distinguished grandfather who is also a US Air Force veteran. Dr. Romas thanked his son-in-law for his generous words and said he would not speak about medical topics but instead focused on “being Greek in America” and how hard work has led to success in multiple fields for the community. He noted that of any group, the Greeks in the US have the highest percentage in college and graduate school, are one of the most financially successful ethnic groups, and also have “the longest church services.” When he was growing up, Dr. Romas said there were only two types of people, “Greeks and those who want to be Greek.” He concluded his remarks by thanking his wife for her dedication to family and to his career.
The Gala chairs were Dr. Lorraine Chrisomalis Valasiadis, Dr. Helen Gouzoulis Koutsos, and Nicole Contos Liakeas. The Gala Committee included Dr. Panagiota Andreopoulou- HMSNY Executive Board Second Vice-President, Dr. Athena Kaporis Germanakos, Dr. Ioannis Hatzaras, Gus Lambropoulos, Dr. Ariadna Papageorge, Dr. Michael Plakogiannis- HMSNY Exceutive Board Secretary, and Dr. Neofitos Stefanides. The Scholarship Chair is Dr. Sotirios Stergiopoulos and the Journal Chair is Evangelia Tsavaris. Also present at the event were HMSNY Executive Board President Dr. George Liakeas, First Vice-President Dr. Stella Lymberis, Assistant Secretary Dr. Georgia Patikoglou, Treasurer Dr. Demetrios Karides, and Assistant Treasure Dr. James Melis.
Scholarships were awarded to several deserving students. The recipient of the High School Essay Award is Abraham Stathopoulos. Research Grant Awards were presented to Evangelia Lazaris, Anastasios Mirisis, and Sakellarios Zairis. Medical Scholarship Awards were presented to Nicholas Condilis, Sophia L. Dellis, Christoforos Koumas, Vassiliki Papagermanos, Maria Pilakas, Alexis Tchaconas, Andocmachi Trivellas, Myra Trivellas, and Sophia Tsiris.
Father John Vlachos, Dean of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan gave the invocation along with Father Nicholas Anctil of Holy Trinity Church of New Rochelle. Dr. Liakeas thanked those in attendance and noted that the future looks bright with the wonderful and accomplished medical students who received scholarships this year.
Also present at the event were Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Catherine Boura, Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Consul of Greece Manos Koubarakis, Consul General of Cyprus in New York Vasilis Philippou, veteran TV news anchor Ernie Anastos and his wife Kelly, and former HMSNY presidents Dr. Spyros G.E. Mezitis, Dr. George Dangas, and Dr. George J. Tsioulias.
The Hellenic Medical Society (HMS) has its origins in the Greek-American Medical Fraternity, an organization co-founded by the renowned physician George N. Papanicolaou during the First World War. The organization officially registered with the New York State authorities in 1920. Drs. George N. Papanicolaou, Constantinos Carousos, and Constantinos Logothetis served consecutively as presidents of this fraternity. In 1936, Dr. Coryllos with other members of the Hellenic University Club formed The Hellenic Medical Society (HMS), a professional organization of physicians. The founders included the pediatrician Christos Bozes, the internist Alexander Alexio, the dermatologist Nicholas Pattakos, the gynecologist Avraam Soukouris, and the surgeon Constantine Psakis. The specific objectives of the HMS included creating a network of Greek-American physicians, cultivating fraternal relationships among its members, and promoting public health initiatives in conjunction with other medical societies.