NEW YORK – On March 16, the Hellenic Medical Society of New York held the Dr. Mary Kalopothakes Symposium at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City to honor Distinguished Female Physician of the Year Dr. Maria Theodoulou, Medical Oncology, at New York Oncology Hematology (NYOH) in Albany, NY. The award is named in honor of the first Greek-American female physician Dr. Mary Kalopothakes.
Dr. Theodoulou is recognized internationally for her breast cancer research. Prior to joining NYOH, she was an attending physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and a Professor of Medicine at the Joan and Sanford Weill Medical College of Cornell University, both in New York City.
Her awards and honors include the Hally Yaccino Steiner Award- Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Greater New York City, Outstanding Physician Award- Sass Foundation for Medical Research, Clinical Excellence & Community Advocacy in Breast Cancer- Brook Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX, and the AXIOS Award from American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association’s Cancer Foundation.
The introduction was made by Dr. Stella Lymberis, M.D., Chair, 1st Vice President of the Hellenic Medical Society of New York, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at New York University. The President of the Hellenic Medical Society, Dr. George Liakeas, M.D. offered greetings and thanked Dr. Lymberis for her efforts in organizing the event.
Konstantine “Gus” Costalas Regional Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Executive Director at Lenox Hill Hospital noted that he has attended 15 or so HMSNY events at Lenox Hill and when he heard that Dr. Theodoulou would be the honoree and speaker, he made sure to attend. Costalas observed that Dr. Theodoulou “is an amazing woman” who has saved many lives and continues saving lives and of people he knows personally. He said, “I am proud to know you and blessed to know you… Congratulations.”
Dr. Theodoulou’s presentation was entitled Hormone Sensitive Breast Cancer: Centuries of Standing, Walking, Running, Leaping and Moving Forward. Before she began her lecture, she expressed the hope of everyone for a cure to the terrible disease, saying, “I think we have to take a leap of faith right now and really, truly believe in the bottom of our hearts that one day I will be out of work because there won’t be a need for someone like me.”
Dr. Theodoulou noted that 35 years ago, she was a recipient of a grant from the Hellenic Medical Society that helped her afford an education and gave thanks to the nominating committee for the award, “it’s more than you could ever imagine.”
The Hellenic Medical Society of New York, founded in 1936 is a professional organization of physicians. The Society is devoted to education and international outreach projects, granting scholarships, fellowships and awards, and also fostering strong ties to the community through conferences and symposia like the one held to honor the Distinguished Female Physician of the Year.
Dr. Mary Kalopothakes was born in Athens in 1859. She studied at the Harvard Annex (now Radcliffe College) and then began her medical studies in Paris in 1886. Returning to Athens in 1894, she passed her exams and began her practice in pediatrics and gynecology.
With the Union of Greek Women, Dr. Kalopothakes served as a physician during the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, worked with the Hospital of the Red Cross in Volos as a surgeon, and was recognized by Queen Olga and Florence Nightingale for her work preparing nurses for the front.
Working tirelessly for the public health in Greece, she published books on health and hygiene. Dr. Mary Kalopothakes passed away in 1941, but her memory, philanthropy, and contributions to medicine live on with the award named in her honor.