NEW YORK – Dr. Roy Vagelos, Chairman of the Board of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, was honored by the Hellenic Medical Society of New York (HMSNY) with the Lifetime Achievement Award at their annual Dr. George N. Papanicolaou Award Symposium on May 10 at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan.
Dr. Frank A. Chervenak, who currently serves as the Given Foundation Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as Obstetrician and Gynecologist-in-Chief and the Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, was also honored at the event with the Hellenic Medical Society Award. Many distinguished guests attended the event, including Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras and Regeneron’s President and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. George D. Yancopoulos.
The Symposium, in honor of the late Dr. Papanicolaou’s work and contributions, awards distinguished scientists as well as students who participated in the essay competition “Dr. George Papanicolaou: His work and life and how I feel as a Greek American,” was organized by the Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of North America, in collaboration with the HMSNY, Weill Cornell Medical College, the Pan-Evoikos Society of America, the Institute of Dodecanese Studies and the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus.”
The event began with a photo by the bust of Dr. Papanicolaou and a tour for the students, teachers, and guests of the library and the lab where Dr. Papanicolaou invented the Pap test, which remains one of the most valid and more reliable tests for the early diagnosis of cervical cancer. In seventy years since it was introduced, the test has saved the lives of millions of women across the globe.
A reception was held at the Weill Greenberg Center and then all attendees entered the Uris Auditorium where the presentations and the award ceremony were held.
In his welcoming remarks, the HMSNY President Dr. George Liakeas, noted the vision and goals of the society as well as its contribution to young medical students and doctors. He concluded his remarks by saying that he has no words to express his pride in the students who attend the event, for future scientists and researchers who have so much to offer in the field of science.
Then, the MC of the event and President of the Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of North America, Dr. Spyros Mezitis, presented the life and work of Dr. Papanicolaou, whom he described as “father of cytopathology.” He also mentioned the importance of the Papanicolaou symposium and the role and contribution of the Medical Society. Finally, he thanked all those who contributed to the establishment of the Symposium.
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. P. Roy Vagelos for his many contributions to the field of medicine and to society. In his career, Dr. Vagelos has contributed to the creation of many important drugs, including those for cholesterol, and noted that his scientific achievements are mainly the result of hard work and teamwork.
His acceptance speech was peppered with anecdotes from his personal life and enchanted the audience who gave him an enthusiastic round of applause. In a comment to The National Herald Dr. Vagelos described Dr. Papanicolaou as “Giant,” leaving behind an enormous legacy.
Dr. Chervenak referred to Dr. Papanicolaou’s scientific work and the way the great researcher changed the history of medicine. He presented the research and writing of the great scientist emphasizing his pioneering character. Finally, he referred to the enormous impact of Papanicolaou’s work and his contribution to the health sector.
The essay contest winners were then presented with their awards by President of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” Demosthenes Triantafillou. He congratulated all the students for their academic success and thanked the prize sponsors and the members of the competition committee.
Dr. Triantafillou noted the importance of Dr. Papanicolaou’s work and expressed the wish that his work be more widely known, as scientists as this are healthy standards for the younger generation. He made a moving reference to his late wife Barbara and her wish to financially support Hellenic American Education in America.
The winners of the competition who received the $250 prize were:
Evangelos Zanakis- Thomas Jefferson in Fair Lawn, Alexandros Theofanopoulos – Francis Lewis High School, Martha Christina Karaiakofoglou – Ridgefield Memorial High School, Evgenia Katechis- Demetrios High School, Zacharias Kotronis – Hastings High School, Athanasia Mezitis – Hunter High School, Ioannis Stamatis Melissourgos – St. Demetrios High School, Maria Baltzis – Wayne Middle School, George Panaousis – Francis Lewis High School, Maritina Sardis – Fort Lee High School, and George Fostinis – Francis Lewis H.S.
Sponsors of the awards were: Dr. Vasiliki Saitas, Dinos Rallis, Kostas and Kiki Prentzas, Frederica Sagiani, Dr. John Nathenas (DIAS Prize), the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus,” Dr. Nicholas Triantafillou, and the newly established Hellenic Academy of Philosophy-Science-Education in memory of Barbara Triantafillou (four awards).
Dr. Demosthenes Triantafillou told TNH that this event is a result of the decision to study and promote the history of the Hellenic American Community and its contribution to Hellenism so that the new generation of Greek-Americans can feel pride in their heritage.