NYAM to Honor Nancy S. Wexler, Diana J. Mason, Mary T. Bassett, Philip A. Pizzo and George E. Thibault on November 7
Otis Brawley to Deliver Annual Discourse

New York (September 26, 2019) – The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) announces the recipients of its prestigious annual awards for distinguished contributions by individuals in health policy, public health, clinical practice and biomedical research. The awards will be presented at the organization’s 172nd Anniversary Discourse & Awards on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. at NYAM (1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd St). The event is free and open to the public with registration.

“This year’s honorees have made significant contributions to the health of the public through progress in genetics, clinical care, health policy, and the reduction of health disparities,” said NYAM President Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS. “The New York Academy of Medicine is proud to honor these leaders for their innovative work and outstanding accomplishments.”

NYAM’s 2019 awards will be presented to the following outstanding leaders in their fields:

Nancy S. Wexler, PhD, Higgins Professor of Neuropsychology in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and President of the Hereditary Disease Foundation, will receive the Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Science. This award recognizes Dr. Wexler’s important scientific work in discovering the location of the gene that causes Huntington’s Disease and her ongoing work to find treatments for the disease. Her lifetime of dedication to the field has had a powerful impact on the science and ethics of neuro-genetic conditions.

Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, Senior Policy Service Professor for the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington School of Nursing, will receive the Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Health Policy. This award recognizes Dr. Mason’s leadership in health policy to promote change in the health system and her work to train and engage nurses and other health professionals to shape health and social policies to advance the health of individuals, families and communities, particularly in urban settings, and to eliminate health disparities.

Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH, Director of the Harvard François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and the FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, will receive the Stephen Smith Award for Distinguished Contributions in Public Health for her work as the NYC Health Commissioner. In this role, she profoundly influenced public health in New York City, especially by addressing structural biases in our systems in order to advance population health. With racial justice as a priority, she helped close the persistent gaps in health between white New Yorkers and communities of color. Her legacy included multiple initiatives on social determinants of health, the opioid crisis, mental health and health equity.

Philip A. Pizzo, MD, David and Susan Heckerman Professor and Founding Director of the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute at Stanford University, will receive the John Stearns Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Clinical Practice for his dedication to the diagnosis, management, prevention and treatment of childhood cancers and the infectious complications that occur in children whose immune systems are compromised by cancer and AIDS.

George E. Thibault, MD, Immediate Past President of the Josiah Macy Jr Foundation and Immediate Past Board Chair of The New York Academy of Medicine, will receive the Academy Plaque for Exceptional Service to the Academy for his visionary leadership as a member (2011-2019) and Chair (2014-2018) of the NYAM Board of Trustees. His strategic thinking and altruistic contributions positioned NYAM to thrive in the future.

As part of this important annual event, NYAM will also welcome Otis W. Brawley, MD, MACP, FASCO, FACE, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Oncology and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, to deliver the 172nd Anniversary Discourse. Dr. Brawley, one the country’s foremost experts on racial and ethnic disparities in cancer diagnosis and treatment, will speak on “Cancer Control in the 21st Century.” Dr. Brawley will provide a status update on the anticancer effort and address what populations have and have not benefited, as well as the new scientific questions and issues that must be addressed moving forward.

About The New York Academy of Medicine
The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) tackles the barriers that prevent every individual from living a healthy life. NYAM generates the knowledge needed to change the systems that prevent people from accessing what they need to be healthy such as safe and affordable housing, healthy food, healthcare and more. Through its high-profile programming for the general public, focused symposia for health professionals, and its base of dedicated Fellows and Members, NYAM engages the minds and hearts of those who also value advancing health equity to maximize health for all. For more information visit

About the Anniversary Discourse & Awards
Every year NYAM hosts its Anniversary Discourse & Awards to pay special tribute to individuals with distinguished accomplishments in health policy, public health, medicine and scientific research. The first anniversary program on November 10, 1847, was marked by an oration delivered to an audience of 2,500 people at the Broadway Tabernacle by Dr. John W. Francis. This tradition of an annual discourse on an important issue of the day has continued for 172 years, with notable discourse speakers including Kofi Annan, Bill Bradley, C. Everett Koop, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, John V. Lindsay, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nelson A. Rockefeller and Donna Shalala. NYAM’s awards have honored luminaries across all fields of medicine, science and health. To learn more about the awards and view past recipients, visit