Irish America Celebrates Annual Healthcare & Life Sciences 50

Dr. Barbara Murphy, chief of Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System, delivers the 3rd annual Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 keynote address in Manhattan. (All photos by Nuala Purcell)

By Irish America Staff
October 6, 2015

Irish America celebrated its annual Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 Awards Reception, co-hosted with ICON plc, on October 5 in Manhattan. The Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 aims to recognize the best and brightest professionals in the medical industry and highlight the work they are doing to improve the lives of their communities and our healthcare industry.

“There’s a lot of change – connected health, personalized medicine, patients being helped through advances in technology and connectivity,” Ciaran Murray, CEO of ICON, said. “And I think that when we look at quality of the people here in this room, the quality of people working in Ireland and the U.S., I think it would be safe to say that we can be optimistic and say that Irish Americans, and Ireland, and America, will continue to be at the forefront of driving that change and movement.”

Irish America co-founder and editor-in-chief Patricia Harty spoke towards that theme as well, recognizing the achievements of the honorees and invoking their selfless service to the medical profession. She specifically paid tribute to Nobel laureate Dr. William Campbell (August / September cover story), who was born in Donegal and spent his career working for Merck, where he discovered a cure for river blindness.

When he was told of his Nobel Prize, Harty noted, “He said, ‘Well, how can you honor me? It was the team.’ He wanted to make absolutely certain that it was his team, his colleagues, and that he accepted the award on behalf of him.”

Honorees Dr. James Watson, Brian Dougherty, Dr. Owen O'Connor, Dr. John Neylan III, Dr. Michael Mullen, and Keynote Speaker Dr. Barbara Murphy and her husband, Peter Fogarty. (Photo Nuala Purcell)

Honorees Dr. James Watson, Brian Dougherty, Dr. Owen O’Connor, Dr. John Neylan III, Dr. Michael Mullen, and Keynote Speaker Dr. Barbara Murphy and her husband, Peter Fogarty. (Photo Nuala Purcell)

Among the honorees in attendance was also Nobel laureate Dr. James Watson, one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA for which he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. Looking at the crowd, Watson, who is 53 percent Irish and whose ancestors come from Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, joked that he is worried “the world doesn’t know yet how prominent the Irish are yet.”

Dr. Barbara Murphy delivered the keynote remarks during the reception. Born in Ireland, Dr. Murphy is Dr. Barbara Murphy is the Chair of the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine, the Murray M. Rosenberg Professor of Medicine, and the Dean of Clinical Integration and Population Management at the Icahn School of Medicine at the Mount Sinai Health System. In these roles, she is the only female chair of medicine in New York, and one of only three women to be appointed chair of medicine at a top medical school in the country.

Dr. Murphy spoke of motivating factors for her professional trajectory and the benefit of both her cultural upbringing and the fact that she had the fortune to attend medical school in both Ireland and the U.S.

Dr. Barbara Murphy, chief of Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System, delivers the 3rd annual Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 keynote address in Manhattan. (Photo: Nuala Purcell)

Dr. Barbara Murphy, chief of Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System, delivers the 3rd annual Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 keynote address in Manhattan. (Photo: Nuala Purcell)

“It is at times like these that I remember with amusement my old elementary school teacher, who told my mother I was a dunce and would never be anything. What’s more, she said, my mother shouldn’t even try,” she said. “I was four. Fortunately, my parents persevered.”

And yet, she pointed out that, “We Irish are known for our determination, strength of character, persistence – or, less politely put, stubbornness – but all of these characteristics have helped us in times of adversity. They are certainly characteristics that contributed to the resilience of many of your forebears in their journey to this new land. But, we are also known for our humor, not taking ourselves too seriously, and the importance, as the nuns put it, of not having ‘notions about yourself.’

“As a physician, I am incredibly proud of my heritage and how it has shaped my perspective on life. I am very grateful for the outstanding education that I received in Ireland and the values that were instilled in me by my teachers: they taught me the importance of connecting with and having empathy for patients. Scholarship did not matter if you were not kind. If a patient with arthritis winced when we shook their hand, it did not matter what we knew about the disease or the treatment. We had failed, because we hadn’t taken the patient’s overall well being into consideration,” she said.

“When I came to the U.S., my Irish education was profoundly supplemented by a rigorous academic experience, and I am the fortunate product of both systems. Without a doubt, it made me a better doctor.”

Dr. Murphy also spoke towards the importance of the physician-patient relationship. For her, the ability of the Irish to sympathize and create strong interpersonal bonds is one of the greatest opportunities for those practicing medicine. Moreover, she said, it’s one that the honorees can and should impart to others.

“But we Irish, as leaders in the field who come from a tradition of loving the story and the chat and connecting with people, need to ensure that as we drive these advances we remember the importance of the personal interaction between the patient and the physician. We can be listeners, but also be the innovators to develop tools and systems to help manage the data and facilitate that interaction,” she said.

“You cannot underestimate the importance of a patient’s trust in their doctor to help calm their fears and contribute to their overall wellbeing.”

Following Dr. Murphy’s address, Harty and O’Dowd presented her with the House of Waterford Crystal Lismore Essence Vase Keynote Speaker Award.

Founding publisher Niall O'Dowd, Keynote Speaker Dr. Barbara Murphy, co-founder and editor-in-chief Patricia Harty, and ICON chief executive Ciaran Murray. Dr. Murphy holds the House of Waterford Crystal Lismore Essence Vase. (Photo Nuala Purcell)

Founding publisher Niall O’Dowd, Keynote Speaker Dr. Barbara Murphy, co-founder and editor-in-chief Patricia Harty, and ICON chief executive Ciaran Murray. Dr. Murphy holds the House of Waterford Crystal Lismore Essence Vase. (Photo Nuala Purcell)

For more on Dr. Barbara Murphy, read her profile in the August / September 2016 issue of Irish America.

“It’s something very special to do the Healthcare and Life Sciences because what you guys are doing is actually helping save lives in the future,” founding publisher Niall O’Dowd said. “It’s a great moment for us to once again bring you all together.”

In addition to Drs. Murphy and Watson, currently serves as chancellor emeritus at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he established the Human Genome Project, the 2016 honorees recognized at the event included:

Dr. Michael Mullen, the institute director for advanced medicine and a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Mullen has spent his career studying and understanding HIV and AIDS, pneumonia, shingles, syphilis, and tuberculosis while working towards affordable and successful treatments.

Michael McLoughlin, chief engineer of Research and Exploratory Development at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He is the principal investigator for the innovative Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program and oversees efforts to transition technology for clinical and non-clinical applications.

Dr. Geraldine McGinty, assistant chief contracting officer and assistant professor of Clinical Radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College, where she specializes in breast cancer and is a widely-respected expert in healthcare payment policy and the economics of imaging.

Dr. Neil Kelleher, a professor of chemistry and molecular biosciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and the director of the Proteomics Center of Excellence and the Kelleher Research Group. Kelleher, from Chicago, is a third-generation Irish American with roots in Cork.

The 2015 Irish America Healthcare & Life Sciences 50 honorees also include Dr. BJ Casey, Professor of Developmental Psychobiology and Director of Sackler Institute at Cornell Medical College; Dr. Patrick Conway, chief medical officer and deputy administrator for Innovation and Quality for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services; Toby Cosgrobve, president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic; Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health; John Flannery, president and CEO of GE Healthcare; Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association; Amy McDonough, vice president for Corporate Wellness at FitBit; Daniel O’Day, chief operating officer of the Pharmaceuticals Division at Roche; and Margaret O’Kane, president of the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

The honorees are featured in the August / September issue of Irish America.

Also in attendance were representatives of ICON, chief medical officer Brendan Buckley, VP Investor Relations & Corporate Development Simon Holmes, and general counsel, executive vice president and company secretary Diarmid Cunningham; Patrick Tully, New York director and national director of the Young Leaders for the American Ireland Funds; Laura Koumas, corporate key account manager at 1-800-Flowers; and Jack Haire, CEO of Concern Worldwide.

In addition to ICON, the event was sponsored by the Icahn School of Management at Mount Sinai, Mutual of America, the American Ireland Fund, 1-800-Flowers, House of Waterford Crystal, Coca-Cola, Tourism Ireland, CIE Tours International, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

About ICON

ICON is a global provider of outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries and is one of Ireland’s most successful indigenous companies. The company specializes in the strategic development, management and analysis of programs that support clinical development – from compound selection to Phase I-IV clinical studies. ICON currently employs over 11,000 employees in 39 countries worldwide.

About Irish America

After over 30 years in print, Irish America magazine is the leading national glossy publication of Irish interest in North America. Since its inception in October 1985, Irish America has become a powerful vehicle for expression on a range of political, economic, social and cultural themes that are of paramount importance to the Irish in the United States. It has helped re-establish the Irish ethnic identity in the U.S. (34.7 million according to the last U.S. census) and highlights the best political and business leaders, organizations, artists, writers and community figures among the Irish in America. ♦

For more on Dr. Barbara Murphy, click here to read her interview with Sheila Langan in the August / September 2016 issue of Irish America.

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