We celebrated our 23rd annual gala in a magnificent new venue, the exclusive Metropolitan Club in New York City. We honored Thomas F. Secunda, Co-Founder, Vice Chairman and Member of the Management Committee of Bloomberg, LP, whose extensive philanthropy through the Secunda Family Foundation covers a broad spectrum of interests. The Secunda Family Foundation focuses on improving community life in two ways: supporting the development and improvement of public lands and national parks and enhancing the reach and depth of museums and cultural institutions. Other gifts are awarded to support medical research (from which among others, we have benefited) and to Jewish causes, particularly programs designed to fight antisemitism. Most recently, effective relief to and restoration of facilities in the US Virgin Islands accelerated their recovery from the devastation wreaked by Hurricanes and Irma and Maria.
Because of the generosity of the Secunda Family Foundation grant, we awarded a year of research funding to Doctor Gabrielle Page-Wilson, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University, who is studying how the endocrine glands regulate metabolism and energy balance, which is different in men and women. She is focusing specifically on developing mechanisms to address the side effects of steroid use, which include diabetes, cataracts, osteoporosis and weight gain. Our close collaborators at the Johns Hopkins medical school benefitted from a second award from the Secunda Family Foundation gift; it will support the work of Doctor Kathryn Fitzgerald, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Doctor Fitzgerald is studying the differences in how men and women experience multiple sclerosis.
We are proud of the achievements of our own Foundation, which so many scholars and philanthropists have worked so hard to make possible. In particular, we would like to thank our chairwoman, Marlene Kurz, who for the second year in a row has made this gala a reality. Her gift of the spectacular flowers that adorned the Club’s rotunda, her choice of entertainment and her imaginative, energetic leadership in recruiting record-breaking support for the gala made every detail of this celebration perfect.
Thanks to all of our supporters; you are an invaluable, brilliant group to whom we look for the advice, funding and guidance that makes this effort possible.
Marianne J. Legato, MD, Ph. D. (hon. c.), FACP is an internationally renowned academic, physician, author, lecturer, and pioneer in the field of gender-specific medicine. She is a Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Dr. Legato is also the Director of the Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine, which she founded in 2006 as a continuation of her work with The Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. She received an honorary PhD from the University of Panama in 2015 for her work on the differences between men and women.
At its core, gender-specific medicine is the science of how normal human biology differs between men and women and how the diagnosis and treatment of disease differs as a function of gender. Dr. Legato’s discoveries and those of her colleagues have led to a personalization of medicine that assists doctors worldwide in understanding the difference in normal function of men and women and in their sex-specific experiences of the same diseases.
She began her work in gender-specific medicine by authoring the first book on women and heart disease, The Female Heart: The Truth About Women and Coronary Artery Disease, which won the Blakeslee Award of the American Heart Association in 1992. Because of this research, the cardiovascular community began to include women in clinical trials affirming the fact that the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment of the same disease can be significantly different between the sexes. Convinced that the sex-specific differences in coronary artery disease were not unique, Dr. Legato began a wide-ranging survey of all medical specialties and in 2004, published the first textbook on gender-specific medicine, The Principles of Gender-Specific Medicine. The second edition appeared in 2010 and the third edition, dedicated to explaining how gender impacts biomedical investigation in the genomic era, won the PROSE Award in Clinical Medicine from the Association of American Publishers in 2018. A fourth edition is forthcoming.
She also founded the first scientific journals publishing new studies in the field, The Journal of Gender-Specific Medicine, and a newer version, Gender Medicine, both listed in the Index Medicus of the National Library of Medicine. She has founded a third peer-reviewed, open access journal, Gender and the Genome, which focuses on the impact of biological sex on technology and its effects on human life.
Dr. Legato is the author of multiple works, including: What Women Need to Know (Simon & Schuster, 1997), Eve’s Rib (Harmony Books, 2002), Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget (Rodale, 2005), Why Men Die First (Palgrave, 2008), The International Society for Gender Medicine: History and Highlights (Academic Press, 2017), and most recently, The Plasticity of Sex (Academic Press, 2020). Her books have been translated into 28 languages to date.
As an internationally respected authority on gender medicine, Dr. Legato has chaired symposia and made keynote addresses to world congresses in gender-specific medicine in Berlin, Israel, Italy, Japan, Panama, South Korea, Stockholm, and Vienna. In collaboration with the Menarini Foundation, she is co-chairing a symposium on epigenetics, Sex, Gender and Epigenetics: From Molecule to Bedside, to be held in Spring 2021 in Italy. She maintains one of the only gender-specific private practice in New York City, and she has earned recognition as one of the “Top Doctors in New York.”