Inaugural Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 Reception

By Adam Farley, Deputy Editor
September 26, 2014

Irish America celebrated its inaugural Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 Awards Reception (for more photos of the event, click here) co-presented with ICON plc, last night 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.

“It’s just fascinating,” Patricia Harty, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Irish America said. “There’s so many incredible people in the room.”

Among them was Greystones-born Dr. Garret FitzGerald (whose feature article from the August / September 2014 you can read here), who was welcomed as the inaugural Keynote Speaker at the event. Dr. FitzGerald is the McNeil Professor in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he chairs the Department of Pharmacology and directs the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics. For the past decade he has been working on bridging the divide between basic research and clinical trial at ITMAT, and has spent even longer bridging transatlantic ties between the US and Ireland.

“Tonight I am humbled by the breadth of the contributions made by these awardees,” he began, before taking a chance to speak on how the cultural roots of the Irish have allowed Irish and Irish Americans to succeed in medicine.

“Our roots give us our sense of irony, humor, resignation and doom, our love of music, river dancing and above all the talk, our way with words, our poetry our inclination to sing,” he said.

“But they also give us a sense of compassion, a love for the underdog, a devotion to fairness—these are the instincts and qualities so central to the values of people in this room, intrinsic as they are to careers in medicine and science.”

Harty and founding publisher Niall O’Dowd presented Dr. FitzGerald with the House of Waterford Crystal Kings Cup Keynote Speaker Award.

Introducing Dr. FitzGerald, Patricia Harty articulated his long history of discovery and compared it to the innovation he practices in bringing multiple disciplines and departments together under the banner of the ITMAT, saying, “He’s been a life-long vocal proponent of cross-disciplinary research and of government investment in the sciences.”

“He’s one of the most compelling and passionate researchers out there today, and he takes great pride in engaging with Ireland and the diaspora,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of ICON plc, the Dublin-based clinical research company that is among the top five in the world (whose CMO Brendan Buckley was profiled in the Healthcare issue here), was ICON’s CEO Ciaran Murray.

“Being here tonight is a little bit special for those of us at ICON because the U.S. has been the engine of our growth which has led to us becoming one of the top clinical research organizations in the world,” he said. Indeed, 50 percent of ICON’s global workforce is based in the United States.

“We feel that we were particularly well-placed… to see the outstanding contribution of Irish America to the advancement of and improvement of healthcare quality around the globe.”

“When it comes to healthcare and the life sciences, the Irish are in the forefront,” Niall O’Dowd said.

Among the honorees recognized at the event were Niall Condon, Vice President of BioPharmaceutical Manufacturing at Pfizer; John Connolly, president and CEO of Castle Connolly Medical, which has published America’s Top Doctors for more than two decades; Dr. Bill and Kathy McGee, co-founders of Operation Smile; Dr. Garrett O’Connor, founding president of the Betty Ford Institute for drug and alcohol addiction treatment, whose wife, the actress Fionnula Flanagan was also in attendance; and Nobel laureate Dr. James Watson, who discovered the double helix structure of DNA.

Also in attendance were Dr. Aran Maree, chief medical officer at Johnson and Johnson Medical, and Ciaran Staunton, founder of the Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Education, Awareness, and Prevention.

The event was sponsored in part by Mutual of America, Coca-Cola Company, North Shore–LIJ Health System, Castle Connolly, Tourism Ireland, the UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School, 1800Flowers.com, The American Ireland Fund, CIE Tours International, and House of Waterford Crystal.

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