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Press Release


Internationally Recognized Epidemiologist At SBUMC Receives Prestigious Award For Outstanding Contributions In Medicine

Tue, 12 Dec 2006, 10:26:00

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M. Cristina Leske, M.D., M.P.H., DSc (hon), Distinguished Professor of Preventive Medicine and Ophthalmology at Stony Brook University Medical Center, in center, received the 2006 Marion Spencer Fay Award from the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. The award is presented annually to a woman physician or scientist of distinction. Flanking Dr. Leske are Nathalie Bartle, EdD, Chair of the Selection Committee of the Marion Spencer Fay Award (left), and Lynn Yeakel, MSM (L), Director of the Institute.

STONY BROOK, N.Y., December 12, 2006 – M. Cristina Leske, M.D., M.P.H., DSc (hon), Distinguished Professor of Preventive Medicine and Ophthalmology at Stony Brook University Medical Center, was selected to receive the 2006 Marion Spencer Fay Award for her international epidemiological research in ophthalmology and cancer, for advancing knowledge of health disparities, and for her outstanding record in medicine and public health. She received the honor on December 4 from the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.

“We chose Dr. Leske as the recipient of this annual award from a brilliant assembly of nominees from across the nation,” said Lynn H. Yeakel, M.S.M., (L) Director, Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership. The Institute heralded Dr. Leske as a groundbreaking role model for women in medicine, especially for Latinas. The organization also honored Dr. Leske for her voluntary teaching and mentoring in the United States and Latin America and for being awarded two Distinguished Professorships.

“Dr. Leske personifies the ideal and intent of this award,” said Richard N. Fine, M.D., Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “She has incredible credentials, inspires our students, and we are privileged to have her on our faculty.”

Dr. Leske is the only Stony Brook faculty member elected into the prestigious Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences and the first woman to chair a medical school department at Stony Brook. She is internationally recognized for her epidemiologic studies on eye diseases and cancer. She was the Principal Investigator of the first and largest study to determine major causes of blindness in persons of African descent, as well as other landmark studies in ophthalmic epidemiology, with implications for the prevention of blindness and the delivery of eye care.

She is credited by the medical community for advancing the knowledge of health disparities in visual loss and providing important evidence to guide patient care. Dr. Leske also conducted a far-ranging study on electromagnetic fields and breast cancer on Long Island and is involved in research to determine risk factors for breast and prostate cancer in Black populations.

In its 44th year, the award is presented to a woman physician or scientist of distinction who has made “exceptionally significant contributions to health care.” It is named after Marion Spencer Fay, Ph.D., Dean and President of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania from 1946 to 1963. The award includes a $10,000 grant, which will be used to continue Dr. Leske’s research in the Division of Epidemiology.

“I am highly honored by my selection to receive this award and will strive to continue Dr. Fay’s legacy,” said Dr. Leske.

Dr. Leske has received a number of professional awards. In 2004, she received the Harvard Public Health Alumni Award of Merit. This award is the highest honor bestowed by Harvard to its alumni, in recognition to outstanding contributions to public health. She also has an honorary degree of Doctor in Science from the University of the West Indies. She received the Congressional recognition as a Local Legend from the American Medical Women Association/National Library of Medicine in 2004, and is the recipient of various community awards, such as Woman of the Year in Health, Outstanding Woman of the Year in Science, and Hispanic Heritage awards.

Dr. Leske lives in Old Field, with her husband, Gary, and has three adult sons.

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© Stony Brook University 2006

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