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[March 18 ,2008]

Downstate’s History of Achievement to be Celebrated 

June 14 Banquet to Benefit Medical Research

A gala banquet to celebrate Downstate Medical Center’s proud history of achievement will be held June 14 at the Vanderbilt at South Beach, Staten Island.  This major fundraising event will bring together many of the top medical authorities and researchers in their fields, along with distinguished business and community leaders, for an elegant evening of recognition and celebration. The first in a series of annual events to highlight the medical center’s leading role in education, science, and patient care, this year’s fundraiser will help support medical research at Downstate.

Hosted by Lynda Baquero, anchor of WNBC’s “Live at Five” show, the inaugural gala has all the elements of an exciting evening. The roster of celebrity guests includes Larry King, known to millions of radio and television audiences as the “master of the mike.”  Mr. King will be honored for his dedication to promoting heart health. Since 1988, the Larry King Cardiac Foundation has raised millions to help people without proper health insurance receive the cardiac care they need.

Also being honored is Dr. Max Harry Weil, one of the fathers of critical care medicine. A Downstate graduate, Class of 1952, Dr. Weil pioneered the development of the first modern intensive care unit and helped train many of the top physicians working in critical care medicine.

The list of honorees also includes Ray Suarez, writer and senior correspondentfor The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, andJoseph and Shirley Wershba, journalists and TV news producers.

Proceeds from the gala fundraiser will help advance basic and clinical research at Downstate, birthplace of some of the major breakthroughs in modern medicine. The first full-body human images using MRI were made at Downstate, and nitric oxide’s role as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system was discovered in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Furchgott, winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine. Dr. Furchgott’s work has paved the way for new treatments to improve cardiovascular and reproductive health. 

Douglas Lazzaro, MD, chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and event chairman for Celebrate Downstate, is confident that this level of success can be sustained and even exceeded. “Recognized for its contributions to medical science in the last century, Downstate is one of today’s leaders in neuroscience and biotechnology,” he says. “Additional funding will advance all of our outstanding ongoing research, help us unravel the causes of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy, and find new treatments for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, macular degeneration and other serious illnesses.”