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Partnership for Women's Health Honors Israeli Physician

The first International Athena Award was presented to Professor Leonardo Reisin of the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, Israel, by the Partnership for Women's Health at Columbia University at its Annual gala held Feb. 12, 2001.

The Partnership for Women's Health at Columbia University, founded and directed by Marianne Legato, M.D., F.A.C.P., is a unique collaboration between academia and the private sector focusing on gender-specific medical research and educational programs for health care professionals and the public. The Partnerships's Annual Gala and Athena Awards honors leaders from the media, public and private industry who have contributed to women's health and gender-specific medicine. Proceeds support the M. Iren´┐Ż Professorship in Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. Dr. Reisin is truly a visionary in women's health," says Dr. Legato, professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. "We chose to present him with this award because of what he had done both professionally and politically to help the women and men of his community."

Dr. Reisin is the head of the Division of Cardiology and founder and director of the Heart Institute at Barzilai Medical Center. The Heart Institute aspires to maintain the Israeli tradition of excellence in research, medical education, and service to a community that has suffered from severe social problems stemming largely from immigration. In the last five years, Dr. Reisin has been one of the most active principal investigators in clinical trials in Israel. He founded the first "Women Heart" outpatient clinic interested in the investigation of cardiovascular disease in women. With permission from the Israeli government, the "Women Heart" outpatient clinic was established in a rarely used emergency ICU unit on the condition that it could be broken down and converted back to an ICU unit within a few hours. Dr. Legato visited Dr. Reisin's clinic last February, when she traveled to Israel as a visiting professor for the Fourth Annual Women's Health Dialogues, a joint program of the Israel Association for the Advancement of Women's Health and Hadassah-Israel.

Dr. Reisin received his medical degree from the National University of Cordoba, Argentina, in 1962. He completed postgraduate training in internal medicine and cardiology at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; in internal medicine at the University of Cordoba; and in research training in cardiology at the National Heart Institute in London, England. Dr. Reisin moved to Ashkelon and began his work at the Barzilai Medical Center in 1972. He joined the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, where he was promoted to associate professor of cardiology in 1997. In 1992, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration named Dr. Reisin "FDA Investigator for International Bioresearch Studies," a first for an Israeli investigator in cardiovascular research. In May 1998, Dr. Reisin organized and presided over "Women and Heart Disease," the first international conference held in Ashkelon.

Dr. Reisin was quite honored by the award he was presented. And he also appeared to be a good will ambassador of Ashkelon depicting this city on the Mediterranean as the oldest in the world. In the last 5,000 years it hosted Philistines, Jews, Arabs, Greeks, Roman crusaders, Turks, British and once again Jews. He spoke of Ashkelon's famous inhabitants: "Goliath, the big one, Samson, the strong one, Delilah, Alexander the Great, Richard the Lionhearted, and even the Clintons for a few days. Its 120,000 inhabitants can fill up a few blocks in Manhattan," he remarked. "It is home to 3 major religions, 102 languages, 120 nationalities, 15 political parties and only 2 genders," he said. "This is the reason I picked one for special studies. It is safer and politically correct," he added. Finally he thanked everyone and invited everyone to visit his home town.

Israeli Ambassador, David Ivry, said the state of Israel was founded by pioneers and visionaries and that Professor Reisin was a modern day visionary establishing the first women's out-clinic which has saved many lives.

The vision for the Partnership for Women's Health was to address the gender bias in medicine. As one speaker said some women, instead of trusting doctors, had trusted their instincts, would have pushed for early detection of breast cancer. Also that more women than men die from strokes but the treatment of this and other diseases are geared towards men.

Dr. Marianne Legato is held in such high regard by this gathering of doctors and health care professionals for making the medical community take note of the necessity for scholarly research and educational programs focusing on how best to treat half of the population of the world - who, by the way, are responsible for the other half being around.

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