2012 / December

P&S Honors Partners at 2012 Crown Awards

P&S Honors Partners at 2012 Crown Awards

December 17, 2012

The College of Physicians and Surgeons celebrated its achievements in medical science while honoring some of the college’s most valued philanthropic partners at the third annual Crown Awards, held December 5 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The event raised $1.86 million to support students and faculty. This included a remarkable $925,000 matching gift from an anonymous donor.

Nearly 400 friends and supporters of P&S attended this year’s Crown Awards, as well as faculty, staff, and patients. The event was hosted by actor Richard Kind and served to highlight Columbia’s legacy of achievement in neuroscience. In particular, the evening paid tribute to those friends of P&S who have made vital contributions to the college and CUMC.

The 2012 Crown Awards honorees include:

Claire and Leonard Tow

Married for over 60 years, Claire and Leonard Tow have dedicated their resources and energy to benefit a number of causes across New York City. At Columbia University, their influence has ranged from Barnard College and the School of Journalism to the medical center, where the Tows have been instrumental to CUMC’s research of motor neuron diseases.

The couple’s early and continuing support for Columbia’s Motor Neuron Center has driven much-needed research into the currently incurable motor neuron diseases, which cause progressive paralysis in patients and usually lead to death. “The Tows are philanthropists who feel a deep responsibility to use their wealth for the good of humanity,” said Dean Lee Goldman, M.D., during the Crown Awards presentation.

Project A.L.S.

Meredith and Valerie Estess created Project A.L.S. with their sister Jenifer to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS usually occurs in adults, and like other motor neuron diseases, its causes remain largely unknown. In 2006, Project A.L.S. opened the first and only privately-funded laboratory dedicated to the study of ALS through stem cells, giving researchers an invaluable tool to understand the mechanisms that underlie the disease.

“Thanks to the multifaceted and generous partnership of Project A.L.S., Columbia has been transformed into one of the most extensive ALS research centers in the world,” Dr. Goldman said at the Crown Awards. “Columbia is incredibly fortunate to have them as our partners.”

Loren Eng and Dinakar Singh

Members of CUMC’s Board of Advisors, Loren Eng and Dinakar Singh are exceptional leaders whose guidance and unwavering support have contributed tremendously to the advancement of the medical center’s biomedical research. The couple’s efforts have focused on spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a disease similar to ALS that strikes during childhood. SMA is the most common genetic killer of infants and toddlers. As founders of the SMA Foundation, Eng and Singh, and their family, have spearheaded a wide-ranging effort to cure SMA, overseeing every stage of the quest for a treatment—from the lab to the clinic to the patient’s bedside.

Darryl C. De Vivo, M.D., co-director of the Columbia Motor Neuron Center, has praised the couple for their focus and diligence. “There are at least 6,000 rare diseases,” he said. “If each of these diseases had an advocate like Loren and Dinakar, it would just transform what we can provide for patients throughout the United States and the world.”