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Weill Cornell Medicine Honors Dr. Barbara Hempstead

March 4, 2020


– Barbara is a visionary. – Barbara is a scientist. – Barb is driven. – Barbara is a very
likable natural leader. – Barbara is passionate about her science. – Barb is my hero, I’m
gonna tear up (laughs). (gentle music) – Barbara was very close to my dad. He brought that inquisitiveness, curiousness on how things worked. Our father was a physicist and
when Barb expressed interest in biology she got full
support from both parents. They were just thrilled in watching her go through grad school. – I remember when Barbara
joined us as an intern. I spotted her quickly because
she has that special talent that it’s easy to recognize. – She was working with
a colleague of mine, Moses Chao, in his lab. I knew from him what an extraordinary young scientist he felt she was. – She would come in the
morning with a white coat on, usually a stethoscope
and start an experiment. I think she was very
capable of asking questions and those questions led her to take risks. – In science, anytime you say something that most people haven’t
thought of yet, it’s risky. What Barb has studied is the
role that growth factors play in allowing one neuron to
talk to another neuron. She found that these growth factors that we always thought did positive things in the developing and in
the mature nervous system could actually do negative things. This effects everything we
do, every thought we have. – Through the years we
realized these trophic factors actually have effects
on learning and memory, anxiety and depression,
and even on obesity. – As she’s making these
discoveries, or these hypotheses, she’s thinking about how it
might help one of her patients. Really changed the course
of the way the field moved. – When I began in science, and Barb, a few years later began in science, there were very few women who
were doing what we were doing. So you had to really forge your own way, and she did so because I
believe she’s passionate about the work she does
and she also believes in her science. – Barb is an incredible
role model for other women. There are probably hundreds
of medical students who are women whose lives
she’s directly impacted. – Her lab was just a wonderful
place to be a grad student. It was alive, it was vibrant, we had great scientific conversations, and she was really collaborative. – When I started as a junior scientist, I was stunned to see that
Barb was at the bench, or in the cell culture hood with all the other graduate students and post-docs. And the fact that she does that suggests a certain level of commitment
to the scientific process. – Barb and I worked very closely together when we were Co-Division Chiefs in the Division of Hematology
and Medical Oncology. I supported her, she supported me. Barb basically built the
sixth floor research. She helped redesign it, she
helped hire additional faculty, many of which are still at Weill Cornell. She’s shown her ability
to stimulate people to make them work at their highest level. One of the reason that is ’cause she works at a very high level. – She was at a peak of
her research career, prior to being asked by
Central Administration to focus on medical education. As a scientist that’s a huge ask but she took on the challenge
and the rest is history. One of the most significant contributions as a leader was when she served as a Senior Associate for medical education. – She led Weill Cornell
through an incredible re-accreditation re-licensing of their whole entire medical school and she had to do it all in
a very compressed timeframe. – Barb is the consummate
institutional citizen. If I look at her career path
from the very beginning, from the time that she came
here for training until now, every step of the way she’s
fulfilled incredibly valuable institutional roles and she’s
done it with complete heart and with complete dedication. I do not think that Weill Cornell Medicine would be the same without
having had a Barb Hempstead. – As Dean of Graduate School I think one of Barb’s great
strengths will be her ability to create a collaboration across divisions and across departments. – For Barbara, her future’s now. Now is the moment to get things done and to fulfill our
missions for our students. – Whether it’s as a
scientist, as a researcher, as an educator, or as an academic leader, you see all these different
parts of Barb coming through. And how she do that and be
so kind and compassionate, that really inspires me. (gentle music)

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