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16th Annual Wenger Awards Honors Those Making Extraordinary Contributions To Advancing Women's Heart Health
5/19/2016 12:36:12 PM

WomenHeart CEO Mary McGowan, Black Girls RUN! Co-Founder Ashley Hicks, WomenHeart Chair Kathy Webster, Dr. Nanette Wenger (PRNewsFoto/WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease)

Two individuals and an organization were honored this week for their leadership in advancing women's heart health at the 16th annual Wenger Awards, at the East Hall at Union Station in Washington, DC. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease hosts the Wenger Awards annually in recognition of those who have made extraordinary contributions to women's heart health. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in women. This year's Wenger Awards centered around the theme of young women and heart disease to bring attention to the increasing prevalence of heart disease among younger women. The event's Master of Ceremony was Meagan Fitzgerald, Reporter, NBC News 4 (Washington, DC).

"The 2016 Wenger awardees have done extraordinary things in the fight against heart disease in young women," said Mary McGowan, Chief Executive Officer of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. "We focused our attention this evening on the alarming fact that even though coronary mortality rates in America have declined overall, heart disease and its precursors are on the rise among young women between the ages of 35 and 55," McGowan added.

The Wenger Awards are named for Nanette Kass Wenger, MD, pioneer in women's cardiovascular medicine and research. The Wenger Awards is the only national recognition for those who are making extraordinary contributions to women's heart health. This year's honorees are:

The Honorable Patricia Scott Schroeder

The Honorable Patricia Scott Schroeder, former U.S. Representative from Colorado, was honored with the 2016 Wenger Award for Excellence in Public Service for championing women's heart health throughout her 24 year tenure in Congress from 1973 to 1997). Schroeder was one of the driving forces behind the release of the 1990 Government Accountability Office Report that found that women and female cells and tissues were not equally represented in National Institutes of Health-funded medical research. In response to the report's findings, Schroder introduced the Women's Health Equity Act, a bill to promote greater equity in the delivery of health care services to women through expanded research on women's health issues and improved access to health care services for women, including preventive health services.

Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD 

Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD, holds a joint appointment in the Department of Epidemiology at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and the Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, at the Emory University School of Medicine. Vaccarino received the 2016 Wenger Award for Excellence in Medical Research for her groundbreaking research on the role of psychological stress and mental health factors on cardiovascular risk in women. Vaccarino led the MIMS (Myocardial Infarction and Mental Stress) study on emotional stress and cardiovascular disease in young women. This groundbreaking research demonstrated young women's vulnerability to the negative effects of stress on the heart, which may result in earlier onset of heart disease or more negative health outcomes if the disease is already present. The study's findings will significantly help improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in younger women. Dr. Vaccarino is also committed to raising awareness among health care providers about women's vulnerability to emotional stress-related heart health outcomes.

Black Girls RUN! 

The organization Black Girls RUN! was recognized with the 2016 Wenger Award for Excellence in Community Service for encouraging African-American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority and create a movement to lower the obesity rate among women. By providing encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners and combating the obesity epidemic, Black Girls RUN! is helping reduce the incidence of heart disease and other chronic diseases among women. What started off as an online blog has grown to be a nationwide movement to include 70 running groups across the nation, more than 120,000 members, an annual national race and conference, fitness clinic tours, national race partnerships and Walk Before You RUN! 5K training.

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is the nation's only patient centered organization serving the 43 million American women living with or at risk for heart disease – the leading cause of death for women. WomenHeart is solely devoted to advancing women's heart health through advocacy, community education, and the nation's only patient support network for women living with heart disease. WomenHeart is both a coalition and a community of thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, healthcare professionals, and health advocates, all committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. To join or donate, visit

The 16h Annual Wenger Awards is sponsored by Novartis (Corporate Host); Burlington Stores; Pfizer, Inc.; Gilead; Amgen; Merck; United Health Foundation; Abbott Vascular; American Society of Echocardiography; St. Jude Medical Foundation; CoLucid Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; PhRMA; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP; and Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman.

SOURCE WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease


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