Dr. Hartley Wins 2021 Apuzzo Award; Dr. Bander Awarded 2021 Gaposchkin Prize

Dr. Benjamin Hartley has been named the winner of the 2021 Michael L. J. Apuzzo Resident Literature Award for Creativity and Innovation. Dr. Hartley was honored for “PrIMES: An Innovative Mentorship Program to Increase Underrepresented Minority Matriculation into Medical School,” to be published by Academic Medicine, the journal of the Association of American Medical Schools.

“This paper and this program truly exemplify the spirit of the award,” says Dr. Apuzzo, for whom the award is named. “Creativity and innovation are the keys to moving neurosurgery forward – they are priceless attributes that may appear for a moment or last for an entire career. This mentorship program will help us find the new vanguard of modern medicine by creating new outreach to the whole population.”

Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield, the Vice-Chairman for Academic Affairs added, “Dr. Hartley should be congratulated on taking a concept that many have discussed and agreed exists but have felt powerless to address. By creating a concrete solution to begin to tackle the complex question of how best to address healthcare disparities, Dr. Hartley and PrIMES are poised to move this issue from discussion to action, and for this we are exceptionally proud!”

Dr. Hartley co-founded PrIMES in 2018 with Dr. Caitlin Hoffman, MD,  the Department of Neurosurgery Diversity Champion. The mission of PrIMES (Program for Individualized Mentorship Education Solutions) is to reduce the healthcare education diversity gap through a targeted mentorship program between current and prospective URiM (Underrepresented Minorities in Medicine) medical students. PrIMES pairs college students from underrepresented demographics who are interested in medicine with current medical students. The program provides a comprehensive curriculum, using novel tracking tools to assess and record mastery of targeted objectives along the way.

The Apuzzo Award was established in 2017 to recognize outstanding work by a Weill Cornell Medicine neurosurgery resident that exemplifies original thinking. Previous winners include Dr. Brenton Pennicooke (2017)Dr. Thomas Link (2018), Dr. Whitney Parker and Dr. Rapoport, who shared the 2019 prize, and Dr. Ibrahim Hussain (2020). See more about the Apuzzo Award

Evan Bander, MD, was awarded the Christopher G. Gaposchkin Resident Research Award for Distinction in Scientific Inquiry in Neurological Surgery for the second year in a row, this time for his research project titled “Epigentic and Functional Landscape of IDH mutant Glioma-associated Microglia and Macrophages.” Dr. Bander has been conducting his or post-doctoral research fellowship with Dr. Vivian Tabar, chair of the department of Neurological Surgery at MSKCC, studying the role of various components of the immune system’s regulation of brain tumor development and therapy. Dr Bander expects to pursue a career in clinical neurosurgical oncology following graduation.

The Gaposchkin Prize was established in 2014 in memory of Dr. Christopher Gaposchkin, who died three years after completing his neurosurgery residency at Weill Cornell in 1999. The award recognizes excellence in research by a neurosurgery resident. Previous winners have been Dr. Bander (2020), Dr. Whitney Parker (2019 and 2018)Dr. Hilarie Tomasiewicz (2017), Dr. Brenton Pennicooke (2016), and Dr. Peter Morgenstern and Dr. Dmitri Sigounas (who shared the 2015 prize).

“We couldn't be more proud of our trainees for their achievements,” says Dr. Greenfield. “Our focus at Weill Cornell Neurological Surgery remains cutting-edge innovation and compassionate creativity paired with translation into excellence in patient care. Both of this year’s winners have developed ideas that will continue to push the envelope in our care of patients with neurosurgical diseases of the brain and spine. In particular, in year which has had light focused on sometimes marginalized components of our society, I am gratified that our award winners have chosen to take their exceptional talents and focus them on communities which desperately need more resources, funding and solutions.”

The awards were announced and presented at the 2021 resident graduation celebration, which was held on June 12 at an outdoor, Covid-safe event. See news and photos from the graduation


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