New York State Department of Health Presents Commissioner’s Recognition Awards

August 1, 2005

HHH employee takes a top honor

Staff from throughout the New York State Department of Health gathered in Albany last month for the presentation of the annual Commissioner’s Recognition Awards. Dr. Antonia Novello, New York State Commissioner of Health, took the opportunity to praise those being honored and to express her appreciation for their efforts and dedication. Helen Scharfman, Ph.D., Director of the Helen Hayes Hospital Center for Neural Recovery and Rehabilitation Research, was presented with the Employee of the Year Award.

“Dr. Scharfman’s daily work involves unlocking the secrets of the human brain,” stated Dr. Novello. “Her research in neuroscience may one day help people with spinal cord injuries walk again. And ultimately, her research will offer hope for better recovery and rehabilitation to people with traumatic brain injuries and neurological conditions of many kinds.”

Dr. Scharfman has co-authored over 100 articles, abstracts and reviews and has co-edited four books in the field of neuroscience. She is the recipient of millions of dollars in research grant funding, including funding from the National Institutes of Health.
“She is driven by one ever-riding goal – to bring a better quality of life to people with neurological conditions and injuries,” stated Dr. Novello. “I believe there can be no greater goal than this one, and we are fortunate to count this dedicated and excellent scientist as one of our own.”

Dr. Scharfman is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Neurology at Columbia University. She is a graduate of Vassar College, where she received her B.A. in Biopsychology, and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, where she received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology. Her training continued with a postdoctoral fellowship in Neurophysiology at the University of Washington, Seattle, and subsequently as a Research Associate at SUNY Stony Brook in Neurobiology and Behavior.

The HHH Center for Neural Recovery and Rehabilitation Research (CNRRR) is dedicated to understanding the causes underlying neurological and psychiatric diseases, and reasons for cell death after stroke or trauma, including brain and spinal cord injury. Basic research projects address these issues: how neurogenesis and gliogenesis in the adult brain can improve function after brain or spinal cord injury; effects of neurotrophic factors in disease; basic mechanisms of epilepsy and neurodegenerative illness; the structure and function of limbic areas such as the hippocampus. Scientists utilize diverse techniques including in vitro and in vivo neurophysiology, immunocytochemistry, stereology and transgenic models.

“As Director of our Center for Neural Recovery and Rehabilitation Research, Dr. Scharfman’s work is cutting-edge and we are very proud that she has received this much deserved recognition,” says hospital CEO Magdalena Ramirez. “Her work is advancing our understanding of spinal cord injury treatment and recovery and is making tremendous contributions to our hospital’s reputation for excellence in spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation and research.”