NEW YORK, Jan. 23, 2018/PRNewswire/ -- WebMD Health Corp., the leading source of health information, celebrated the accomplishments of four extraordinary people who are meeting health and medical challenges head-on and working tirelessly to solve them through ingenuity and dedication during its annual Health Hero Awards event in New York City.
FS1 host Jenna Wolfe kicked off the awards presentation after remarks from WebMD Chief Executive Officer Steve Zatz, MD. Wolfe discussed the impact that health and wellness have had on her life and noted the importance of recognizing inspiring people who have overcome obstacles to achieve health and happiness. On hand to present the awards were actors and comedians Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan; actor Micah Fowler of ABC's Speechless and his sister, actor Kelsey Fowler; Erin Gomez, MD; and Harold Koplewicz, MD, of the Child Mind Institute.
Chloe Fernandez, Advocate At just 11 years old, Chloe Fernandez is a published author, reaching and teaching people of all ages about primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). At age 6, she was diagnosed with PCD, a rare genetic disease that damages cilia, hair-like structures that sweep mucus out of the lungs. PCD builds up mucus, causing breathing problems and repeated lung infections. Living with PCD has meant major life changes for the sixth-grader. Chloe is home-schooled to avoid exposing her to the kinds of infections that used to land her in the hospital. During one of those hospital visits, she and her mother went to the library to check out a book on PCD, but there were none. That is when Chloe decided to write her own book. With help from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, she published PCD Has Nothing on Me! She's donated the proceeds to Make-A-Wish and the PCD Foundation.
Kavya Kopparapu, Inventor Seventeen-year-old Kavya Kopparapu has shown her dedication to improving health and wellness within her community and beyond by creating medical devices that help patients and health care providers overcome unique challenges. Last year, she invented Eyeagnosis, a 3-D printed lens system and mobile app. The device snaps a photo of the retina and analyzes it with artificial intelligence to diagnose diabetic retinopathy, a diabetes complication that can lead to blindness, without the need for an extensive eye exam. Eyeagnosis isn't Kopparapu's first invention. During her freshman year of high school, she developed the MediKey mobile app, which lets EMTs quickly and securely pull medical information from unconscious patients' smartphones.
Lauren Singer, Investigator Growing up, Lauren Singer thought her older sister, Jodie, was just a little quirky, but she later learned Jodie has autism, a developmental disability that affects her communication and social skills. When Singer was in sixth grade, she volunteered with Sunday/Funday, an enrichment program at the Jewish Community Center in Scarsdale, NY, for kids like Jodie. Through her volunteer work, Singer became more aware of what it means to live with autism and was inspired to pursue treatments for the condition. After her sophomore year of high school, Singer spent the summer in the lab of autism researcher Joseph Buxbaum, PhD, at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She joined a team of scientists who were testing insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) as an autism treatment. The following summer, she took part in another study using EEG (a test that measures the brain's electrical activity) to diagnose an autism subtype, Phelan-McDermid syndrome. Singer continues to pursue treatments as a freshman at Yale University, studying perceptive cognitive science, and is an ideal example of a health hero determined to identify a gap in knowledge and gather health information in new ways that may lead to a discovery to improve patients' lives.
Donna Magid, MD, MEd, Mentor of the Year In addition to her appointments as a professor of radiology, orthopedic surgery, and functional anatomy at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the JHU SOM Horizontal Strand in Diagnostic Imaging, Magid is affectionately known as a mentor to countless medical students. She knows firsthand the value of mentors, having had several in medical school who helped change the direction of her career. She in turn is now a constant presence in her students' lives, from day one of medical school until they leave for their residency. In addition, Magid has launched two computer-based tools to help her students succeed. TeamRads is a website of radiology resources, and Apps of Steel steers students through the residency application process.
"For the past 11 years, we've been celebrating Health Heroes – extraordinary individuals meeting health and medical challenges head-on and working tirelessly to solve them with an ingenuity and dedication that deserves recognition," said WebMD CEO Steve Zatz.
"This new generation of WebMD Health Heroes focuses on not now, not yesterday, but the future. They are the best and they are the brightest young people working to improve health, to improve wellness, and quality of care," said Jenna Wolfe, host of the WebMD Health Heroes Awards presentation.
"Less than one year ago, our lives were forever changed. My wife and writing partner, Jeannie, was diagnosed with a brain tumor," said Jim Gaffigan presenter of the Inventor Award, alongside wife Jeannie Gaffigan.
"As difficult as the situation was, it helped me realize how loved I am, and the outpouring of support from friends, family, and fans gave me hope for humanity. Meeting the WebMD Health Heroes today further strengthens that hope," said Jeannie Gaffigan, presenter of the Inventor Award, alongside husband Jim Gaffigan.
"I live with cerebral palsy, but my condition does not define me. That's why I wanted to be here today to recognize Chloe (winner of the Advocate Award). Like me, she is dedicated to showing kids that anything is possible," said Micah Fowler, presenter of the Advocate Award, alongside sister Kelsey Fowler.
Each WebMD Health Hero received a $25,000 donation from WebMD to the charitable cause of her choice and will be featured in the March/April issue of WebMD Magazine.
Additional images and video available upon request.
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