Faculty Excellence Awards – September 2009
Women in Science, Dentistry and Medicine Professional Achievement Award


While it’s natural for WISDM to look out for accomplished women to honor with its annual Professional Achievement Award, sometimes it’s just as important to look in. This year’s award recipient is the president of the WISDM Executive Council, Mary Helen Hackney, M.D., a superior medical oncologist specializing in breast cancer, and Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine.

“I have known Dr. Hackney for almost 20 years,” said Harry D. Bear, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, Division of Surgical Oncology. “She is clearly an outstanding role model for physicians generally and oncologists in particular, not only for her outstanding patient care but also for her dedication to teaching, mentorship and clinical research. Her dedication and empathy for her patients are incredible and serve as an example to all of those around her, including myself.”

“I can attest to the fact that patients derive their courage and spirit to fi ght their illness from the strength and care that they feel from their oncologist,” added Kelsey E.S. Salley, M.D., Associate Program Director for Women’s Health. “Dr. Hackney’s compassionate approach to patient care, leadership abilities and mentoring relationship with so many residents, students and fellows are among the many qualities that make her an ideal role model deserving of this prestigious award. “

In nominating Dr. Hackney for the WISDM award, Brian J Kaplan, M.D., Program Director, General Surgery Residency, commended her skills as an oncologist, educator and mentor: “First and foremost, Dr. Mary Helen Hackney is the consummate oncologist….” In addition, “she is an excellent teacher and it is not unusual that students and residents line up to spend some time with her.”

“She is well known for her professionalism, and super care of patients, and is looked on as a role model by both medical students and residents,” agreed James P. Neifeld, M.D., Stuart McGuire Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery.

Dr. Hackney’s efforts on behalf of Massey Cancer Center’s Rural Outreach Program, for which she served as Director, have brought high level cancer care to those who otherwise would have been unable to receive it. She also has been a long-time volunteer physician at the CrossOver Clinic serving those in the Richmond area who have no other medical home.

“Dr. Hackney’s work through WISDM as well as other institutional service has helped to foster professional development of many women in the medical center, myself included,” added Cecelia H. Boardman, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 
Colleague Laurie Lyckholm, M.D., Associate Professor, Hematology/Oncology and Palliative Medicine concurred: “She has worked tenaciously to elevate women’s issues and causes in both the University and the Commonwealth of Virginia. She is a tremendous force in support of women everywhere.”

“She is looked up to by women in all aspects of medicine as a compassionate and distinguished clinician who always offers the most up-to-date care in a caring way and as a teacher and mentor who can pass the information on to others who will hopefully be able to follow in her footsteps,” summarized and commended Dr. Bear. “We are very fortunate to have her here and I can think of no one more deserving of this honor.”