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New HST scholarship fund created

Professor Martha Gray, MIT director of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, has announced a new $1 million scholarship fund to support research, study and training for HST students over the next 10 years. The Athina Martinos Research Scholarship Fund was established by Thanassis Martinos and family.

The fund will aid HST students doing research under the mentorship of faculty at Harvard, MIT and the Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals. The Martinos family hopes to encourage the development of outstanding young physician scientists and biomedical researchers, especially from their home country of Greece.

Dr. Daniel C. Shannon, chief of the Pediatric Pulmonary Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, heads the committee responsible for selecting the Athina Martinos Research Scholars, and he will travel to Greece to meet with university students interested in pursuing a career in medical science.

"We are deeply honored that the Martinos family has chosen to help our students in memory of Athina," said Dr. Gray, the J.W. Kieckhefer Associate Professor of Medical and Electrical Engineering. "These scholarships will allow our outstanding MD and PhD students to prepare for careers in the application of basic science and engineering to important problems in human health."

"Research work is an integral component of our HST education," said Harvard HST Director Joseph V. Bonventre. "Funding students during their time in the laboratory is a top priority for us."

The 1998 HST Athina Martinos Research Scholars are MIT graduate students Marc Burock, Paul Dimitri, K. Domenica Karavitaki, Luis Carlos Maas III (also an MD candidate), Mark Oster, and Constantinos Pitris; and Harvard MD students Martin Niethammer (also a Harvard PhD candidate), Steph-anie Nonas and Nicholas Houstis, who is also a graduate student in the Department of Biology.

In 1976, Dr. Shannon (then director of Pediatric Intensive Care at MGH) first became involved with the Martinos family, consulting in the care of the gravely ill godchild of Thanassis Martinos, flying with her to Boston, where she was successfully treated at MGH. Last year, Mr. Martinos's daughter Athina died suddenly at the age of 24. Dr. Shannon's own daughter Maura had also died unexpectedly on the day after her wedding in 1991.

In commiserating with Mr. Martinos, he explained how it had helped his family cope with Maura's death to establish a summer research scholarship for women at Barnard College, her alma mater. Many HST faculty and students, as well as the Martinos family, contributed to this fund, which has supported 15 women over the past five summers. Mr. Martinos consequently asked Dr. Shannon for guidance in establishing a similar scholarship to honor the memory of his own daughter.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 18, 1998.

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