Ruth A. Lawrence Wins Rochester Women's Council's Top Honor

January 24, 2008

"People have always asked what my business is...I tell them children. If you?re interested in a safe investment in today?s world, they?re one of the surest."

Ruth A. Lawrence, M.D.,  professor of Pediatrics, and Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the University of Rochester Medical Center, was named the winner of the 22nd annual ATHENA Award at a special luncheon at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center this afternoon.

The award, an international program with over 3000 recipients, was founded in 1982 to recognize and honor the achievements of outstanding and professional business women. Introduced to Rochester in 1987 by Women's Council of The Rochester Business Alliance, Inc., the program celebrates women of achievement in the community, noting their professional excellence and community service, and their active and generous assistance in helping other women develop professional excellence and leadership skills.

Lawrence is a pediatrician and neonatologist at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong and the medical director of the Ruth A. Lawrence Poison and Drug Information (formerly the Finger Lakes Regional Poison and Drug Information Center).

“People have always asked what my business is,” Lawrence said, while accepting the award. “I used to tell them babies. Now I tell them children. If you’re interested in a safe investment in today’s world, they’re one of the surest.”

Lawrence is renowned as a global expert on breastfeeding medicine; she literally “wrote the book” on the subject. The first edition of Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession published in 1980 and since has become the gold-standard for the scientific understanding of human lactation and clinical breastfeeding practices. The text is presently in its sixth edition and has been translated into both Spanish and Japanese.

In 1995, Lawrence met with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, seeking a Catholic endorsement of breastfeeding from Pope John Paul II. She was successful – the Vatican embraced the cause with enthusiasm, encouraging mothers of the world to pursue this option as often as possible. In 2005, Lawrence became the editor (and creator) of Breastfeeding Medicine, a scientific journal that publishes quarterly.

Lawrence also helped to create Rochester’s first Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Units, as well as the poison and drug information center (housed in the University of Rochester Medical Center) that now bears her name. The center is second-oldest in the nation and the first to serve the hard of hearing. She also helped found Life Line, a predecessor to today’s 911 system, and guided the Health Association of Rochester and Monroe County for more than a decade.

A board member both at Our Lady of Mercy High School and the Girl Scouts of Monroe County, Lawrence actively champions young women and urges them to pursue their dreams. The first woman in Yale’s medical residency program, and a mother of nine, it’s clear that she pursued hers. Today, she continues to share wisdom with female students and physicians as the founder of Women in Science, Dentistry and Medicine (WISDM), a committee that sponsors events, mixers and lectures of special interest to women at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The WISDM group also championed the creation of a child care center nearby the medical center, effectively recruiting KinderCare to locate across the street on Crittenden Boulevard.

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