Einstein/Montefiore Department of Medicine

Dr. Liise-anne Pirofski Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Liise-anne Pirofski Lifetime Achievement Award
Allen Spiegel, MD, (r) presents Einstein Alumni Association's 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Liise-anne Pirofski (m), at Einstein's commencement ceremony.

Liise-anne Pirofski, MD, a professor of Medicine and of Microbiology & Immunology, holder of the Selma and Dr. Jacques Mitrani Chair in Biomedical Research, and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, was selected by the Einstein Alumni Association as the recipient of its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Pirofski was presented with the award by Allen M.Spiegel, MD, Einstein’s Marilyn and Stanley and Katz dean, at Einstein’s commencement ceremony, held on May 23 at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes Dr. Pirofski for her extraordinary contributions as a renowned physician-scientist. Throughout her career, she has focused on generating new scientific knowledge about immunity to infectious diseases and on mentoring the next generation of infectious-diseases clinicians and researchers.

Dr. Pirofski is among a small group of women who have received this prestigious honor, which is bestowed on Einstein alumni who have attained distinction in their fields and have made major contributions to the health and welfare of underserved communities. Einstein has more than 8000 alumni.

“Being a division chief at Einstein for over a decade has enabled me to contribute to my field through my research, to help shape the career paths of faculty who aspire to academic careers and to build clinical programs that have enabled Montefiore Einstein to 'do more,'” said Dr. Pirofski, a 1982 graduate of the College of Medicine and a member of the Einstein faculty since 1990. “I was humbled and honored to receive the award, particularly because Einstein has produced so many trailblazers and leaders.”

With continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for more than 25 years, Dr. Pirofski’s research programs endeavor to develop novel therapies and vaccines for Streptococcus pneumoniae, the main cause of bacterial pneumonia in the United States and globally, and Cryptococcus neoformans, a fungus that causes meningitis in patients with AIDS, solid-organ transplants and other types of immunosuppressive conditions.

Her passion for teaching future clinicians, scientists and leaders is reflected by the many Ph.D. students, postdoctoral researchers and junior faculty she has mentored over the years.

>“My biggest achievement is to be in a position where I can mentor and help people achieve their professional aspirations,” said the 2013 recipient of Einstein’s Faculty Mentoring Award.

At a recent Department of Medicine Faculty Mentoring Program session, Dr. Pirofski stressed to junior faculty the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance, reflecting on the challenges she faced while raising a young daughter and building her career as a successful physician-scientist. “No matter what happened in my day,” she noted, “I made sure I was always home for dinner.”

Dr. Pirofski has authored more than 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has presented her work widely. She has been elected to membership in many professional societies, including the Association of American Physicians, American Academy of Microbiology, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has chaired or been a member of numerous NIH study sections. As chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases for more than a decade, she has spearheaded the development of novel programs to deliver state-of-the-art care to patients in the Montefiore Health System.

A former director of Infectious Diseases course at Einstein, she has been recognized for her outstanding teaching skills with membership in the College of Medicine’s Leo M. Davidoff Society and with the Harry Eagle Award for Outstanding Basic Science Teaching.

Dr. Pirofski received her B.A. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.D. from Einstein. After completing her internship and residency in internal medicine at Bellevue and New York University Medical Center, she returned to Einstein for her infectious diseases fellowship and a postdoctoral research fellowship.

She offered the following advice to future leaders: “Science and medicine are very big, they have room for everyone. Find and follow your passion, do what you think is important, and you will make a difference every day.”