HINJ Hosts Life Sciences Celebration 2017; Honors Six in Public Affairs, Research, STEM Education and Patient Advocacy

(L. to r.) HINJ Board Chair Yin Becker (Stryker), Kelly Nagle Witkowski (Susan G. Komen North Jersey), Dr. Elfrida Benjamin (Amicus Therapeutics), HINJ Steering Committee Chair Wendy Lazarus (Pfizer), student Owais Aftab (Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences), Superitendent Dianne Veilleux, Dr. Robert Nagele (Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine) Principal Terri Ann Sullivan, Senator Diane Allen, HINJ President and CEO Dean J. Paranicas and Dr. Robert Prezant (PharmFest founder)

New Brunswick, NJ, October 12, 2017 ― Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ) this morning honored four individuals, a nonprofit patient advocacy organization and a public high school for their meritorious contributions in public service, medical innovation/human health, patient access/advocacy and STEM education.  

The recipients of HINJ’s fifth annual honors — presented at the Historic Trenton Masonic Temple — were:

The Honorable Bob Franks Public Service Award

The Honorable Diane Allen
Member, New Jersey Senate (Burlington)

HINJ honored Senator Allen for her nearly 22 years of distinguished legislative service that has earned her a reputation as being one of the most effective patient advocates in the New Jersey Senate.  In the past year alone, Senator Allen, who will retire from the Senate in January, authored laws relating to elder abuse; domestic violence; improved support for veterans challenged with addiction and mental health issues; and the expansion of telemedicine, which is revolutionizing patient access to health care.


Elfrida R. Benjamin, Ph.D.
Senior Director, Translational Sciences, Amicus Therapeutics, Inc.

HINJ honored Dr. Benjamin for her highly respected translational science research in the development of pharmacological chaperones and enzyme replacement therapies for the treatment of lysosomal storage diseases such as Fabry and Pompe diseases.  Dr. Benjamin’s innovative work is helping usher in a revolutionary chapter in drug development: precision medicine, an approach for drug development and disease treatment and prevention that factors in the individual patient’s genetic makeup.


Robert G. Nagele, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Geriatrics & Gerontology
Adjunct Professor, Department of Cell Biology
Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine

HINJ honored Dr. Nagele for his translational scientific research, including groundbreaking work in neurodegenerative diseases.  Dr. Nagele started a rigorous research program at the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) – School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) that set the stage for an outstanding research and learning environment at RowanSOM.  In 2016, Dr. Nagele and his team were globally recognized for their work in the development of a diagnostic blood test for Alzheimer’s disease, which could usher in a non-invasive way to diagnose, with a single drop of blood, the disease as well as for other conditions in their earliest stages.

STEM Education

Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences

HINJ honored Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences as “one of the crown jewels of New Jersey’s public schools.”  Located in Woodbridge, the Academy’s focus is to provide high school students — 66 percent of whom are female — with an intense curriculum to prepare them for college majors in the medical and biomedical research fields.  The award was accepted by Superintendent Dianne Veilleux, Principal Terri Ann Sullivan and student Owais Aftab.

Patient Access and Advocacy

Susan G. Komen North Jersey

HINJ honored Susan G. Komen North Jersey, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.  Komen North Jersey’s mission is to provide breast health services, education and patient outreach in its 9-county region: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.  To date, the organization has granted more than $25 million in funding for national research and local community programs.  The award was accepted by Executive Director Kelly Nagle Witkowski.

Special Recognition

Robert S. Prezant, Ph.D.
Former Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, Montclair State University
Founder, PharmFest
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Southern Connecticut State University

HINJ presented a special award to Robert S. Prezant, Ph.D., who, during his career at Montclair State University, founded PharmFest.  This biennial conference is designed to explore the current issues and trends that impact the biopharmaceutical, medical technology and health sectors as well as broaden awareness of the future state of the life sciences industry, particularly in New Jersey.  In July 2017, Dr. Prezant became the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Southern Connecticut State University.

‘Much to Celebrate in New Jersey’s Life Sciences Community’

Commenting on HINJ’s Life Sciences Celebration 2017 and this year’s honorees, Yin C. Becker, Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, Stryker and Chair of HINJ’s Board of Trustees, said, “There is much to celebrate in New Jersey’s life sciences community.  HINJ is delighted to recognize the achievements of this distinguished group, who, like our member companies, have demonstrated a sustained commitment to medical innovation and improving the quality of care for patients.”

HINJ President and Chief Executive Officer Dean J. Paranicas said, “It is entirely fitting that we honor the efforts of those who share our industry’s ideals.  The life sciences community in New Jersey has a long, distinguished and innovation-driven history that has benefitted patients around the world.  I am confident that we will long continue to be a global leader.”

To learn more about the annual HINJ Life Science Celebration — including about past (2013–2016) HINJ honorees — please visit HINJ’s Life Sciences Celebration page.

To view photos from HINJ’s 2017 Life Sciences Celebration, please click here.

About HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ)

Founded in 1997, the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ) serves as the voice for the state’s life sciences industry.  HINJ seeks to expand patient access to the most innovative biopharmaceuticals and medical devices and promote awareness of the industry’s impact on New Jersey’s quality of life and economic well-being. 

To learn more, please visit HINJ at or follow us via Twitter @ HINJ_ORG, Facebook @ HealthCareInstituteofNewJersey, LinkedIn @HealthCareInstituteOfNewJersey and YouTube @HINJNJ.

To learn more about the Life Sciences’ significant impact on New Jersey’s economy, please visit New Jersey’s Life Sciences: By the Numbers.


Print This Post Print This Post

Password Reset

Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.