January 31, 2007

CONTACT: Susanne Hartman
(215) 349-5964

Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, of the University of Pennsylvania,
Wins 2007 Red Dress Award From Woman’s Day Magazine
Penn Researcher One of Three to be Recognized Nationally
for Exceptional Efforts in Fighting Heart Disease in Women

(PHILADELPHIA) - Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, a Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has won the 2007 Red Dress Award from Woman’s Day magazine. It is presented annually (this year to three individuals nationwide) to those who have made an exceptional contribution to fighting heart disease in women, the nation’s leading killer.

While studying for her PhD several years ago, Kumanyika, the associate dean for health promotion and disease prevention at Penn, admits she was captivated by the idea that everyday behaviors, such as eating salt or fruits and vegetables, could make a difference in major health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. She comments, “Cardiovascular disease seemed so preventable if we could only change the way people eat, but making these changes turns out to be quite a challenge.” Kumanyika said the importance of eating healthy and being physically active became even clearer to her when she began to study obesity and learned how much obesity relates to heart disease and affects, especially, women of color. “In my research work, I’m constantly looking for ways to reduce health disparities affecting ethnic minority and socially disadvantaged communities,” she adds.

In addition to Kumanyika’s significant research work in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, she also points to her clinical colleagues at Penn, “They are the ones in the trenches, day after day, counseling patient after patient on how to prevent or live with this devastating disease. They face the constant challenge of educating their patients about the real consequences of how heart disease silently kills the most women in this country every year.”

Kumanyika – who has a unique interdisciplinary background that integrates epidemiology, nutrition, prevention, minority health, aging, and women's health issues – is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, she holds a BA from Syracuse University, Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University, a PhD in Human Nutrition from Cornell University, and Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

Currently at Penn, Kumanyika is also the Founding Director of the Graduate Program in Public Health Studies; Professor of Epidemiology in Biostatistics and Epidemiology and in Pediatrics (Nutrition); and Senior Scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She is also a Senior Fellow in Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and the Institute on Aging. Kumanyika is also a long time supporter of the American Heart Association.

To kick off American Heart Month, Kumanyika receives the 2007 Red Dress Award from Woman’s Day -- the first magazine to adopt heart disease prevention in women as its cause -- during a gala reception hosted by "Entertainment Tonight"’s Mary Hart on the evening of February 1 in New York City. Other 2007 award winners include: Sharonne Hayes, MD, Mayo Clinic Women’s Heart Clinic and Susan Bennett, MD, George Washington University Cardiovascular Center. You can read more about the winners and the ongoing battle against heart disease in women in the February 13 issue of Woman’s Day.


PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals, all of which have received numerous national patient-care honors [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

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