WebMD Announces Health Heroes

Kathy Bates, Nobel Laureate James Allison, and Rufus Wainwright Among the Recipients to be Recognized for their Work on Cancer

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New York, New York, November 1, 2018 -- WebMD today announced the winners of this year’s Health Hero Awards, focusing on the accomplishments and contributions of researchers, health care professionals, and advocates who are helping to transform the impact of cancer.

In its 12th year, the awards honor individuals who are working to change the health care landscape, confronting health challenges and giving back to improve the lives of others. This year's winners are actor Kathy Bates; James Allison, PhD; singer Rufus Wainwright; Karen M. Winkfield, MD, PhD; Elizabeth Marion Jaffee, MD;  Lillie Shockney, RN, MAS; and Margaret I. Cuomo, MD.

WebMD's editorial team, composed of board-certified health care professionals and award-winning journalists, selects the recipients. Their work will be celebrated and honored at an awards ceremony for special invited guests on January 15, 2019, in New York City. Advocate, filmmaker, and cancer survivor Sandra Lee and 20/20 co-anchor, ABC News correspondent, and cancer survivor Amy Robach will co-host. Current confirmed presenters include researcher Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD; American Society of Clinical Oncology CEO Clifford Hudis, MD; and journalist and author Joan Lunden.

WebMD has made a contribution to Stand Up To Cancer on behalf of the award recipients, and the winners will be featured in a special edition of the January/February 2019 issue of WebMD Magazine.

 The WebMD Health Heroes are:

Game Changer

Kathy Bates, actor and active spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network

Academy Award winner, Tony nominee, and Emmy Award-winning actor and director Kathy Bates is an ovarian and breast cancer survivor who also developed lymphedema, a buildup of fluid in soft tissue, following surgery for a double mastectomy. She is a national spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN), which funds research into lymphedema and lymphatic diseases, provides scholarships for lymphedema therapists, sponsors an international patient registry, and provides patient education.

Earlier this year, she sponsored a LE&RN walk in New York City to raise awareness of the condition and help reduce stigma. She also led advocates in a Capitol Hill Lobby Day to petition for congressional support for lymphedema research funding, followed by another walk in Washington, D.C., to raise awareness. Ms. Bates has received a Women Making History Award by the National Women’s History Museum, an organization focused on building a Women’s Museum on the National Mall in Washington.

Lifetime Achievement

James P. Allison, PhD, 2018 Nobel laureate and pioneer in cancer immunotherapy

Dr. James Allison, chair of the Department of Immunology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, has spent his career studying the regulation of T-cell responses and developing strategies for cancer immunotherapy. His discoveries led him to pioneer immune checkpoint blockade as a cancer treatment. Earlier this year, he was awarded, along with co-recipient Tasuku Honjo, the 2018 Nobel Prize for his breakthrough discovery that blocks a mechanism that enables cancer cells to evade the body’s immune system. Hailed by the Nobel committee as a landmark in the fight against cancer, the discovery is being recognized as revolutionizing cancer treatment and fundamentally changing how cancer can be managed.

Dr. Allison continues to conduct basic research as well as translational studies of immunotherapies and combination therapies to uncover factors that influence response and resistance to checkpoint blockades. His mother and two uncles died of cancer.


Rufus Wainwright, singer and composer who created a foundation after his mother died of cancer

Rufus Wainwright is an American-Canadian singer, songwriter, and composer of pop and opera. His latest opera, Hadrian, recently premiered in Toronto. His mother, the folk singer Kate McGarrigle, was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer in 2006 and died in 2010. Mr. Wainwright and his sister, Martha, founded the Kate McGarrigle Foundation in 2016 to raise money in the fight against sarcoma, the rare and underfunded cancer that took his mother's life. Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You: A Concert for Kate McGarrigle is a documentary film that captures the highlights of a 2011 tribute concert in New York City. In 2018, the Kate McGarrigle Foundation joined forces with Stand Up To Cancer, forming the SU2C Kate McGarrigle Fund, a new collaborative program to provide music therapy resources to cancer patients with a passion for music, as well as much needed funds for sarcoma research.


Karen M. Winkfield, MD, PhD, thought leader on racial disparities in cancer outcomes

Dr. Karen M. Winkfield is a radiation oncologist and director of the Office of Cancer Health Equity at Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is past chair of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Health Disparities Committee, and she focuses her research on understanding and addressing sociocultural barriers that contribute to disparities in cancer outcomes. The goal of her research is to develop platforms for discussion that enable accurate and timely dispersal of health information to improve health literacy among underserved communities and encourage policymakers to invest in initiatives designed to address inequalities in the health care delivery system. Dr. Winkfield is also co-founder and director of the Association of Black Radiation Oncologists.


Elizabeth "Liz" Marion Jaffee, MD, researcher who uses novel vaccines to overcome immune tolerance

Dr. Elizabeth "Liz" Marion Jaffee is associate director at Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and deputy director of The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. She is an international leader in the development of immune-based therapies for pancreatic and breast cancers. She holds six vaccine patents. Her research is focused on developing new vaccines that overcome immune tolerance to cancers and slowing the rate at which the disease spreads to other organs.


Lillie Shockney, RN, MAS, one of the leading cancer nurses in the U.S.

Lillie Shockney is administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Breast Center and the director of Johns Hopkins Cancer Survivorship Programs. She is a two-time breast cancer survivor, oncology registered nurse, and nurse navigator. She is nationally and internationally known for her work in patient advocacy and a multidisciplinary approach to patient-centered oncology care, emphasizing the importance of beginning survivorship care at the moment of diagnosis. Professor Shockney is the co-founder and program director of the Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators, and is the co-developer of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Work Stride Managing Cancer at Work, an employee benefit for businesses and corporations nationally. She is also co-founder and vice president of a national nonprofit organization called Mothers Supporting Daughters with Breast Cancer, which has served tens of thousands of families nationally and internationally since its founding in 1995.


Margaret I. Cuomo, MD, radiologist, author, and cancer prevention advocate

Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo is a board-certified radiologist, philanthropist, advocate, and author on health and medicine, focused on topics related to cancer prevention. She is the author of A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New Cure and the Real Promise of Prevention (2012), where she explores needed improvements in screening, diagnosis, patient education, and coordination among governments, academic researchers, and pharmaceutical companies. In 2016, PBS aired her one-hour documentary version of A World Without Cancer, featuring documentarian Ken Burns and singer/songwriter Valerie Simpson. 

Dr. Cuomo sits on the leadership council for True Health Initiative, a global movement focused on a healthy “lifestyle as medicine.” In 2018, she joined the board of, a global research and development organization that focuses on the prevention of BRCA-related and other inherited cancers. Until 2017, she served as a board member of, and she led Capitol Hill conferences for,, focusing on cancer risk reduction and prevention.

"This year’s Health Hero awards recipients are a diverse and inspiring group of individuals that share a powerful commitment to improving the lives of people who are living with cancer, cancer survivors, and the people who love them,” said Kristy Hammam, editor in chief and senior vice president of WebMD. “We are proud to honor their work to meet the complex challenges of cancer both clinically and societally and in the day-to-day of people’s lives.”

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