Halo Honors Chicago's 'Heroes of Medicine'

First Annual Halo Awards set for Oct. 25 in Chicago

Celebrating Chicago’s “Heroes of Medicine,” Halo, the first online partnering platform that connects scientists from academia and industry, is hosting a Grammy-style awards event on Thursday, Oct. 25, to honor three local scientists working to advance their research into treatments that help people live better lives.

Halo’s inaugural “Heroes of Medicine” will honor:

●      Teresa K. Woodruff Ph.D: The Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Northwestern University and a trailblazer in the study of fertility preservation in cancer patients. She pioneered a new interdisciplinary field of medical research she coined “oncofertility” that combines elements of oncology and fertility. In August 2018, she helped pass Illinois legislation requiring that health insurance companies cover egg freezing for cancer patients.

●      Andrea Domenighetti Ph.D: Research Scientist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab studying muscle tissue and stem cell dysfunction in patients with neurological conditions. He discovered that an already approved drug used to treat a form of blood cancer may cure muscle contractures in children with cerebral palsy.

●      Eugene B. Chang, MD: Professor of Medicine at University of Chicago globally-recognized for his research on the microbiome. Dr. Chang is an expert in "gut health" and its impact on a wide variety of diseases, from diabetes to depression. He also co-founded and serves as Chief Medical Officer of AVNovum, a biotech startup exploring the role microbial interactions play in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

“Congratulations to our inaugural ‘Heroes of Medicine’ who exemplify Halo’s mission to turn more research into treatments by bringing academia and industry closer together,” said Kevin Leland, CEO and Founder of Halo. “The Halo Awards were created to recognize those exceptional scientists who have transcended the traditional role of academic scientist by working to advance their discoveries from their lab and into patients.”

Halo helps scientists fund their labs by connecting them to biotech and pharmaceutical companies for research collaborations. These collaborations occur today on an ad hoc basis and are largely the result of chance encounters at conferences, established institutional relationships or geographic proximity. By matching investigators directly with industry-sponsored research projects, Halo aims to democratize access to corporate funding just as government funding has become increasingly scarce.

This funding shortage is especially severe for translational research, a necessary stage of drug development sometimes referred to as the “valley of death” because so many promising discoveries fail to advance into a clinical setting, a result of various “gaps” in knowledge, expertise and resources.

“In this era of unprecedented scientific advances and technology, we are only beginning to close the gap between discovery and clinical application,” Dr. Chang said. “There has never been more purpose and urgency to leverage this knowledge to find ways to cure disease and maintain health and well-being.”

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) is the first hospital in the nation to focus exclusively on translational research, where it has discovery scientists and clinicians working side-by-side to apply research in real time. 

“I am truly honored to receive this award from Halo,” said Dr. Domenighetti. “It is a recognition of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s translational approach to research, to sparking collaboration between clinicians and scientists with vastly different backgrounds and ideas in the name of better, faster recoveries for our patients.”

“The promise of basic science in medicine is that tomorrow’s patient will be treated better than today’s. This is my motto for the work my lab and I do and this has meant the transition of science from bench to bedside to babies,” Dr. Woodruff said. “I am delighted that biomedical research is being highlighted in this first ever award type and look forward to supporting the visionary Halo Awards for years to come.”.

The Halo Awards will be held on Thursday, Oct. 25, at MATTER, a health-tech incubator in the Merchandise Mart, and begins at 5 p.m. with a cocktail reception featuring Beyond Curie, a traveling art exhibition by Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, a neuroscientist-turned-designer and two-time TED speaker.

Programming begins at 6 p.m. with host Lisa Allen of 101.9 FM “The Mix” and will feature performances by Northwestern acapella group Purple Haze, drum ensemble Boomshaka and harpist Autumn Selover. An after-party at Sunda in River North will follow at 8 p.m. with medicinal-themed cocktails. Proceeds from the Halo Awards will be evenly distributed to the three award winners to help fund their ongoing research projects.

For more details on the Halo Awards, visit events.halocures.com/haloawards.


About Halo Cures

Originally founded as a crowdfunding platform for medical research, Halo is bringing academia and industry closer together to fund and advance promising research. To further its mission, Halo is creating the first online partnering platform for the biotech industry. For academic investigators, Halo will make it easy to identify companies looking to fund research within their area of expertise. For industry, Halo will match them with investigators that have the desired skills and track record to execute on specific research projects.

To learn more about Halo, visit halocures.com.

Media Contacts:

Jessica Moran, Edelman

(773) 233-1377


Kevin Leland, Halo

(312) 343-0572




Categories: Healthcare, Healthcare Technology

Tags: award event, awards, chicago, researchers