Dr Despina Siolas, MD/PhD of Bayside and Mattituck, New York was honored at the 2013 Hermes Expo Dinner on April 13. Stella Kokolis,,President of the Federation of Hellenic American Educators and Vasiliki Filiotis, President of Prometheus Greek Teachers Association presented her with the Aien AristeveinAward. “Ever To Excel” is a phrase delivered from the sixth book of Homer‘s Iliad (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ever_to_Excel), in which it is used in a speech Glaucus delivers to Diomedes.
The Honor states, “This, the “Aien Aristevein” Award is bestowed upon Dr. Despina Siolas for your high achievements in your life and for your ability to become a model to others and ensure them that the Hellenic cultural heritage and language are the cornerstones of your professional success. The Greek-American teachers of the Greek schools that you have attended and Everyone in the Greek-American community are standing today in front of you with pride and honor.”
Siolas expressed her sincere appreciation saying, “Thank you for this unique honor. I am a fourth generation Greek American from Tripolis, Arcadia, Chios, Limnos and Asia Minor.I pledge to uphold the high purposes of Hellenism. I will be true to the principles for which it stands. I will be loyal to my community and country and will maintain and encourage high standards of character, service and leadership.”
She is currently in a Medical Oncology fellowship at New York University Langone Medical Center. Siolas completed a Research Track/Internal Medicine residency at the same center. Her mentor is Dr. Rany Condos, Associate Professor, NYU Department of Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Division. Siolas was awarded the prestigious E-Trade Financial scholarship of the Hellenic Medical Society of New York, in 2010 for her performance in medical school at Stony Brook University.
In addition to her MD degree, she is the recipient of a Doctor of Philosophy in Genetics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook for studies she conducted in the lab of Dr. Greg Hannon, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The title of her dissertation is, RNA Barcode Screens as a Tool for Discovering Gene Function. This research showed that small RNA hairpins could be used for aiding cancer studies.
Siolas was awarded her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from St. John’s University with summa cum laude honors in 2001. She was the first student in the history of St. John’s University to be accepted in the Medical Scientist Training Program of Stony Brook University. Her mentor at St. John’s University was Rev. Robert Stephanopoulos, Ph.D., former Dean of the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Greek Archdiocese of America and adjunct faculty of Theology at St. John’s University. St. John’s University former Dean Salvatore Spizziri, a descendent of Bari, Southern Italy (where the bones of St. Nicholas of Myra are interned) encouraged her to pursue a medical career. His guidance and encouragement for her entire undergraduate years shaped her future medical career.
Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny, President of Stony Brook University, in the 2005-2006 issue of the Graduate Student Achievements (GSA), congratulated Siolas and her thesis adviser Dr. Hannon for their federally funded Breast Cancer Research Program Idea Award. This award of $500,000 was the largest given to a graduate student in 2006. She has presented papers at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meetings and was a student member of the Physician Council for Long Range Planning of the American Medical Association (AMA). Siolas is currently a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists and plans on pursuing pancreatic cancer research for the remainder of her fellowship.