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October 2019 Lead

Monday, October 28, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Needa Virani
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October 2019
GWIS LEAD is a GWIS periodical profiling women leaders in science.  Subscribe
Remembering Dr. Ariel Hollinshead, Mother of Immunotherapy
This week we remember long-time GWIS member, Dr. Ariel Hollinshead, who passed away last month in Medford, New Jersey at the age of 90.
Dr. Hollinshead’s parents taught her to love each flower, tree, plant, and living creature. When a bird crashed against the window of her childhood home, she cuddled it in her hands and mended its broken leg with the aid of a popsicle stick and bandage, feeding it drops of water or milk and keeping it in a basket while she nursed it back to health. Her efforts were rewarded when she released the bird a week or so later and saw it hopping about the yard that afternoon and perched in a tree with a worm in its beak the next morning.

Dr. Hollinshead also loved to read books while sitting in her favorite willow tree, and one of the first experiences that drove her toward a life in science occurred at the age of ten or eleven when her mother brought home Microbe Hunters by Paul De Kruif.

At the tender age of 12, the aspiring scientist taught piano to a young neighbor who had been diagnosed with leukemia. When he died, the loss further developed her lifelong interest in helping others through scientific research.

Around that time, Dr. Hollinshead also broke her leg while ice skating a compound spiral fracture of her left tibia. As the doctors had to break and reset her leg three times, Dr. Hollinshead was able to learn much about the inner workings of hospitals. She made friends with the nurses and doctors and, while traveling the hospital in her wheelchair, got to see the x-ray and testing labs, pathology photos, newborn babies, and much else. These events sparked an undying interest in the medical sciences and led her to work, when she was only 15 years old, in both a specimen preparation lab evaluating tissues for pathology after surgery, and a hematology lab.
"Ariel and I worked on many GWIS things over more than twenty years. I guess it began when she was National President, 1985-86, and I was Assistant Secretary (de facto Secretary, if truth be told) so we had considerable correspondence on business matters. She taught me a lot about being an effective secretary and fulfilling expectations and that sort of thing! I was subsequently Secretary for five years, during which she was Past President and on the BoD, so we continued to work together. She stepped in as President-Elect (without an actual election, to fill a vacancy) after I had ended my terms as Secretary and as Treasurer, but I was still Archivist and general gadfly, so we continued to work closely.

I want point out that during most of those years she submitted detailed reports as Washington, DC Liaison to Grand Chapter in which she told us about meetings she had attended, contacts she had made, events at which she had spoken, always promoting us and speaking for us and bringing us as much prominence and voice as she possibly could. To put it differently, she was not shy about 'tooting our horn' in all possible venues and circumstances and occasions, took pride in her ability to do so, and made a point of telling us all about it.

We became good friends through all this. I visited her at home more than once, staying overnight on one occasion. I remember she served a cold seafood salad and farfalle (pasta bow ties), a combination it had never occurred to me to have! She also, quite casually at a GWIS picnic, gave me a recipe that has been a family standby of ours ever since, for Jell-O Strawberry Pie. I love thinking of her when we have it. Of course I met Monty a couple of times, and enjoyed good conversation with him."

-Dr. Helen Haller,
GWIS Archivist
Please consider sharing your own stories of Dr. Hollinshead
with the GWIS community here.
Dr. Hollinshead attended Swarthmore College and The Ohio University for her undergraduate education. She received her M.A. in 1955 and her Ph.D. in 1957 in pharmacology from the George Washington University Medical Center, where she remained a faculty member (1958-1990). In 1977, Dr. Hollinshead was also awarded the honorary D.Sc. degree from The Ohio State University.

She married, raised two sons, and pioneered scientific research as an oncologist, an educator, and a cancer researcher. Before family leave and two-income families were accepted as the norm, Dr. Hollinshead managed to weave her career and family life together.
Excerpts from an interview by Dr. Hollinshead's granddaughter, Isabella Hyun, for a school project in 2010

Isabella: What do you think makes a good scientist?
Dr. H: The enjoyment of exploring the unknown. Not being afraid to ask good questions. Not being afraid of risk taking, but not too extreme. Not being afraid of change. Unlike a lot of aspiring scientists, do not be bogged down by need for continuity or to join the wagon train of popular pursuits because that's where the money is. Do not be afraid to be ahead of your time, even if it means that people do not believe you. When they catch up and "reinvent the wheel", if they are honest, they will recognize and appreciate your work. If you are a fine theoretical or practical scientist and you know well the work you are doing, be fearless to make big leaps to attain solid discoveries,

Isabella: What would you recommend to a student interested in becoming a scientist?
Dr. H: Enjoy every type of science... like how best to throw a curve ball, why certain bats are better than others, and the best way for your own particular body to hold and swing the bat, why exercise is important before you try a ballet step, and the fastest way to peel an orange or cut an apple, Science dominates our modern lives... computers, cell phones, automation in cars and appliances, cyberspace, and on and on. It will "keep you sharp" no matter what field you pursue in the future. In short, it is really "cool" to be up to date in such a happy field.
Dr. Hollinshead preparing to go on a boat ride with colleagues in June of 1998; front row: Elaina Bleifield (in blue), Dee McManus (in black, behind), Mary Anderson (in red), Ariel Hollinshead; to their right a bit behind, Nell Mondy (profile, in teal jacket), Kit Barker (behind), Doris Brown (in white), Florence Greville (wearing navy jacket), Virginia Carson (in blue), and Sheri Cole (with brown coat over arm).
Researching viral diseases, Dr. Hollinshead's first major discovery was for effective treatment of viral disease with the use of purine, pyrimidine, and sulfur-containing analogues, one of which was used to attenuate virulent polioviruses. She later discovered the first non-virion antigen to block virus-induced animal tumors. In this field, Dr. Hollinshead's pioneering achievements have included the identification of a multitude of antiviral drugs and vaccines, and the discovery of resistance to antiviral drugs.

In cancer research, her first discovery for effective cancer immunotherapy was the separation and identification of active peptides from cell membranes. Dr. Hollinshead provided the first proof of their efficacy in tumor prevention in animals and humans. Clinical trials were conducted with individual tumor-related peptides selected for nineteen forms of human cancer. She discovered that little pieces of these active proteins (called epitopes) were useful for monitoring not only tumor progression but also the oncogene products for even better polyvalent therapies in the future.

Through her research, Dr. Hollinshead's pioneering achievements have included the purification, development, and testing of various cancer gene products including peptides, and the identification of peptides that have the ability to induce long-lasting cell-mediated immunity. She pioneered the field of proteomics, developed numerous proteomics technologies, and developed and managed the clinical testing and monitoring of epitope activity during seventeen clinical trials.

With Dr. T.H.M. Stewart, Dr. Hollinshead established the first identification of induced dormancy in human lung cancers. Cancer patients in the USA and Canada receiving her vaccines were shown to survive longer than twelve years free of lung cancer.
"I only met Ariel a few times at the GWIS national meetings, but wow, what an impact she had on my memory. I remember her stepping into the President-Elect role for us when we had an officer to resign unexpectedly – a big commitment on her part. And, I remember her diffusing a contentious and negatively emotional moment in our business meeting one year by breaking into song (a song she had written for the meeting!). It was perfect to break the tension and bring us all back to solid ground. She also arranged for press coverage of our National meeting in Washington, DC.

She was an incredible, remarkable leader for GWIS."

-Dr. Jennifer Ingram,
Assistant Professor,
Duke University
Over the years, Dr. Hollinshead's honors and accomplishments included over 280 published articles on active immunotherapy and immuno-chemotherapy of cancer and viral diseases, earning her the title “Mother of Immunotherapy". During her early years, what Dr. Hollinshead remembered as "braving through the 50s, 60s and 70s," there were some special moments that she recalled with great fondness. The most memorable was being chosen by the Joint Board of American Medical Colleges as the 1976 USA Bicentennial Medical Woman of the Year.

That same year she was honored and thrilled to be named the U.S. Medical Woman of the Year, having been chosen from among 250 nominees, by the Marion Spencer Fay National Board from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, the only women's medical college in the U.S. for quite a long time. This national award is given annually to a woman physician and/or scientist who has made an exceptionally significant contribution to health care as a practitioner, medical educator, administrator, and/or research scientist who exhibits significant future potential.

In 1980, Dr. Hollinshead was honored at an elaborate ceremony in Europe where she was decorated with The Star of Europe, the highest honor given by the European conclave to American scientists ranking second only to the Nobel in prestige. Dr. Hollinshead was chosen to receive the award by three Ministers of Health from Germany, Italy, and England.

In 1985 and 1996, she received the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. This prestigious award is to recognize "biomedical scientists whose seminal research accomplishments have established them as leaders in biomedicine, and who have made significant contributions to the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine." In 1996, from this same group, she also received the Distinguished Scientist Emeritus Award for an "Outstanding Career in Teaching and Research in Medicine." More recently, Dr. Hollinshead was awarded the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from George Washington University.
Dr. Hollinshead speaking in June 1991; on left, Katherine A. Baum, National President 1988-89; on right Elizabeth M. O'Hern, National Secretary 1974-77 and Historian.
Dr. Hollinshead joined GWIS in 1961 and was a part of our organization for almost 60 years. From 1968 – 1969, she served as President of the Omicron (now National Capital) chapter.

She was awarded Honorary Membership in 1977 for Excellence in Scientific Research.

Her support of GWIS over the years was nothing short of amazing. In the words of Dr. Helen Haller, current GWIS archivist, Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, was more active, more supportive, more enthusiastic in support of our organization and activities than Ariel was in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s… For years (possibly decades) she was Washington, DC Liaison to National Council, attending events in DC as the GWIS representative, speaking up for us and our mission, reporting back to us (at length) on the achievements and contacts she had made, offering suggestions, and never letting things rest or slide if she could help it.

From 1983 – 1986, Dr. Hollinshead held the National offices of Vice President, President-Elect, and President. While serving as president, she organized the hugely successful 65th anniversary celebration held in Philadelphia, inviting and ultimately welcoming seventeen National Past Presidents, six Honorary Members, and three Meritorious Service Awardees. Following her time as President, Dr. Hollinshead sat on the GWIS Board of Directors for five years. When a vacancy opened up in the President Elect position in the 2007/2008 year, she stepped up to fill the position but did not rise to the position as President.

Dr. Hollinshead was given the Meritorious Service Award in 2008 for her contributions to GWIS.
Dr. Hollinshead led a panel discussion, "Where are the Women Scientists?"at the 70th GWIS National Meeting held in Washington DC in June 1991. Pictured here are the panelists: (from left to right) Dr. Toby Horn, Thomas Jefferson H. S. for Science and Technology; Dr. Nadine Shanler, Trenton State College; Dr. Linda Pickle, National Center for Health Statistics; Hon. Margaret Heckler, Former Director of the U.S. DHHS; and Dr. Ariel Hollinshead.
This tribute is based on a profile of Dr. Hollinshead published in the Fall 2010 issue of the SDE GWIS Bulletin contributed by Drs. Mary Williams and JoAnn Schrass. Additional details and updates were added by copy editor, Dr. Rozzy Finn.

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