Happy St. Patrick’s Day from The Alpha- 1 Foundation

On this St. Patrick’s Day, we are lucky and grateful for the outstanding and unwavering commitment of the Alpha-1 community. Over 250 people joined together on Saturday, March 10th for the Annual Celtic Connection in Boston, Massachusetts. This outstanding Building Friends for a Cure (BFC) community fundraiser honoring Irish heritage raised over $160,000 this year to support research and related programs to help fund a cure for Alpha-1.

Celtic Connection has become the largest BFC event through the outstanding support of sponsors and the dedication and motivation of the longstanding committee including Julie Berry, Dan Coffin, Kathi Coffin, Bob Healy, Peggy Iverson, Siobhan Lestina, Richard Lovrich, Karen Pittsley, Rachel Spunger, Fred Walsh, and Rick White. Thank you for your hard work and commitment leading up to the event and in executing a successful fundraising event. Events, like Celtic Connection, enable members of the Alpha-1 community to get involved and be empowered to make a difference. Each year the event has grown larger, and it is truly because of the determination of the committee.

Thank you to the generous sponsors that made the evening possible: AlphaNet, Beam Therapeutics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Lung Center, Ruth & Gordon E. Cadwgan, CReM of Boston University and Boston Medical Center, CSL Behring, Ergonomics Group Inc (EGI), Joan & Oliver Garry, Grifols, Reidy Family, Seabreeze Floral Design, Target Tack LLC, University of Massachusetts, Vertex and WEI.

Guests were entertained by Liam Harney and his talented youth dancers from the local Irish dance studio, Harney’s Academy of Irish Dance located in Walpole, Massachusetts. The performers impressed guests with their perfect footwork, flawless choreography, and ornate costumes. Live Irish music was enjoyed by all from “Hogan’s Goat” providing a festive atmosphere and a traditional Irish dinner corned beef and cabbage made it a quintessential St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The evening kicked off with a silent auction filled with items. Everything in the auction sold thanks to the bidders online and at the event.

The highlight of the evening was the 2024 Shillelagh award was presented to Dr. Monica Goldklang from Columbia University for her outstanding commitment to the Alpha-1 community.

The Shillelagh is a traditional Celtic weapon associated with Ireland, and the award symbolizes the battle that Alpha-1 doctors, researchers, and leadership wage against Alpha-1. Alpha and patient Dan Grimm presented the award on behalf of the Alpha-1 Community. Dan first met Dr. Goldklang when he participated in a clinical trial. Dr. Goldklang has been caring for Alpha patients for over six years and has been the Clinical Resource Center (CRC) Director at Columbia University since 2022. She has successfully built a practice with over 125 Alpha patients.

“Dr. Goldklang is not only a remarkable clinician, but she is an outstanding researcher,” said Dan Grimm. In 2014, she first obtained funding for her Alpha-1 funding examining the importance of destructive proteases in Alpha-1 lung disease and discovered that Alpha-1 protein is necessary to inhibit a novel non-neutrophil protein present during viral infections and that this protein may be important during exacerbations and lung decline in patients. Her more recent funding has focused on innovative imaging technology that will investigators to determine early lung decline and improve prognosis in the disease. Dr. Goldklang is the lead investigator on over five clinical trials and serves as a co-investigator on the Alpha-1 Biomarker Consortium (A1BC) and has played a critical role in recruitment, achieving enrollment in record time of 270 alpha patients who will be followed over the next three years with the hopes of identifying a novel biomarker in the disease.

“I am deeply humbled to be acknowledged with this incredible award. In science and medicine, most stories start with a great mentor, and mine is one of them. When I arrived at Columbia in 2008, I was in search of mentor, and through a series of fortunate events I found Dr. Jeanine D’Armiento. I owe an incredible thanks of her for her advocacy in my career path and more her friendship along the way. Working with alpha-1 patients and their families is one of the most rewarding parts of my job, whether it be in clinic or through clinical trials. Thank you so much for this honor, and to the patients who fuel the work of all the alpha-1 physicians and researchers throughout this wonderful community,” exclaimed Dr. Monica Goldklang.

Dr. Goldklang posed for a picture with past recipients in attendance proudly holding up the Shillelagh including Dr. Jeanine M. D’Armiento, Dr. Andrew Wilson and Dr. Edwin K. “Ed” Silverman.

Past Shillelagh Award Recipients include:

2023- James K. Stoller, MD MS (Cleveland Clinic)

2021& 2022- COVID-19 Frontline Workers

2020- Virginia Clark, MD (University of Florida)

2019- Charlie Strange, MD (Medical University of South Carolina)

2018- Jeanine M. D’Armiento, MD, PhD (Columbia University Medical Center)

2017- AlphaNet, Inc.

2016- Chris Mueller, PhD and Scott E. Kopec, MD (University of Massachusetts Medical School)

2015- Bartolome R. Celli, MD (Harvard Medical School)

John & Fred Walsh

2014- Gerard “ Gerry M. Turino, MD (St. Luke’s – Roosevelt Hospital Center)

Andrew Wilson, MD (Boston University School of Medicine)

2013- Robert A. Sandhaus, MD, PhD, (Medical Director, AlphaNet)

Edwin K. “Ed” Silverman, MD, PHD (Harvard Medical School)

2012- Noel  G. “Gerry” McElvaney, MD, PHD ( Royal College of Surgeons Ireland)

2011- Gordon L. Snider, MD (Boston University School of Medicine)

2010- Terrence R. Flotte (University of Massachusetts School of Medicine)

Darrell N. Kotton, MD (Boston University School of Medicine

To make a donation in honor of Dr. Goldklang, past recipients of the Shillelagh award or the event committee, please click here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *