Marion County Public Health Department Director Virginia Caine is this year’s Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year. BioCrossroads presented the award this morning at the Life Sciences Summit in Indianapolis. The organization calls Caine an "ardent voice for public health and access to medical care for the disadvantaged." She is a former president of the American Public Health association and also serves as an associate professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
BioCrossroads presents the Watanabe Award each year to an individual or organization it says has "made or enabled unique achievements in the development of Indiana’s life sciences and healthcare research, clinical, educational or economic advancement." The award is named after former BioCrossroads Chairman August Watanabe.
During her tenure as Marion County Public Health Department director, Caine established a countywide HIV/AIDS health care delivery system connecting hospitals, community health centers and social service agencies. She also helped establish the county’s first HIV dental clinic. She has also put a focus on infant mortality, especially in the African American community. As co-director of the Indianapolis Healthy Babies Initiative, BioCrossroads says Caine helped reduce a record-level black infant mortality rate to its lowest level in the city’s history.
Caine joins previous winners including former Eli Lilly and Co. Chief Executive Officer John Lechleiter, Cook Group founder Bill Cook and Indiana University chemistry professor and Marcadia Biotech co-founder Richard DiMarchi.