Staff honored for outstanding contributions to Stanford's research mission

The awards ceremony honoring the 2013 Marsh O'Neill Award winners will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. today at the Faculty Club. Friends and colleagues of the awardees are welcome to attend.

Two staff members at Spectrum, Stanford's home for clinical and translational research, will receive 2013 Marsh O'Neill Awards today for their outstanding support of the university's research mission.

This year's honorees are Martha Kessler, executive director of finance for Spectrum, and director of finance and administration for the Department of Health Research and Policy at Stanford School of Medicine; and Chris Webb, executive director of administration for Spectrum.

L.A. CiceroMartha Kessler

Martha Kessler

Spectrum, an independent center at Stanford founded in 2008, supports health-related research activities across the university. Its goal is to accelerate and enhance medical research, from basic discovery to improved patient care.

Kessler arrived at Stanford in 1999, when she became the educational and financial coordinator for the Stanford Brain Research Center. She joined the Department of Health Research and Policy in 2002, and joined Spectrum in 2008.

Webb came to Stanford in 1999, when he became senior scientist for the Genome Technology Center. One year later, he became the center's associate director. He served as institutional proposal development manager for the Medical School's Office of the Dean from 2004 to 2008. He also joined Spectrum in 2008.

In a letter nominating Kessler and Webb for the 2013 Marsh O'Neill Award, faculty and staff praised them for shepherding the development of many major grant proposals to advance the mission of the School of Medicine, the Department of Health Research and Policy, and Spectrum.

The letter said Kessler and Webb's management of the most recent $50 million proposal for a new Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) resulted in a perfect score for Stanford – giving the proposal top ranking among the 30 applications from leading universities and other academic medical centers across the country.

L.A. CiceroChris Webb

Chris Webb

Branimir I. Sikic, professor of medicine (oncology) and co-director of Spectrum, praised Webb and Kessler in a nomination letter, saying they had been the administrative and financial leaders of the program from its inception, and were instrumental in Stanford earning a perfect score for its five-year application for continued NIH funding.

"Chris and Martha deserve a lion's share of the credit for the success of Spectrum, an achievement that has brought Stanford to the very summit of clinical and translational research among university medical centers," Sikic said.

Harry Greenberg, senior associate dean for research at the Medical School and director of Spectrum, also commended Webb and Kessler, saying it had been an honor to have "two such able and dedicated colleagues" available to help him manage and improve Spectrum.

"Virtually all of our success can be related either directly or indirectly back to these two terrific individuals," said Greenberg, who also is a professor of medicine (gastroenterology and hepatology) and of microbiology and immunology.

"Although they exemplify the traditional values of hard work, high integrity and complete reliability, perhaps their most unique skills are their ability, together, to work with both faculty and staff in a collegial way that seems to always result in progress and accomplishment of goals," Greenberg said.

"Receiving and maintaining an NIH-supported Clinical and Translational Science Award is a badge of honor for any research-intensive biomedical research institution. Chris Webb and Martha Kessler have played the critical role in making this possible and in bringing this substantial honor and resource to Stanford."

The award presentation – which includes a check for $5,000 for each winner – will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. today at the Faculty Club. Anyone who knows either of the winners and would like to congratulate them is welcome to attend.

Ann Arvin, vice provost and dean of research, will convene the reception, introduce the award and Marsh O'Neill, and then turn the microphone over to Greenberg.

The Dean of Research office established the Marsh O'Neill Award in 1990, inspired by the extraordinary career of Marshall D. O'Neill, its first recipient. O'Neill retired that same year after nearly four decades as associate director of the W. W. Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory.