Simmons College President to be honored for her cancer prevention advocacy at Silent Spring Institute’s annual gala

October 13, 2016
Helen Drinan, President of Simmons College

Boston, Mass. October 13, 2016 — Simmons College President Helen Drinan, who turned her breast cancer diagnosis into a “public journey,” is being honored this year with Silent Spring Institute's Rachel Carson Advocacy Award for her contributions to breast cancer prevention. The award will be presented to her at the Institute’s annual gala celebration on October 18th at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Mass.

In 2014, following her breast cancer diagnosis, Drinan chose to make her experience public, using blogs, emails, and media interviews to help reduce the lingering stigma around cancer and to encourage women and men to stay vigilant about their health.

“Now that I have firsthand cancer experience and understand the place of prevention in the order of research priorities, I am very motivated to do anything I can to prevent anyone else from having this dreaded experience,” she says.

The Rachel Carson Advocacy Award is presented annually to individuals who have helped to advance Silent Spring’s mission to identify the environmental links to breast cancer. “Whether it's investing in playing fields free of toxic chemicals for student athletes or supporting curriculum on hazardous chemicals in products, Helen Drinan has been a leader in creating safe and healthy learning environments for young women,” says Silent Spring's Executive Director and Senior Scientist Dr. Julia Brody.

Serving as President of Simmons College since 2008, Drinan has led the college to unprecedented fiscal stability while raising its academic standards and total enrollment. The only women’s college in Boston, Simmons remains true to its founding mission from more than a century ago, to prepare young women for sustainable careers.

The dinner program also will feature a keynote address by Dr. Margaret Kripke, former executive director and chief academic officer of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. A leading expert in the immunology of skin cancers, Dr. Kripke served multiple terms on the three-person President’s Cancer Panel, which oversees the development and implementation of the National Cancer Program. As a member of the panel, she co-authored the first authoritative science-based report on environmental factors and cancer, which alerted the nation to the massive opportunity to reduce the burden of cancer by reducing toxic exposures.

Dr. Brody will give an update on the organization's latest innovative research, while emphasizing the significant benefits of cancer prevention and why it must be a priority. About 247,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year. “Breast cancer is the most expensive cancer in this country, costing an estimated $16.5 billion every year,” says Dr. Brody. “That’s why we must invest in science that can avoid the terrible harm and costs that come with a breast cancer diagnosis by stopping people from getting the disease in the first place.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

About Simmons College:

Founded in 1899, Simmons is the only undergraduate women’s college in Boston, and maintains a history of visionary thinking and a focus on social responsibility. The college also offers world-class coeducational graduate programs in nursing and health sciences, life sciences and technology, liberal arts, library and information science, business management, and social work. Follow Simmons on Twitter at @SimmonsCollege and @SimmonsNews. 

About Silent Spring Institute:

Silent Spring Institute, located in Newton, Mass., is a leading scientific research organization dedicated to understanding the link between chemicals in our everyday environments and women's health, with a focus on breast cancer prevention. Founded in 1994, the institute is developing innovative technologies to accelerate the development of safer chemicals, while translating its science into policies that protect health. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @SilentSpringIns.