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Dr. Lennette Johnson Benjamin: A Tapestry of Excellence and Warmth
Dr. Lennette Johnson Benjamin's journey through the field of medical practice and research was marked by unyielding dedication, intellectual prowess, and a warmth that left an indelible mark on those who were fortunate enough to know her. Dr. Lennette Johnson Benjamin embarked on her extraordinary journey at Phillis Wheatley High School, Class of 1958. There, she blazed a trail of excellence, leaving an indelible mark. A luminary both on the courts and in the water, she secured her status as a state champion in tennis, swimming, and volleyball. Each victory resonated with her spirit - a harmonious blend of strength and grace - inspiring all who witnessed her feats. Her tapestry of achievements now adorns the annals of her beloved alma mater, forever a testament to her remarkable legacy.
Born to Selma Tate and Dr. Herbert Johnson, Lennette was raised in a nurturing environment that stoked her hunger for knowledge and compassion for others. This solid foundation guided her to Denver University, where in 1962, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. This early achievement underscored her innate brilliance in the field of scientific inquiry. Dr. Benjamin's illustrious career, marked by extensive contributions to medicine and research, was deeply intertwined with her unwavering love for family. Cherishing her children Fred and Niki, along with her godchildren Elizabeth and Michael Hines, she epitomized the role of a mother. She often expressed that they held a value to her beyond any material possession, underscoring the enduring significance of these familial bonds. This sentiment was echoed in her cherished friendship with Carol Jenkins, who is not only the godmother to her children Fred and Niki, but also stood as a guiding light in her life and a steadfast presence, akin to a sister in heart, reflecting the strength and unity that defined her connection with her children. As a mother, she exuded selflessness, dedicating herself to their growth and development.
Her nurturing spirit, boundless love, and wise guidance shaped their lives in profound ways. Dr. Benjamin's children found in her not only a mother but also a friend, a confidante, and an unwavering source of support. Beyond her roles in academia and research, she approached life with a passion for helping others. Her pursuit of medicine was not just a profession, but a calling driven by a desire to alleviate the suffering of those in need. Dr. Benjamin's compassion knew no bounds, and she touched the lives of countless patients with her expertise and empathy.
Her academic pursuits were not confined to hospitals and laboratories. From 1962 to 1966, she served as a Research Assistant in the Department of Biochemistry & Institute for Lipid Research at Baylor University College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. This early foray into research was a testament to her insatiable curiosity and her predestined métier. The pursuit of higher knowledge beckoned, and in 1970, Dr. Benjamin graduated with a degree in Medicine from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. This marked a pivotal moment in her journey, setting the stage for her illustrious career. During this time, she met and married Dr. Fred Benjamin, a fellow medical student, who sadly passed away in 1987. A member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Chapter while at Howard University, Dr. Benjamin eventually served as its president. Her contributions to both her sorority and her field reflect her enduring commitment to service. Post-graduation, she undertook her internship and residency in Medicine at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York from 1970 to 1974, followed by a transformative period as a Clinical and Research Fellow in Hematology at New York University Medical Center from 1974 to 1976. These years were foundational, shaping her into the esteemed hematologist and researcher she would become.
In 1976, Dr. Benjamin became a Research Scientist in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Division of Hematology at New York University School of Medicine. Her contributions here would become an integral part of her extensive body of work. Her tenure at The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, from 1977 to 1988, showcased her multifaceted expertise. Beginning as a Research Associate, she ascended the ranks, becoming an Adjunct Faculty member in Medical Biochemistry, and ultimately an Associate Physician at The Rockefeller University Hospital. Her contributions to the field of biological chemistry and addiction research were profound.
Beyond academia, Dr. Benjamin dedicated herself to public service. From 1979 to 1981, she served as the Consultant Associate Medical Director and Chief of the Evaluation Unit for Emergency Medical Services at NYC Health & Hospital Corp, New York City. Her commitment to patient care extended beyond the confines of research labs and lecture halls. In 1988, Dr. Benjamin joined the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. Over the years, she distinguished herself, progressing from Assistant Professor of Medicine to Associate Professor of Medicine, and finally achieving the esteemed title of Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Medicine in 2003. Dr. Benjamin, a renowned academic researcher affiliated with Yeshiva University, made significant contributions to the field of hematology, particularly in the areas of Acute Chest Syndrome and Sickle Cell Anemia. Her body of work includes co-authoring five publications, which have collectively received an impressive 489 citations, reflecting her impactful contributions to the scientific community. With an h-index over 45, Dr. Benjamin leaves behind a legacy of scholarly excellence in the realm of hematology research. At Montefiore Hospital Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, Dr. Benjamin took on the role of Clinical Director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center in 1988. Her impact on patient care in the realm of sickle cell disease was immeasurable. In order to highlight this achievement, significant milestones were featured in the December 2008 edition of the special The American Society of Hematology (ASH) anniversary brochure titled "50 Years in Hematology: Research That Revolutionized Patient Care." Notably, a study by Dr. Lennette J. Benjamin, published in 2000, underscored the benefits of a day hospital for pain management, enhancing quality of life and reducing hospitalizations. In the a spirit of inclusivity, Dr. Lennette Johnson Benjamin co-founded the E.E. Just Society, aimed at fostering connections and dialogue among doctors and healthcare professionals of color attending the annual meeting of The American Society of Hematology (ASH). This pivotal moment began in a room with shared snacks, where conversations evolved from introductions to discussions of professional pursuits. Over time, the group expanded, fostering meaningful connections and lasting dialogues. Dr. Benjamin's instrumental role in formalizing and naming the organization further solidified its presence in the field. Her dedication culminated in her presidency, exemplifying her leadership and unwavering commitment to the organization's mission. Dr. Benjamin's accomplishments were recognized with numerous honors, including membership in Alpha Sigma Chi, Mu Beta Kappa, and the receipt of the Fillmore Award for Post Graduate Training.
Her dedication to the field was further demonstrated by her pivotal roles in national committees, shaping the landscape of sickle cell research and advocacy. Her extensive involvement included:
• Chairperson, Pain Subcommittee, National Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers (1988) • Editorial Board Member, Viewpoints Publications of Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (1998)
• Medical and Research Advisory Committee Member, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (1998) • Chief Medical Officer, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (1998-2002)
• Scientific Advisory Committee Member, American Pain Foundation, Baltimore, MD (1999)
• Member, National Advisory Board, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America National Coordination and Evaluation Center, Sickle Cell Newborn Screening Projects MCHB/HRSA, Rockville, MD (2002)
• Chair, Data & Safety Monitoring Board for the Multicenter Study of Hydroxyurea (MSH) Patients’ Follow-Up, reappointed (2002-2007)
• Invited Working Group Leader, New Directions for Sickle Cell Therapy in the Genome Era, NHGRI, NHLBI, NIDDK, ORD, Fogarty International Center, and the Foundation for the NIH, NIH (2003)
• Member, QOL Survey Research Working Group in Sickle Cell Disease, DBDR, NHLBI, NIH (2003) • Working Group Member, Consultative Network for Sickle Cell Disease, NIH, NHLBI (2004)
• Working Group Member, Stakeholders Meeting, Sickle Cell Treatment Act Planning Meeting, SCDAA (2005)
• National Registry Committee Member, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (2006) • Advisory Committee Member – Quality of Life, American Institute of Research, DBDR, NHLBI, NIH (2006)
• Executive Committee Member, Steering Committee, Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Demonstration Program (SCDTDP)
• National Coordinator Center – Research Triangle Institute, HRSA, Rockville, Maryland (2007)
Dr. Benjamin's dedication to sickle cell disease was exemplified by her role as a board member emeritus for SCDAA and her significant contributions to the SCDAA Medical and Research Advisory Committee. In addition to her research, she was a tireless advocate and mentor, leaving an indelible mark on the global sickle cell community. Dr. Benjamin's influence extended to West Africa, Brazil, and beyond, raising crucial awareness about the disease. Her legacy is defined by her unwavering commitment to others. She provided invaluable warm advice and expert guidance, demonstrating a deep-seated concern for both patients and colleagues alike. In the realm of academia, Dr. Benjamin's legacy is etched in the annals of scientific literature. An eminent figure in the field of hematology, she was a prolific author with over 200 published works, cited over 10,000 times. Her publications, spanning diverse areas of sickle cell anemia and pain management, stand as a testament to her meticulous research and unwavering commitment to advancing medical knowledge. Yet, beyond the titles and accomplishments, Dr. Lennette Johnson Benjamin was a mother, a friend, and a source of inspiration. Her nurturing spirit, infectious laughter, and boundless love enriched their lives and those others around her. Dr. Lennette Johnson Benjamin was a force to be reckoned with, armed with a razor-sharp wit and an unapologetic honesty that left an indelible mark on everyone she encountered. Her vivacious personality and love for life created a magnetic aura that drew people to her. In her free time, Dr. Benjamin reveled, in the joys of music, sports, and the company of cherished family and friends. Additionally, she was an avid art collector and dedicated antique shopper, passions that added depth and richness to her vibrant life. She didn't just speak her mind; she gave it a megaphone. Dr. Lennette Johnson Benjamin's life was a tapestry woven with brilliance, compassion, and human connection. Her legacy inspires us to value excellence, empathy, and warmth as the true cornerstones of a life well-lived.
Frederic Johnson Benjamin
Love you mom
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