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Marisa M. Silveri, PhD, is this year’s winner of the prestigious Anne M. Cataldo Excellence in Mentoring Award. She was formally recognized as the 2019 recipient at a ceremony at McLean Hospital’s Pierce Hall in Belmont, Massachusetts, on October 4, 2019.
Silveri is the director of the Neurodevelopmental Laboratory on Addictions and Mental Health at McLean. Using preclinical and clinical models, she has been studying the neurobiology of brain development and consequences of substance misuse, particularly alcohol, for over two decades. Her current work uses non-invasive magnetic resonance techniques to examine brain structure, function, and neurochemistry, focusing on the consequences of substance use.
While she is a prolific and substantive contributor to the substance use research field, she is also an impactful contributor to the research careers of others.
McLean’s Chief Academic Officer Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH, gave the Pierce Hall audience some insight into how important mentoring is to Silveri. She described a record that includes the direct mentoring of 34 individuals, including 10 undergraduates, 2 graduate students, 3 medical/nursing students, 4 post-docs, 2 psychiatry residents, 3 clinical researchers/junior faculty, and numerous research assistants and interns. Over 95% of these grateful recipients of Silveri’s teaching have been women.
“We received many extraordinary letters in support of Dr. Silveri from former and current mentees,” said Greenfield. “It is inspiring to hear the profound effect that she has had on her mentees.”
Greenfield read aloud just a sampling of quotes from those who have been directly impacted by Silveri’s generous, enthusiastic, and compassionate approach to teaching.
“She is deeply committed to mentoring and training the next generation of neuroscience researchers as well as to recruiting and retaining women and diverse, underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in research.”
“Dr. Silveri has been my colleague, mentor, director, and friend. She is dedicated and has been clearly committed to my advancement and growth as a woman in science, and in the McLean and Harvard communities. She also is one of the few people in my life that I know who perseveres time after time through the challenges and upsets of the grant world and beyond.”
“More times than I can count, Dr. Silveri pulled me aside to ask what she could do to make my experience in her lab more educational and useful to my own training goals. And impressively, she always followed through when I came up with an idea. She encouraged and assisted me in pursuing independent research questions and learning new skills that were well beyond my basic job responsibilities.”
“Seeing Marisa at work—her interactions with others, her research ideas, her collaborative nature, and so on—gave me something to aspire for and affirmed my desire to conduct clinical research. I think we can easily lose touch with just how influential one individual can be, and I am so thankful that there are such dedicated mentors out there who truly want to help young people further their careers.”
“We were struck by her energy, enthusiasm, and intellectual curiosity. She made astute observations about the work we were doing and immediately started brainstorming ways to bring the research to life. We left the meeting feeling reinvigorated and excited about the rich research opportunities [at the program], and, more importantly, about the prospect of collaborating with someone as special as Marisa.”
“It’s hard not to feel hungrier, feel more enthusiastic about science in her presence. Research is not an easy career. It is exhausting. It is frustrating. From working with her and watching her I have seen how many times research disappoints you, but I have also seen how fun and important it can be.”
The Anne M. Cataldo Excellence in Mentoring Award was established at McLean to honor Dr. Cataldo’s many achievements and to celebrate her legacy as a gifted researcher and mentor. She was known and loved for her generous spirit and exceptional teaching ability, and the award is given annually to someone who emulates those characteristics.