The Ottawa University Alumni Association
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Elizabeth Stoner Cowburn, M.D.
Field of Accomplishment: Medical and Pharmaceutical Research Elizabeth "Liz" Stoner received an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Ottawa University in 1970, and has gone on to do great things in medical research which are having an impact in health systems across the world.
Born in Romania, Liz fled with her parents to escape persecution and spent time in Europe and South America before coming to the United States in 1958. The family lived in New York for a time, then settled in Ottawa, Kansas. Her father, Dr. Adrian Stoner, taught communication skills in the Department of Languages for OU, and her mother, Clare, worked as a bookkeeper for the University for fifteen years. After graduating from OU, Liz pursued a Master's in chemistry from the State University of New York (SUNY), completing it in 1972. She went on to do research at Rockefeller University, but soon concluded that bench research was not to her liking. To broaden her horizons, she set her sites on a medical degree and earned her M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1977. Dr. Stoner went on to complete her medical training with a residency in Pediatrics at Einstein, and a fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology at Cornell University Medical College. Dr. Stoner is board-certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Endocrinology. She became an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Cornell, but was soon recruited to work for Merck, the innovative pharmaceutical giant. Among her early accomplishments at Merck was shepherding the testing and approval process for Proscar, Merck's breakthrough drug for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. She was praised by her employers for her "calm, objective, analytical and reassuring manner" which proved critical in helping her negotiate the clinical trials and FDA application process for the new medication. In recognition of her superb contributions to the development of Proscar, Dr. Stoner was presented with a Director's Award from Merck's Board of Directors. She generously donated the $10,000.00 stipend which accompanied the award to the Dr. Adrian Stoner Endowed Scholarship at Ottawa University, which honors her father.
Dr. Stoner has been quoted as saying: "My career at Merck has allowed me to pursue clinical investigations in areas of great interest to me. At the same time, I am being exposed to the practice of medicine all around the world. The public health impact of the therapies developed by Merck and other pharmaceutical companies is truly enormous. I'm living in the best of all possible worlds for me." Today Dr. Stoner is senior vice president for clinical development at Merck. As head of the BCD-Clinical Development organization, Dr. Stoner oversees more than 1900 employees working in 58 countries. Dr. Stoner's academic achievements include the authorship of more than 70 scientific articles which have been published in peer reviewed journals. Currently, she is the President-elect of Albert Einstein College of Medicine Alumni Board of Governors. She served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on "Patient Care Costs" and is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Dr. Stoner is married to Dr. David Cowburn, who heads the New York Center for Structural Biology, a consortium of biomedical research institutions. They have two grown children - a son Adam, and a daughter Leah. For her uncommon adaptability in the pursuit of excellence, her contributions to medical and pharmaceutical research and her continuing devotion to Ottawa University, Dr. Liz Stoner - Elizabeth Stoner Cowburn - is awarded the OUAA's prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award.
Outstanding Achievement Award
This new award, established in 2005, is designed to recognize those who have made their mark
and made a difference in their chosen field of endeavor. Recipients will, over time, constitute
OU's "hall of fame" and their life stories will help demonstrate what one can do with an OU
education. The OUAA Board notes that the large number of awards being presented this first
year should not be interpreted as diluting the importance of the recognition. With over 18,000
living alumni, the Board wanted this inaugural class to help demonstrate the scope and intent of
the award. The number of awards given annually is expected to decrease in coming years.
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