Know the Signs, Fight for Victory

The Marfan Foundation to Honor Scientist Christine Gurnett, MD, PhD, and Marfan Clinic Nurses and Staff at Heartworks St. Louis Gala on March 4

Christina Gurnett, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, is the recipient of The Marfan Foundation’s 2017 Distinguished Research Award at the Foundation’s Heartworks St. Louis gala on March 4. In addition, the Foundation will honor Dana Gima, BSN, RN, and Barb Stehman, BSN, RN, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, with the Hero with a Heart Award and Cheryl Marshall, Washington University School of Medicine, with the Spirit of Service Award.

Centene Corporation, a long-time supporter of The Marfan Foundation, is the presenting sponsor of this year’s Heartworks St. Louis.

Heartworks St. Louis, which will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, is a benefit for The Marfan Foundation. The Foundation conducts public and medical awareness and educational programs; provides patient support; and facilitates research to create a brighter future for people living with Marfan syndrome and related disorders. It is hosted each year by Alan and Rebecca Braverman.  Dr. Braverman is the Alumni Endowed Professor in Cardiovascular Diseases and Director of the Marfan Syndrome Clinic at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and a member of the Foundation’s Professional Advisory Board and Board of Directors. Dr. Doug and Sharon Aach are Champions of the gala and vital partners.

“I am so proud to present awards this year to Dr. Christine Gurnett, a leading researcher, Dana Gima and Barb Stehman, two outstanding patient-focused nurses, and Cheryl Marshall, who plays an indispensable role in our Marfan Clinic,” said Dr. Braverman. “I am so grateful to the St. Louis and the Metro East community and our gala committee which, year after year, supports this event. Awareness of Marfan syndrome and related disorders is critical and, through Heartworks St. Louis, we have successfully kept these life-threatening conditions top-of-mind in our region.”

Dr. Gurnett is a renowned clinician and researcher, whose laboratory is interested in discovering the genetic basis of musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. Dr. Gurnett’s research focuses on gene discovery for limb malformations and scoliosis, which relates to heritable aneurysm syndromes, including Marfan and related disorders. 

Ms. Gima and Ms. Stehman are the nurse coordinators for the Marfan Syndrome and Related Disorders Clinic at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. They are tireless advocates for patients and families with genetic aneurysm disorders and all forms of cardiovascular disease.  Dana and Barb have provided support and expertise to The Marfan Foundation’s Annual Family Conference in St. Louis, and participate at Foundation Conferences around the country. 

Ms. Marshall willingly provides her time, energy, and expertise in support of the Marfan Syndrome Clinic and the Center’s participation in patient care, clinical research, and advocacy events.  She is an integral partner in each Heartworks St. Louis Gala and provides support to the Foundation’s St. Louis Walk for Victory each year.

Heartworks St. Louis has a special meaning for Dr. Braverman as he lost his father to Marfan syndrome and has a brother and nephew who are affected with the condition.

Heartworks St. Louis is now in its ninth year. More than 400 people attended last year’s event, including leading St. Louis and Metro East area clinicians and researchers on Marfan syndrome, leaders of the area’s business community, and members of the St. Louis Chapter of The Marfan Foundation.

Heartworks St. Louis will be held at the Grand Ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis. The cocktail reception begins at 7 pm, with dinner and the awards presentations at 8 pm. Entertainment will be provided by Groovethang.

Tickets to Heartworks St. Louis are $250 each. For more information and to purchase tickets, please go to The Marfan Foundation website. Or, you can contact Deborah Goodman at 516.883.8712, ext. 154, or

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The Marfan Foundation is a nonprofit organization that saves lives and improves the quality of life of individuals with genetic aortic and vascular conditions including Marfan, Loeys-Dietz, and Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndromes. Our vision is a world in which everyone with genetic aortic and vascular conditions can live their best life.

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