The Center for BrainHealth’s invitation-only gathering to present the Dr. Charles L. Branch BrainHealth Award to Dr. Susan Hockfield on Tuesday, November 2, at the Center had a grand turnout. It almost appeared to be a Branch family reunion, with three generations of the late doctor’s clan in attendance. One of the highlights of the evening was Branch family matriarch Sylvia Branch‘s “tribute” to her late husband, as well as a chat between the awardee and Dr. Mark D’Esposito. Here’s a report from the field:
A who’s who of academic leaders, scientists and philanthropists came together at the Center for BrainHealth for an invitation-only event on the evening of Tuesday, November 2, to honor MIT President Emerita Dr. Susan Hockfield as the 10th recipient of the prestigious Dr. Charles L. Branch BrainHealth Award.
This brainy gathering was long-awaited, as it had originally been scheduled for March 2020 – and we all know what happened that month! To ensure Dr. Hockfield felt as safe as possible for her first trip since the pandemic began and to show her some true Texas hospitality, a BrainHealth supporter generously provided a private plane to transport her from Boston to Dallas.
Dr. Hockfield’s local connections run deep, and two of her longtime friends were special guests at her table Eugene McDermott Foundation President Mary McDermott Cook and Dallas Symphony Association President/CEO Kim Noltemy.
Also at the event were Stacey and the Honorable Dan Branch with three generations of the Branch family (Catherine Branch, Judy and Al Branch, Sylvia Branch, Charlie Branch, Sarah Branch and Daniel Branch), Robin and Eric Bennett, Jean Ann Brock, Jordan Cowman, Peggy Dear, Ann and Chuck Eisemann, Debbie Francis, Marena and Roger Gault, Carol and Don Glendenning, Debbie and Carlos Hernandez, Lyda Hill, Marissa and Michael Horne, Dan Patterson, Jennifer and Peter Roberts, Mary and Tim Rooney and UT Dallas President Richard Benson.
This was the first donor gathering at BrainHealth since February 2020, and everyone was eager to see each other again after what felt like a “lost year.” The 100 guests enjoyed a sumptuous dinner prepared by Chef Darren McGrady of Eating Royally, featuring an extraordinary main dish of braised beef short ribs with chimichurri sauce, Parmesan mashed potato veloute, parsnip chips and buttered baby carrots.
The nearly 90-year-old Branch family matriarch and widow of the award’s namesake Sylvia Branch shared a touching tribute to her husband, a neurologist and humanitarian. The highlight of the evening was a fireside chat between Dr. Hockfield and Dr. Mark D’Esposito, Distinguished BrainHealth Scientist and Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley, during which Dr. Hockfield shared insights about her personal journey as well as thoughts about a future that enables problem-solving and purpose-driven activities like promoting brain health.
The evening was made possible thanks to The Eugene McDermott Foundation.
* Photo credit: Jason Voinov