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Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund recognizes Upstate surgeon with Humanitarian Award

Lisa Lai, MD, a breast surgeon at Upstate University Hospital, stands in the Upstate Cancer Center.

The Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY has chosen an Upstate University Hospital breast surgeon as its annual Humanitarian Award recipient.

Lisa M. Lai, MD, medical director of the Patricia Numann Center for Breast, Endocrine & Plastic Surgery will be honored at the Baldwin Fund’s Gala on May 31 for her work helping women in Central New York recover from breast cancer.

The Baldwin Fund has long been a generous Upstate benefactor as all of its fundraising supports research at Upstate. Since 2002, the Baldwin Fund has provided more than $3 million in grants for breast cancer research to Upstate Medical University.

Lai said she has worked closely with the Baldwin Fund – co-founder Beth Baldwin in particular – since she started at Upstate in 2016.

“Beth and I have each other on speed dial for various things,” Lai said. “She knows the patient world and she knows my world and I can help get a patient plugged into whatever they need. We can get them the soonest appointment, imaging, a biopsy, a diagnosis and then get started on a treatment plan.

“It’s a very nice partnership.”

Lai said she is honored to receive the award and said her work as a doctor, surgeon and patient advocate would not be possible without a greater Upstate team of people working to help women with breast cancer.

“This is not just an award for me,” she said. “I work with so many people – a dedicated team of nurses, clinical and non-clinical staff in the office, plastic surgeons and more – who make this process nice and smooth for the patients. I’m accepting the award on behalf of my whole department. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t be able to give the care that I give.”

Board certified in surgery, Lai sees patients at the Upstate Breast Care Center and the Upstate Cancer Center. Her treatment specialties are general breast care, breast cancer screening and risk evaluation, benign breast disease, breast cancer evaluation, treatment and surgeries including lumpectomy, mastectomy, nipple sparing mastectomy and lymph node evaluation. She completed her fellowship in breast surgical oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. She is an assistant professor of surgery at Upstate Medical University.

“It’s very easy to get bogged down by paperwork and charts and emails and administrative stuff,” she said. “But there is no greater joy than taking care of a patient.”

The Baldwin Gala will be 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, May 31 at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

Caption: Lisa M. Lai, MD, medical director of the Patricia Numann Center for Breast, Endocrine & Plastic Surgery at Upstate University Hospital, will receive the Humanitarian Award from the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY on May 31.