Morristown, N.J. (December 5, 2017) – Dr. Alice Lazzarini, '62, received the College's highest honor, the Mother Xavier Award, during festivities for Founder's Day in early December. The award is given annually to an alumnae/i who demonstrates the same leadership, confidence, faith in God and zeal for the mission of the College that was Mother Mary Xavier Mehegan's – the Sister of Charity who had the vision of a place for women to have access to higher education.
"Alice Lazzarini is a person of distinction, never forgetting her responsibility to others and using her gifts to make the burden of others less," said Helen J. Streubert, president of the College of Saint Elizabeth. "It is my hope that Alice will count this award among her proudest moments."
Lazzarini, who worked as a genetic researcher, was one of the first to shed light on possible genetic components of Parkinson's disease. In fact, during the late 1990s she was part of a research team, in the department of neurology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, that discovered the first causative mutation for Parkinson's, PARK1. This breakthrough revolutionized the study of the disease and directed further research toward the examination of a protein considered key to Parkinson's.
"Besides having many fun stories, my years here at the College of Saint Elizabeth instilled in me the qualities of courage, faith and vision modeled for us by Mother Xavier," says Lazzarini, who went on to develop Parkinson's herself in later life. Her book, "Both Sides Now: A Journey from Researcher to Patient" follows her transition from studying the disease to fighting it firsthand. "I thank Mother Mary Xavier Mehegan for her legacy and everyone who made my years here at the College of Saint Elizabeth's a rich, life-altering experience."
Following the award presentation, which was attended by family, friends, alumnae and College leadership, the annual Christmas concert, Cathedral Sounds, was held in Holy Family Chapel.