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Astral Light Award

Dr. Ellen R. Gritz: A Woman of Science Devoted to the Well-being of Her Fellow Man

CKW Luxe is proud to announce that Dr. Ellen R. Gritz is our honoree for the Astral Light Award. This award goes to a philanthropic woman who is inspiring and transforming lives through art, music, or science.


“I think of myself as a Renaissance woman, in the sense that I have broadly diverse interests and activities, and draw my guiding philosophical principles from mul-tiple sources. For whatever one does, I think it is critical to live in the present moment fully, deeply and mindful-ly. The sayings “Carpe Diem” (from Horace), usually translated as “Seize the day,” and, “If not now, when” (from the Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers), em-brace that concept and also involve self-discovery and the development of values.”—Dr. Ellen R. Gritz


Dr. Ellen R. Gritz is Professor Emerita at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Cen-ter. She was the founding Chair of the Depart-ment of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson and served in that position for 21 years, until her retirement. Dr. Gritz also held the Olla S. Stribling Distinguished Chair for Cancer Re-search. Prior to moving to Houston in 1993, Dr. Gritz was Professor at UCLA and Director of the Division of Cancer Control, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. She received her bachelor degree in psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University and her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, San Diego.


Dr. Gritz’s distinguished profession-al career as a clinical psychologist has made her an established leader in cancer prevention and control research, both nationally and inter-nationally. Dr. Gritz has served on numerous institutional committees and as a consultant for a number of government departments and na-tional institutions.


Dr. Gritz is a member of the Na-tional Academy of Medicine, for-merly The Institute of Medicine, and served as Chair, Section 11 (So-cial Sciences, Humanities, and Law). She is also a member of The Acad-emy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas and served on the board of directors. Dr. Gritz served as author and/or editor on eight re-ports of the U.S. Surgeon General on smoking and health. As well, she served on the board of directors of the American Legacy Foundation, the large, nonprofit public health foundation dedicated to preventing youth smoking, and was vice-chair of the board. Dr. Gritz was also president of both the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco and the American Society of Pre-ventive Oncology (ASPO).


Widely published, Dr. Gritz has written close to 200 peer-reviewed original research articles in such esteemed publications as “Nicotine and Tobacco Research,” “The Lan-cet Oncology,” and “CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians,” as well as numerous others. She has also written and published many invited articles, editorials, abstracts, book chapters, manuals, and teaching aids. As well, Dr. Gritz has edited and written various books on her fields of


ize. Her areas of research cover cigarette smoking behavior: prevention, cessation, and pharmaco-logic mechanisms and special issues of concern to women and high-risk groups, including ethnic minorities, youth, cancer patients, and persons living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illness-es. Other research areas include areca-nut and be-tel-quid use and dependence in Asia, skin cancer prevention in children and high-risk individuals, genetic testing and counseling for hereditary can-cers, and cancer survivorship.


 Over the course of her career, Dr. Gritz has received a number of distinguished awards and honors, including the ASPO Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award for outstanding research in smoking; the ASPO Distinguished Achievement Award; MD Anderson’s Margaret and James El-kins, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award in Cancer Prevention; the President’s Award for Faculty Excellence; the Alma Dea Morani, M. D. Renais-sance Woman Award honoring an outstanding physician or scientist; the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Cancer Special Interest Group’s Out-standing Biobehavioral Oncology Award; the Distinguished Professional Woman Award, UT Health Science Center-Houston; and the Wom-en in Science with Excellence (WISE) Award. Dr. Gritz is a fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the American Psychological Associa-tion, and the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. She is also a member of the Hall of Fame, Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce.


The granddaughter of Russian immigrants, Dr. Gritz was the first in her family to go to college. Her love affair with learning began early on and was nurtured by her family and her teachers. Dr. Gritz herself has served as a mentor and sponsor to many young academic scholars, from the level of graduate student through faculty, and particu-larly enjoys mentoring women scientists.


Encouraged to be active since she was a young child, Dr. Gritz believes in physical activity and enjoys swimming, scuba diving, and yoga. It is her contention that physical expression is a valu-able companion to intellectual and cultural enjoyment.


Since coming to Houston in 1993, Dr. Gritz and her husband, Milton (Mickey) D. Rosenau, have become a vital part of the city’s cultural and ar-tistic community. Passionate in her commitment to music and the arts, Dr. Gritz is a member of the board of directors of the Houston Grand Opera as well as vice-chair of the Studio Artist Committee. The latter advises the training pro-gram for young professional opera singers. Each year, Dr. Gritz and Mr. Rosenau sponsor a singer in the Studio Artist Program. Dr. Gritz is also a member of the Vanguard Committee, which explores interests in contemporary opera.


Dr. Gritz and her husband are also devoted to Asian art and culture through their involve-ment with the Asia Society, on whose board of directors Mr. Rosenau sits, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Asian Art Subcommittee. During their travels around the world, the couple have become avid collectors of the Asian folk art they both love so much.


Dr. Gritz is artistic in her own right. Through her love of orchids and floral art, she has become an enthusiastic grower of the beautiful flowers, with a large collection in her own greenhouse. CKW Luxe would like to congratulate Dr. Ellen R. Gritz on being the Astral Light Award honor-ee. As the embodiment of the award, Dr. Gritz, through her outstanding career as a scientist in cancer prevention and her philanthropic contri-butions to music and the arts, has spent a life-time helping to make people’s lives better. She has done so with grace, heart, eagerness, and re-spect making her someone for us all to emulate and admire.


In her own words, “From my many years in lead-ership roles, I believe in the necessity of demon-strating integrity, caring, compassion, generosity and personal resilience to lead as an effective mentor and role model, aligned with democrat-ic decision-making processes. Finally, I believe deeply in giving back, in thanks for what has been given to you, and in a strong commitment to the growth and enrichment of the communi-ty,” Dr. Gritz says it beautifully.

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