National Pancreas Foundation to Honor Allegheny Health Network Physicians, Nurse at Annual Gala

Updated on May 1, 2022

Three Allegheny Health Network (AHN) caregivers were honored for their expertise, skill and compassion in caring for people suffering from diseases of the pancreas, and their work in raising awareness of these diseases, at this year’s National Pancreas Foundation’s “Courage for a Cure” Gala, held April 23 at Carnegie Science Center.

Katie Farah, MD, FASGE, received the Courage Award for Pancreatitis, Suzanne Schiffman, MD, received the Courage Award for Pancreatic Cancer and Mary Waters, RN, BSN, received the Compassionate Care Award.

Dr. Farah, chief medical officer at AHN Wexford Hospital, is also a practicing gastroenterologist and therapeutic endoscopist at AHN, treating patients with acute and chronic pancreatitis. In the network’s Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Dr. Farah led initiatives that improved safety, efficiency, quality and patient access to care, and standardized cancer screening practices. 

Dr. Schiffman, a surgical oncologist specializing in the treatment of complex abdominal cancers, is the Surgical Lead for Pancreatic Cancer at AHN Cancer Institute.  She has a focus in minimally invasive gastrointestinal surgery including robotic liver and pancreatic surgery.  She works in close collaboration with colleagues in medical and radiation oncology to develop an individualized multidisciplinary treatment plan for each patient. 

Ms. Waters has dedicated her career to working with patients suffering from pancreatic disease. She provides excellent care to her patients and offers kindness and support to their families and loved ones, always willing to go above and beyond for the patients and the pancreatic disease community. Ms. Waters has also been served as captain of the AHN Purple Stride Team through the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network since 2019.

“Dr. Farah, Dr. Schiffman and Ms. Waters are true leaders in the care of patients with pancreatic disease, offering care that combines expertise at the highest levels with great empathy for patients and their struggles,” said Patter Birsic, Co-founder of the National Pancreas Foundation and Chair of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter. “They also tirelessly work to raise awareness of pancreatic disease in the community. We are delighted to honor them this year and grateful to have them as part of our community.”

The Multidisciplinary Pancreas Center (MDPC), part of AHN’s Allegheny Center for Digestive Health, brings together specialists from gastroenterology, surgical oncology, medical oncology and radiology to provide comprehensive care for patients with pancreatic cancer and other pancreatic diseases. Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths, and often does not have symptoms until it is at an advanced stage, at which point it is much more difficult to treat.

Recognized by the National Pancreas Foundation as a Center of Excellence for pancreatic care, the MDPC at AHN is nationally known for its novel use of leading-edge technologies and minimally-invasive, robotic-assisted surgical techniques for the treatment of pancreatic tumors and pancreatitis.

Dan Onorato, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Highmark Health, and his wife Shelly, were chairs of the event. More information is available at


About National Pancreas Foundation 

The National Pancreas Foundation (NPF) was founded as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in 1997. Since that time, we have made it our mission to significantly influence the pancreatic research community and provide much needed information and resources to patients who are courageously battling pancreatic disease. NPF is headquartered in Bethesda, MD, and has a volunteer-based network of State Chapters supporting local fundraising, education and outreach efforts.

About the Allegheny Health Network:

Allegheny Health Network ( is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region.  The Network is composed of 14 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, an employed physician organization, home and community based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more.  AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,600 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

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