September 4, 2019

Fashion event to help support ovarian cancer research

Vanderbilt Health physicians will be among the runway models during the 7th Annual T.J. Martell Foundation Chic Awearness on Sept. 23.


by Tom Wilemon

A night of fashion, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres takes place Monday, Sept. 23, when Vanderbilt Health physicians will be among the runway models during the 7th Annual T.J. Martell Foundation Chic Awearness.

The event, which raises funds for ovarian cancer research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Analog at the Hutton Hotel. Tickets can be purchased online under “upcoming events” at

Founded by ovarian cancer survivor and advocate Marci Houff, the mission of Chic Awearness is to create awareness about ovarian cancer while funding cutting-edge research.

“We’ve had a lot of improvements in treatment, but unfortunately ovarian cancer remains a very difficult disease to treat and cure,” said Marta Crispens, MD, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at VICC. “Having events like Chic Awearness to raise money for the T.J. Martell Foundation to help us explore better treatments for this disease is hugely important.”

The T.J. Martell Foundation has funded research by Crispens and Kevin Osteen, PhD, Pierre Soupart Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, to investigate whether environmental toxins could affect the function of immune cells within the omentum, which could have subsequent repercussions on ovarian cancer growth and spread. The research, which involves recreation of the organ microenvironment in cell cultures, is ongoing, but preliminary data do indicate an effect.

The achievements of Howard Jones III, MD, former chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, will be recognized when his family is presented with the Frances Hill Caldwell Jackson Courage Award. Jones, who died March 9 at 76, was a world-renowned researcher into the causes and treatment of gynecologic cancers.

“With the sudden passing of Dr. Jones, who happened to be my doctor, I thought there is no better person to receive the Courage Award this year,” Houff said.

This year’s models include Lauren Prescott, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Ronald Alvarez, MD, MBA, Betty and Lonnie S. Burnett professor and chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Emmy-award winning journalist and NewsChannel 5 co-anchor Rhori Johnston will emcee the event.

Nashville premier retailers taking part in Chic Awearness, which will showcase both women’s and men’s fashions, include Emerson Grace, Gus Mayer, H. Audrey, Stacey Rhodes Boutique, Any Old Iron, Billy Reid, J. Michaels Clothiers and Peter Millar.

Chic Awearness has generated more than $400,000 since 2013, with approximately $280,000 funding ovarian cancer research, Houff said.

“Upon moving here, it struck me that Nashville was such a giving, philanthropic town, but no one was doing anything for ovarian cancer awareness or research,” Houff said. “In my mind, if there was ever a need and a time and a place for such an event, it was then in Nashville. Our initial mission was to simply create awareness around this devastating disease.”

Chic Awearness later joined forces with the T.J. Martell Foundation, which is the music industry’s leading foundation that funds innovative medical research focused on finding treatments and cures for cancer.

The foundation has provided more than $280 million for research that supports flagship hospitals in the United States, including a cumulative $19.8 million in gifts to VICC.