The ABC Fredi Kronenberg Award was created in 2018 and named in honor of distinguished researcher, educator, and longtime ABC Board of Trustees member Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, who died in April 2017. Kronenberg dedicated her professional life to the study of medicinal plants and phytomedicines for women’s health conditions. She was particularly interested in phytoestrogen-containing botanicals, such as black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), for the treatment of menopause symptoms.
Kronenberg was a champion of integrative medicine and co-founded the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) at Columbia University — the first CAM program at an Ivy League school and the first government-funded CAM research and educational center. For 10 years, she also co-directed an onsite five-day continuing education course for physicians and other health care providers interested in botanical medicine.
“I am very touched and honored to be given this award and doubly honored for the sisterhood I find myself in,” Hardy said. “This is a lovely way to remember my dear friend Fredi, and it is a great privilege to be included in the company of two of the leaders in women’s health, Aviva Romm [MD] and Tieraona Low Dog [MD], the prior recipients of this award.”
Hardy earned an MD at Louisiana State University in her hometown of New Orleans. In 1998, she co-founded the Cedars-Sinai Integrative Medicine Medical Group at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, one of the most major medical centers on the West Coast. This was one of the first integrative medicine clinics in the US.
From 2000 to 2004, Hardy was a research associate at RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, which develops solutions to make people safer and healthier. There, Hardy evaluated the safety and efficacy of CAM therapies and received sponsorship to evaluate alternative cancer practices and concerns about the safety of the traditional Chinese herb ephedra (Ephedra sinica).
From 2002 to 2005, she was the associate director of the Center for Dietary Supplement Research in Botanicals at UCLA, where she led the scientific management of the center and research design process, established seminar programs for fellows, and qualified botanical materials for research. From 2005 to 2009, Hardy was the co-director of the Health and Wellness Program of the Venice Family Clinic, the largest free clinic in the United States.
She has served on expert committees of the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, including a panel to develop methods to assess risk for multi-component dietary supplements, including botanical products. She also has served as a botanical medicine and clinical trials expert on committees of the Natural Health Products Directorate of the Canadian government. Hardy has been considered an integrative medicine expert by the US National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, the Medical Board of California, the American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association, National Geographic, CBS, NBC, Discovery Channel, and The Los Angeles Times.
She co-authored a book, Reader’s Digest Best Remedies: Breakthrough Prescriptions That Blend Conventional and Natural Medicine (The Reader’s Digest Association, 2006), and has been on several editorial and advisory boards. She has received grants to study the effects of manuka honey (produced from the nectar of Leptospermum scoparium) during radiation for breast cancer and the effects of black cohosh on normal mammary gland and mammary tumor development. Currently, she is the director of Wellness Works, a consulting and educational company in Los Angeles that she founded in 2012.
For the last twenty years, Hardy has taught in medical schools at the University of Southern California and the University of California-Los Angeles and been on faculty for integrative medicine fellowships at Georgetown University and the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) in San Diego. Her areas of expertise include the safety of botanical and dietary supplements, botanical medicine, and patient provider communication.
Dr. Romm, who received the ABC Fredi Kronenberg Award for 2018, endorsed Hardy for the award. In her endorsement, Romm praised Hardy for working “tirelessly and selflessly behind the scenes with no thought of fame or glory, only the advancement of the work,” adding that Hardy has pushed successfully “for the integration of evidence-based botanical medicine into medical and scientific settings.
“Mary is an inspiration to work alongside,” Romm added. “She often asks the most incisive questions…and has a command of the literature…. Yet she shares with the most admirable qualities of confidence, humility, collegiality, and generosity. I cannot think of anyone more deserving, or fitting, to receive this award. I am quite confident that Fredi would agree.”
The award was to have been presented to Dr. Hardy at the 15th Annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony on March 4, 2020, in Anaheim, California. However, it was cancelled due to the postponement of the Natural Products Expo West tradeshow and conference in response to global concerns about the coronavirus.