Women in Medicine and Science Presenters & Panelists



WIMS Speaker - Yvette Alex-AssensohYvette Alex-Assensoh, PhD
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion

University of Oregon

Dr.  Alex-Assensoh is a political scientist and licensed attorney, whose interdisciplinary research focuses primarily on political behavior, immigration, political leadership and racial politics in domestic and international contexts. She is the author/co-author of six books as well as dozens of scholarly essays, book chapters and published popular newspaper columns. Her research has, over the years, been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Education, the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Spencer Foundation, the American Council on Education and university campus’ intramural grants. In addition to her research, Alex-Assensoh has written articles on higher education issues and the scholarship of teaching and learning for publication in “Chronicle of Higher Education”, “Diverse”, and a forthcoming essay in “Inside Higher Education”. She currently serves as Professor of Political Science and Vice-President for Equity and Inclusion at University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.

Over the last twenty-five years, Alex-Assensoh has devoted her career to serving people and making universities a better place for teaching, learning, research and engagement with civic and community partners. She has a special interest in gender equity, having served as the Dean of Women for almost five years at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh and her husband are the parents of two young adult sons in college. A native of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, Yvette enjoys cooking, social entertaining in her family home, reading and traveling. 

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WIMS17 Speaker - Donna DeanDonna J. Dean, PhD
Senior Federal Executive (retired), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Executive Consultant, Association for Women in Science (AWIS)

Career Consultant, American Chemical Society (ACS)

Since 2010, Dr. Dean has focused on leadership, talent development, and career enhancement strategies for organizations and individuals as executive consultant (pro bono) to the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and as career consultant for the American Chemical Society (ACS). She was Senior Science Advisor for five years with Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, a Washington D.C. based government relations consulting firm. During Dr. Dean’s 27-year career at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration, she held senior management positions in NIH's grants peer review system and was senior scientific advisor to three NIH Directors. In 2001, Dr. Dean was designated the founding/acting director of the new National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. In 2004, she was appointed senior scholar in residence at the National Academy of Engineering of the National Academies and senior advisor for Engineering to the NIH Director, focusing on the interface of engineering and the health and life sciences.  

Dr. Dean has written two books that draw upon her career experiences: Equitable Solutions for Retaining a Robust STEM Workforce (with Janet Bandows Koster; Academic Press, 2014) and Getting the Most out of Your Mentoring Relationships: A Handbook for Women in STEM (Springer 2009). Raised on a tobacco farm in eastern Kentucky, Dr. Dean earned the B.A. in chemistry from Berea College, PhD in biochemistry from Duke University, and conducted postdoctoral research in cell and developmental biology at Princeton University. Of all the awards she has received, she is most proud of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Berea College in 2007 in recognition of her career achievements in the public sector and for her advocacy for historically underrepresented groups in science and engineering.  

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WIMS Speaker - Olja FinnOlivera (Olja) J. Finn, PhD
Distinguished Professor

Department of Immunology

Dr. Finn, a native of former Yugoslavia, is University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Professor of Immunology and Surgery and Founding Chair of the Department of Immunology, the position she held from 2001 to 2013. She was Program Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute from 1991 to 2014. After receiving her PhD in Immunology at Stanford University in 1980 and completing her postdoctoral training there in 1982, Dr. Finn moved to Duke University and in 1991 to the University of Pittsburgh. She gained prominence through her original focus on transplantation biology and later through her basic and applied research focused on tumor antigens and the development of cancer vaccines. She has an extensive track record of research accomplishments reported in over 170 peer-reviewed papers and numerous reviews and book chapters. She is on editorial boards of many cancer journals and advisory boards of many cancer centers and several companies. She has served on NCI study sections and was a member of the NCI Board of Councilors. She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Immunologists, the 2017 Lloyd Old Cancer Immunology Prize from the American Association for Cancer Research and the 2016 NCI Outstanding Investigator Award.

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WIMS17 Speaker - Mark GladwinMark T. Gladwin, MD
Jack D. Myers Professor and Chair

Chairman of the Department of Medicine

Dr. Gladwin currently serves as the the Chair of the Department of Medicine and Director of the Vascular Medicine Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. He maintains an active research group and is currenty PI of two R01 awards, a PO1 award and a pulmonary vascular translational medicine T32 training grant. He has published more than 350 manuscripts since 1996, which have had a significant impact on the fields of vacular and nitric oxide biology.

His work on the nitrite anion has led to the development and licensing of intravenous, oral and inhaled nitrite as a human therapeutic, with completion of animal toxicology, GMP formulations and phase Ia and Ib clinical trials, with licensing of the drug to United Therapeutics. Phase II trials of inhaled nitrite are now underway for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. In addition to stuidies of nitrite, he characterized a novel mechanism of disease, hemolysis-associated endothelial dysfunction. This work has described a state of resistance to NO in patients with sickle cell disease, malaria, transfusion of aged blood, and other hemolytic conditions, caused by scavenging of nitric oxide by hemoglobin that is released into plasma during hemolysis.  These studies translated to clinical and epidemiological description of a human disease syndrome, hemolysis-associated pulmonary hypertension.

Dr. Gladwin has served as PI on four multicenter phase II-III clinical trials in SCD patients, the DeNOVO trial of NO therapy for acute pain crisis in patients with sickle cell disease, the Walk-PHASST trial of sildenafil for PH secondary to sickle cell disease, the EPIC trial of poloxomer 188 for vaso-occlusive painful crisis, and the current STERIO-SCD, a clinical trial of the sGC stimulator Riociguat for patients with SCD and cardiopulmonary risk factors.

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WIMS17 Speaker - Janet Bandows KosterJanet Bandows Koster
Executive Director, CEO

Association for Women in Science

Bandows Koster is executive director and CEO of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). She has over 25 years of experience leading organizations in both the United States and overseas, with particular expertise in global gender and workforce issues. In addition to her newest book Equitable Solutions for Retaining a Robust STEM Workforce: Beyond Best Practices which addresses systemic factors leading to the dearth of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers, Bandows Koster has authored numerous reports and presented at professional meetings about issues at the nexus of gender and STEM. Her work has appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Forbes, Huffington Post, the Journal of International Innovation, and Open Science EU. She has served as principal investigator and co-principal investigator on multiple federal grants, including the NSF-funded project AWARDS (Advancing Ways of Awarding Recognition in Disciplinary Societies) which partners with 18 STEM disciplinary societies to increase women’s contribution to the research enterprise. She led the efforts to create research-based organizational changes in the STEM disciplinary societies to improve the equity of awards allocation processes within each organization. In 2014 and 2015, Bandows Koster participated in the Global Entrepreneurship Summits in Morocco and Kenya, serving as a mentor for the GIST Tech I Program, an annual competition supported by the US Department of State that attracts the most promising entrepreneurs from emerging economies. Most recently, she was recognized with the 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award. 

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WIMS Speaker - Patricia KrobothPatricia D. Kroboth, PhD
Dean of School of Pharmacy
Dr. Gordon J. Vanscoy Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Kroboth is dean of the School of Pharmacy and Dr. Gordon J. Vanscoy Distinguished Service Professor in the School of Pharmacy. Prior to her appointment as dean in 2002, she served as chair of the Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics (1988 to 1996), then chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (1996 to 2002). She has had hands-on experience with all aspects of academic pharmacy including practice, research, teaching, and administration. She sustained continuous funding for her research program and graduate students for more than 20 years until 2004. She is an elected fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (1991), the American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientists (1996), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2016). In 2013, she received the American College of Clinical Pharmacology Award for Mentoring in Clinical Pharmacology.

Dr. Kroboth has led the PittPharmacy community to a shared vision for the School of Pharmacy, which ranks #9 in US News & World Report. Through her vision, the school has become a national leader in pharmacy education, with personalized education and national award-winning approaches to teaching and assessment. The school’s research spans the drug development spectrum from computational drug discovery and drug delivery through patient outcomes and new models of care, including “big data” and pharmacogenetics. The faculty, staff, and students of PittPharmacy embrace a culture of excellence, innovation, and leadership and are committed to fostering passion and creativity, collaboration and teamwork.

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WIMS17 Speaker - Sandra MasurSandra K. Masur, PhD
Professor of Ophthalmology and Director
Office for Women's Careers

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr. Masur is a basic scientist and an activist for science andscientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where she is professor of Ophthalmology and of Pharmacological Sciences, and the founding and current director of its Office for Women’s Careers.

Her explorations of the cell biology of membrane transport and of corneal wound healing were funded by the NIH for 35 years. As part of her active support of scientists, she chaired the Women in Cell Biology (WICB) Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) from 2008-2016. WICB's major objective is to provide opportunities and information useful to women and men in developing their careers in cell biology. She was codirector of the National Eye Institute’s “Fundamental issues in Vision Research”at the Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA from 2000-2010, and was a participant in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office for Research in Women’s Health strategic planning for Women in Science. She is a frequent keynote lecturer on how to negotiate and how to support women in STEMM.

Among her awards are the Women in Medicine Silver Achievement Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Outstanding Woman Scientist of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS, NYC branch). The ASCB established the Sandra K. Masur Senior Leadership Award in 2016 to honor individuals with exemplary achievements in cell biology, who are also outstanding mentors. A lifelong New Yorker, Dr. Masur received her undergraduate degree at the City College of New York in Esthetics and in Biology, and earned her PhD at Columbia University in Cell Biology.

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WIMS17 Speaker - Victor SchusterVictor L. Schuster, MD
Senior Vice-Dean

Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY

Dr. Schuster received his MD at Washington University, St. Louis in 1977. He was an intern, resident, and chief resident in Internal Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle, and a renal fellow at Southwestern Medical School, Dallas. His first faculty position was at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. In 1988, he moved to Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx where he became chief of the Einstein Renal Division in 1992 and chief of the Unified Renal Division (Einstein + Montefiore hospital) in 1998. He has been Baumritter Professor of Medicine since 2002. From 2002-2014, he was Chair of the Department of Medicine at Einstein and at Montefiore Medical Center. Since 2014, he has been Senior Vice-Dean at Einstein.

Dr. Schuster’s research laboratory discovered the prostaglandin (PG) transporter PGT and extended the work to human and mouse genetics and drug discovery. His group has advanced the novel hypothesis that PG signaling is akin to neuronal signaling, i.e. the signaling molecule is released and is then taken up again by the same cell for inactivation. By screening a small molecule library and carrying out subsequent lead compound development, the laboratory has developed a series of high-affinity PGT inhibitors that, in pre-clinical studies, mitigate several features of the metabolic syndrome. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Schuster serves as the Renal Consult Service attending physician and as the inpatient Internal Medicine attending physician for several weeks each year; is a frequent discussant of clinical cases with students, interns, and residents; and regularly lectures on renal physiology, renal pathophysiology, renal disease, prostaglandin signaling, and nonsteroidal drug design to the Einstein medical students, MD-PhD students, renal fellows, and graduate students.

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WIMS Speaker - Ann ThompsonAnn E. Thompson, MD
Vice Dean, School of Medicine

Professor of Critical Care Medicine

Dr. Thompson is Vice Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPSOM) and Professor of Critical Care Medicine. She was Chief of Pediatric Critical Care from 1981- 2009; President of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, only the second woman to hold that position; Chair of the Sub-board of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine of the American Board of Pediatrics; member of the RRC for Pediatrics (ACGME); member of the Board of the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies; and Chair of PALISI, a pediatric critical care clinical research network. She has received the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Distinguished Career Award, Society of Critical Care Medicine’s Distinguished Service Award, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Wiener Award for Outstanding Contributions to Pediatric Healthcare, and the Girl Scouts of Western PA Woman of Distinction in Healthcare Award. As prior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at UPSOM, she mentored countless junior faculty with a special interest in women as they navigated stages of their professional careers. As Vice Dean she established the Diversity Advisory Council at UPSOM and is working across the school to promote a diverse and vibrant community where everyone feels acknowledged, respected and valued. She has persistently advocated for better practices for recruiting and promoting outstanding women and minorities under-represented in medicine in the UPSOM and professional organizations. In each of her roles she has supported the advancement of women and men of diverse backgrounds to positions of academic leadership across the nation.

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WIMS Speaker - Jennifer WoodwardJennifer E. Woodward, PhD
Associate Vice Provost for Research Operations
Professor of Surgery and Immunology

University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Woodward is currently Associate Vice Provost (AVP) for Research Operations and professor of surgery and immunology at the University of Pittsburgh. As AVP, she provides leadership and strategic direction for the University’s research operations and oversees the Office of Research. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Woodward was assistant dean for faculty affairs in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and executive director for research and academic affairs at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. Dr. Woodward’s academic career began in physiology-based orthopaedic research and evolved to the field of transplantation immunology, where she explored the models and  mechanisms  of transplantation tolerance. Dr. Woodward’s teaching and mentoring have been multifaceted. From her breadth of experiences, Dr. Woodward has a strong understanding of the  academic landscape and a long history and commitment to the professional development of faculty, staff, and students. She frequently is invited to present lectures and workshops for faculty and trainees on academic success, networking, and negotiation. Dr. Woodward earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Presbyterian College, a Master of Science degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a PhD in microbiology and immunology from the Medical University of South Carolina.

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WIMS Speaker - Lise VesterlundLise Vesterlund, PhD
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Economics

University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Vesterlund is the Chair and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Department of Economics. She is also a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research. She holds a BA in Economics from the University of Copenhagen, and an MA and PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin. She serves and has served on numerous editorial boards (American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Literature, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of European Economics Association, Experimental Economics, Journal of Experimental Economics Association). Her highly cited and NSF funded research focuses on understanding how and why we give to charity, and on why men are more successful than women in climbing the corporate ladder. Using experimental methods she has documented behavioral differences that can contribute to the persistent vertical gender segregation. Dr. Vesterlund has shown that relative to equally able men, women are more reluctant to enter competitions, less likely to overestimate their relative ability, and more likely to accept or volunteer for non-promotable task assignments. In acknowledging these differences, her work points to the mechanisms that can be put in place to ensure that the best-qualified candidates are those promoted. She serves or has served on the NSF Economics Panel, the ESA Executive Committee, the Advisory Boards of the Study of Generosity in Economics (ASGE), the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, and the National Council for Research on Women, Corporate Circle. 

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