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

University of Pittsburgh

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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WIMS Speaker - Julie FiezJulie A. Fiez, PhD
Professor and Chair 
Department of Psychology

University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Fiez is currently a professor and Chair of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. As Chair, Dr. Fiez takes a leadership role in supporting the department’s mission of educational and research impact. She maintains an active program of NIH and NSF-supported research on the neural basis of language, reading, and learning. Mentorship and collaboration have been integral elements of her research career. She has trained eight PhD students and six postdoctoral fellows, including six women who now hold tenured or tenure-stream faculty positions. Over her 20 years as a University of Pittsburgh faculty member, she has built a network of collaborators that spans across the clinical, health, biological, developmental, and cognitive areas of psychology, and across the fields of psychology, neuroscience, neurobiology, engineering, communication science and disorders, and neurosurgery. These experiences have enriched her scientific breadth and methodological range, and provided invaluable opportunities for trainees to gain cross-cutting research experience and mentorship.

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WIMS17 Speaker - Mark GladwinMark T. Gladwin, MD
Jack D. Myers Professor and Chair
Chairman of the Department of Medicine

University of Pittsburgh

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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WIMS Speaker - Laurie KirschLaurie J. Kirsch, PhD
Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Development, and Diversity
Professor of Buisness Administration

University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Kirsch, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Development, and Diversity at the University of Pittsburgh, facilitates efforts to recruit and retain a world-class and diverse faculty, builds faculty awareness and capacity to strengthen diversity in the curriculum and inclusion in the classroom environment, and oversees the development and implementation of programs to strengthen faculty leadership and growth as teachers, scholars, and administrators. Dr. Kirsch works closely with the University Center for Teaching and Learning to foster excellence and innovation in teaching to advance educational excellence across the University. In her role, Dr. Kirsch is also responsible for reviewing faculty appointment, promotion and tenure guidelines; supervising faculty appeals processes; and advising deans and campus presidents on policies affecting faculty members.  In support of this role, she oversees the Office of Faculty Records.

Dr. Kirsch holds a BS in Computer and Information Sciences from the Ohio State University, an MA in business from the University of Iowa, and a PhD in management from the University of Minnesota. She joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1993 and is a professor of business administration at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. Dr. Kirsch’s research examines the management of IT projects, with a particular focus on control, coordination and change management. Her work has been published in leading scholarly journals, and has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Advanced Practices Council of SIM International. During her career, Dr. Kirsch has served as a senior editor or associate editor for leading scholarly journals including MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, and Management Science. She served as Senior Associate Dean of Katz from 2008 until 2013, before joining the Office of the Provost in 2013.

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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 and scientists 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 - Cynthia SimpsonCynthia Simpson, MEd, CAE 
Chief Business Development Officer

Association for Women in Science

Ms. Simpson is the Chief Business Development Officer of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). Ms. Simpson is responsible for initiating and overseeing all business development aspects for AWIS, with an emphasis on corporate and institutional partnerships. In addition, she has presented over one hundred workshops on topics of importance to women in STEM at universities, corporations, and professional societies. Ms. Simpson has coauthored various publications, including “Mentoring Postdoc Women from an Institutional Perspective,” in the book From PhD to Professoriate, and “Work-Life and Childcare Resources for Postdoc Women,” in the Advancing Postdoc Women Guidebook. Both books are published by the National Postdoctoral Association. She is a graduate of Syracuse University with a BS in business management and earned an MEd in curriculum instruction and design at George Mason University. She is a member of both the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives and the American Society of Association Executives.

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WIMS Speaker - Richard SteinmanRichard A. Steinman, MD, PhD
Associate Dean, Director
Medical Scientist Training Program
Associate Professory of Medicine and Pharmacology

University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Steinman is associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh. He also directs the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) and the Physician Scientist Training Program. He obtained his degrees as a MSTP student at the University of Pennsylvania and went on to clinical training at the University of Pittsburgh, joining the faculty in 1992. Dr. Steinman has had ongoing research support from National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as funding from the American Cancer Society, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the Department of Defense and is the PI of the NIH T32 grant. His research focuses on the analysis of the cancer microenvironment. Dr. Steinman has participated NIH and DoD study sections including both scientific and F-grant reviews. In addition to his research and administrative work, Dr. Steinman has had significant teaching and mentoring experience, serving as course director for five courses annually and publishing work on health literacy and on teaching methodologies. He has received multiple teaching, mentoring and innovation awards, including the School of Medicine Donald Fraley and Philip Troen Awards for Mentoring. In addition to predoctoral and postdoctoral mentoring, he has led a longstanding educational partnership between the UPCI cancer center and Hampton University, a minority serving institution, efforts that received a AAMC Award for Innovation in Research and Teaching. 

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

University of Pittsburgh

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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WIMS Speaker - David VorpDavid A. Vorp, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering

Swanson School of Engineering 

Dr. Vorp is the John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, with secondary appointments in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, the Department of Surgery, the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. He received both his BS and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1986 and 1992, respectively. Dr. Vorp served as the Department of Bioengineering’s graduate program chair from 2001-2009, as the founding Director for the Center for Vascular Remodeling and Regeneration, as the Co-Director of the Center for Medical Innovation, and as the Interim Director of the Petersen Institute for Nano-Science and -Engineering.

Dr. Vorp has worked closely with clinical colleagues to develop a multi-disciplinary, NIH-funded research program focusing on abdominal aortic aneurysm disease, vascular “mechanopathobiology”, and tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications for vascular and urethral systems.  Dr. Vorp has published over 120 peer-reviewed articles to date, and currently serves on three editorial boards.  His research has been supported by over $10 million in funding as principal investigator (PI), and an additional $4 million as collaborating investigator, from foundation and federal agencies, including the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

In 2009, Dr. Vorp co-founded Neograft Technologies, Inc., which focuses on the commercialization of AngioshieldTM, a vein graft modification technology developed in his laboratory which underwent “first-in-man” studies beginning in 2014. He currently holds five patents in this and other technologies.

In 2011 Dr. Vorp was recognized with the Van C. Mow Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), was twice awarded a Pitt Innovator Award, and received the Carnegie Life Sciences Award in 2013.  He served on the Executive Committee of the ASME Bioengineering Division (BED; 2006-2015), serving as ASME BED Chair from 2013-2014. Dr. Vorp was elected to the Board of Directors of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) for two terms (2006-2009; 2009-2012), and is in his second elected term as BMES Secretary (2012-2014; 2014-2016), an executive post.  In 2012, Dr. Vorp became the first non-MD President of the International Society for Applied Cardiovascular Biology, and was re-elected for a second term in 2014.  Dr. Vorp is a Fellow of ASME, BMES and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.  

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