In recent decades, women physicians have risen to the very top ranks of the institutions that lead medical research and define the highest standards of practice. Deciding which issues to focus upon, they direct research and funding and are instrumental in implementing the policies, developing the drugs and treatments, and drafting the legislation to meet emerging medical challenges.
From high-profile, influential positions, women physicians provide examples and encouragement, as well as career opportunities, for other women who hope to practice medicine.
When Dr. Antonia Novello was appointed Surgeon General of the United States by President George Bush in 1990, she was the first woman—and the first Hispanic—ever to hold that office. Her appointment came after nearly two decades of public service at the National Institutes of Health, where she took a role in drafting national legislation regarding organ transplantation. READ MORE
In her role as the first woman editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Catherine DeAngelis, M.D., has made a special effort to publish substantive scientific articles on women's health issues. The journal plays an important role in bringing new research to light, and featured articles can lead to fundamental changes in treatment. Under her editorship, the journal published a landmark study questioning the benefits of hormone replacement therapy in 2002. She also served as editor of the Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, from 1993 to 2000. READ MORE
As director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences from 1974 to 1993, Dr. Ruth Kirschstein was the first woman institute director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Throughout her career, she has worked as an administrator, fundraiser, and scientific researcher, investigating possible public health responses in the midst of crisis and conservatism. READ MORE
Dr. Helen Ranney's landmark research during the 1950s was some of the earliest proof of a link between genetic factors and sickle cell anemia. She went on to become the first woman to chair the department of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and was the first woman president of the Association of American Physicians from 1984 to 1985. READ MORE
Dr. Audrey Forbes Manley received a music scholarship to study at Spelman College in Atlanta. She took the opportunity to expand her education and interests and moved into the sciences. She was appointed Assistant Surgeon General in 1988, and is the first African American woman to hold a position of that rank in the United States Public Health Service. In 1997 she returned to Spelman, after forty years in medicine, to serve as president of the college. READ MORE
In 1966, Frances Krauskopf Conley became the first woman to pursue a surgical internship at Stanford University Hospital, and in 1986 she became the first tenured full professor of neurosurgery at a medical school in the United States. In 1991, she risked her career when she drew public attention to the sexist environment which, she argued, pervaded Stanford University Medical Center. READ MORE
Cardiologist Bernadine Healy is a physician, educator, and health administrator who was the first woman to head the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Known for her outspoken, innovative policymaking, Dr. Healy has been particularly effective in addressing medical policy and research pertaining to women. READ MORE
Dr. Paula Johnson is a women's health specialist and a pioneer in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. She conceived of and developed one of the first facilities in the country to focus on heart disease in women. READ MORE
Dr. Joan Reede works to recruit and prepare minority students for jobs in the biomedical professions, and to promote better health care policies for the benefit of minority populations. In 2001, she became Harvard Medical School's first dean for diversity and community partnership. She is the first African American woman to hold that rank at HMS and one of the few African American women to hold a deanship at a medical school in the United States. READ MORE
The Videos require the use of the QuickTime Player. Click the link to download QuickTime Player or view the text-only transcript.