Skip to content
Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site


Picture of Joanna M. Cain
Scrapbook not available

Joanna M. Cain, M.D.

“I try to deliver the best possible health care for women. It's just not acceptable that in our country women are still dying of preventable diseases such as cervical cancer”


David Wu



Growing up in a small farming town in Washington state's Yakima Valley, home of the medically underserved Yakima Indian Reservation, Joanna Cain saw firsthand how difficult it is to meet the health needs of rural women. This experience helped lead her to the study of medicine at the University of Washington - and a lifetime commitment to women's health.

Putting herself through college as a laboratory technician in cancer research, she became the first woman physician to be selected for subspecialty training in women's cancer at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center/Cornell, in New York City, and went on to build a career battling women's cancers.

Nominating her as a Local Legend of Medicine, Rep. David Wu (D-OR-1), praised Cain as "a leader and pioneer for women's health and women's cancers." Her deep commitment to improving the health education, health policy, and health status for women comes from her decades of caring for women in the Northwest suffering gynecologic cancers.

A recognized national leader in women's health, she is currently Professor and Chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) and Director of the OHSU Center on Women's Health, a National Center of Excellence in Women's Health. Cain has taught and led in research, education, and clinical care for women of all ages and stages of life.

Passionate about women's access to health care, she volunteers in Portland's popular "Free Fridays" program, which offers free Pap smears and medical exams to women.

Nationally she has helped to develop a basic curriculum in women's health for the nation's schools of medicine and, with the U.S. Office of Women's Health and the Jacobs Institute of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, helped to develop and lead the first conference on the status of U.S. rural women's health. She continues to focus her research on prevention strategies for gynecologic cancers, medical ethical issues in women's health, and curricular development for women's health.

She is the first woman and first American to chair the only international ethics committee for women's health, the FIGO Committee for Ethics in Women's Health. And she is the first woman to have been President of the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO), as well as President of the Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics and Gynecology (CUCOG).

In demand as a speaker, Cain has authored more than 100 scholarly articles on women's health and health education.

"One of the great joys of my career," she says, "is watching the next generation of doctors come along and the amazing things they are finding in their research. I'd like to be remembered for helping inspire them to climb the heights -- and change medicine and lives."



Member International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (F.I.G.O); Committee for the Study of Ethical Aspects of Human Reproduction (1995-present); Chair, Committee for the Study of Ethical Aspects of Human Reproduction (1998-2004); Chair, Committee for International Cervical Cancer Prevention (2008 on)


Appointed Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Director, Center for Women's Health HHS: National Center of Excellence, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR


Appointed to National Institutes of Health Advisory Committee on Research on Women's Health; Chair National Cancer Institutes Working Group on Cervical Cancer Vaccine Trials


Selected Best Doctors in America, Inc. (2005-2006, 2007-2008)


Named Julie Neupert Stott Professor & Director, Endowed Directorship, Oregon Health Sciences University




Creighton University


Obstetrics and Gynecology

Sub Specialty

Gynecological Oncology