September is Women in Medicine month. Although underrepresented in our field for decades, today women make up just about half of all medical students. And the American Association of Medical Colleges tells us that the number of female medical school applicants and enrollees hit record numbers this past year. This is important because women in medicine have long played a major part in innovation, clinical care, and the education of trainees and students in the health sciences.
Women in Medicine Month is tailor-made for CWRU, the school that graduated six of the first seven women ever awarded the MD degree in the US, and our proud tradition of accomplished women continues to this day.
Consider alumna Julie Gerberding, MD, who was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2002 to 2009 and is now executive vice president for strategic communications, global public policy, and population health at Merck. Consider alumna Ann McKee, MD, an authority on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease, who found that repeated concussions among athletes caused later dementia, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease. Consider alumna Abby Abelson, MD, a leading rheumatologist, department chair, and director of education at the Cleveland Clinic. Or alumna Kathy Magliato, MD, an outstanding cardiothoracic surgeon and published author, whose life was of sufficient general interest to warrant a fictionalized TV show (which she co-executive produced).
Also consider alumna Lori Taylor, PhD, who is vice president of global communications at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and develops new drugs. Or alumna the late Anne Templeton Zimmerman, MD, a tireless supporter of many causes, who set the example for her male colleagues in Wyoming as she rendered care to the prison population and co-founded the American chapter of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights organization.
It’s not only our alumni who raise the profile of women at CWRU SOM. Our women faculty members have been driving forward for years. Examples are numerous, ranging from the outstanding women leaders who founded the FLEX program, which enhances leadership skills for women in medicine to Elaine Borawski, PhD, who established the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods supported by the CDC, recruiting two new female faculty members, Darcy Freedman, PhD, and Erika Trapl, PhD, both of whom have assisted in the PRC and yet made their own marks in the community space. Or Rose Gubitosi-Klug, MD, PhD, who leads a major national clinical study in diabetes, recently extended to follow up an extremely valuable cohort. Just in the last month, Nicole Steinmetz, PhD, landed four NIH grants, and Susann Brady-Kalnay, PhD, was awarded no fewer than five new grants from the NIH and other sources, one of them in the inaugural group of grants in this class.
This of course does not exhaust the list of outstanding SOM women faculty members, a number of whom we will be highlighting this month and throughout our 175th anniversary year. We are thrilled with their success.