By Emily Ortman, SWHR Communication Director
Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night to celebrate advancements in women’s health at the Society for Women’s Health Research 29th Annual Awards Dinner. (See photo gallery at bottom of post and view the event program.)
SWHR President and CEO Dr. Amy M. Miller kicked off the event by reflecting on how far women’s health has come and how far the field still needs to go. “Each of us works daily to serve SWHR’s mission to improve women’s health through science, policy and education,” she said.
“We share a grand vision of making women’s health mainstream,” Miller said. “Together, we can do it. Every single sponsor and person here is committed to that vision.”
SWHR then recognized three leaders who share this vision and have made remarkable contributions to improving women’s health:
- Health Public Service Visionary Award winner: Carolyn Clancy, Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks, Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
- Health Industry Visionary Award winner: Cen Xu, Scientific Director, Neuroscience Discovery Research, Amgen
- Health Communications Visionary Award winner: John J. Seng, past SWHR Board member and founder of Spectrum Science Communications
Dr. Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation and a former SWHR Board member, took to the stage to present Clancy’s award, praising her for her leadership to improve the VA’s health care system for female veterans. Currently, there are 1.9 million living women veterans, who make up nearly 10% of total veteran population.
“That’s who I strive to be — a visionary like Dr. Clancy who’s changing an entire massive system,” Miller said.
In a video presentation, Clancy described the VA’s efforts “to support and nurture the work of its women’s health researchers.” She pointed to research in reproductive health, mental health, and post-deployment health, as well as highlighted work on crafting prosthetics for women with limb loss to meet their unique needs.
“On behalf of the women who have made the choice to serve this country … it is such an honor to get this award from SWHR, which for so many years has really insisted that women are not just smaller versions of men,” Clancy said.
SWHR Board of Directors Chair Dr. Roberta Gartside presented the award to Xu for her dedication to finding treatments for neurological conditions like migraine that have significant effects on millions of women’s lives. Xu is a co-inventor for the first FDA-approved treatment specifically designed to prevent migraine, which affects 18% of women in the U.S., and she called the achievement the highlight of her career.
“As a female researcher in this field, I am honored to help tackle a disease that predominately affects women, particularly in a therapeutic area that has lacked pioneering treatment options for patients for many years,” Xu said in a video presentation. “I’m truly hopeful that this discovery can change patients’ lives one by one.”
Alan Eisenberg, vice president of global government relations and public policy at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, presented the award to Seng for his longtime support of SWHR and its mission to eliminate imbalances in health care for women. Seng founded a communications company called Spectrum Science Communications that worked with SWHR in its earliest years to build its voice and influence.
The event wrapped up with Miller thanking the honorees, sponsors, and the evening’s master of ceremonies, award-winning journalist Sam Ford, DC Bureau Chief for ABC7 and WJLA 24/7. She invited everyone to join SWHR next year in celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The proceeds from the annual awards dinner will benefit the SWHR’s science, policy, and education programs. SWHR thanks the event sponsors, including Benefactor-level sponsor Amgen, Diamond-level sponsor Eli Lilly and Co., and Gold-level sponsors Astellas, PhRMA, Genentech and Roche.