SWHR annual Awards gala

Celebrating achievements, advancements, & innovations in women’s health.


Each year, supporters of the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) gather together for the SWHR Annual Awards Gala to honor individuals who are devoting their careers to improving women’s health and women’s advancement in science and medicine.

Join us at the 2022 Annual Awards Gala

Gather with us on Thursday, April 28, 2022 at the InterContinental Washington DC at The Wharf to honor leaders and innovators in women’s health research. Find sponsorship and ticket information here.

Catch Highlights from the 2021 Annual Awards Gala

We gathered together virtually on April 29, 2021 to honor three women who have devoted their careers to women’s advancement in science and medicine. Read more here.


PAST HONOREES

Lotus Mallbris, MD, PhD
Health Industry Visionary Award Winner
Lotus Mallbris, MD, PhD
Health Industry Visionary Award Winner

Dr. Mallbris is the Vice President and Global Head of Immunology Product Development at Eli Lilly and Co. As head of immunology at Lilly, she is working to improve the lives of millions of women with autoimmune diseases by furthering innovation in health care and solving problems for patients. Dr. Mallbris is a passionate executive leader who brings a unique perspective to the industry as she began her career as a trained physician and has diverse experience across the spectrums of patient care, academic research, pharmaceutical drug development and global medical affairs.

She joined Lilly in 2015 and leads the company’s multifunctional Global Clinical Development and Global Medical Affairs teams across the dermatology, rheumatology, and gastroenterology fields. Before joining Lilly, she spent several years at Pfizer and held leadership positions within the dermatology business. Prior to joining the corporate world, Dr. Mallbris was a practicing physician for more than 10 years, starting her career as a surgeon before transitioning to the field of dermatology. Her decision to shift from academia and practicing as a dermatologist to joining a biopharmaceutical company was rooted in her desire to help more patients and bring them the treatments they need.

Dr. Mallbris has always been devoted to patients and found caring for them incredibly rewarding, but recognized an opportunity to take that devotion to the next level by joining the companies working to create the innovative solutions needed to help patients around the world. She continues to be an active member of multiple external immunology research advisory boards that focus on public health and epidemiology, bridging the external state-of-the-art research with Lilly.

Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, FACOG
Health Education Visionary Award Winner
Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, FACOG
Health Education Visionary Award Winner

As President and Dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Montgomery Rice provides a valuable combination of experience at the highest levels of patient care and medical research, as well as organizational management and public health policy. She is the sixth president of Morehouse School of Medicine and the first woman to lead the freestanding medical institution. A renowned infertility specialist and researcher, she most recently served as dean and executive vice president of Morehouse School of Medicine, where she has served since 2011.

Prior to joining Morehouse, Montgomery Rice held faculty positions and leadership roles at various health centers. Most notably, she was the founding director of the Center for Women’s Health Research at Meharry Medical College, one of the nation’s first research centers devoted to studying diseases that disproportionately impact women of color. Through membership and Board service, Montgomery Rice lends her experience to organizations that enhance pipeline opportunities for academically diverse learners, diversifies the physician and scientific workforce, and fosters equity in health care access and health outcomes. She is a former SWHR Board member and has received numerous accolades and honors.

A Georgia native, she holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a medical degree from Harvard Medical School, an honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Rush University. She completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University School of Medicine and her fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Hutzel Hospital.

Nora D. Volkow, MD
Health Public Service Visionary Award Winner
Nora D. Volkow, MD
Health Public Service Visionary Award Winner

Dr. Volkow is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Her scientific research was instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain, and her work at NIDA has promoted research that improves the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.

As NIDA director, Dr. Volkow has worked to create an inclusive environment for women researchers to thrive and championed research on biological sex differences. NIDA’s Women and Sex/Gender Differences Research Group works to support the careers of women scientists, as well as to promote conduct, translation, and dissemination of research on sex and gender differences in substance use disorders and responses to drugs of abuse.

As a research psychiatrist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic and addictive effects of abusable drugs. Her studies documented disruption of the dopamine system in addiction with its consequential functional impairment of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, executive function and self-regulation. She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity and ADHD.

Dr. Volkow has published more than 820 peer-reviewed articles, written more than 100 book chapters and non-peer-reviewed manuscripts, co-edited a Neuroscience Encyclopedia, and edited four books on neuroimaging for mental and addictive disorders.

Jill B. Becker, PhD
Health Education Visionary Award Winner
Jill B. Becker, PhD
Health Education Visionary Award Winner

Dr. Becker is the Biopsychology Area Chair, the Patricia Y. Gurin Collegiate Professor of Psychology, and Senior Research Professor in the Michigan Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan. For more than 30 years she has researched how sex and gender differences and ovarian hormones influence the brain and behavior, with a specific focus on drug addiction and motivation.

Dr. Becker has been a longtime supporter of SWHR. She served as a member of the SWHR Board of Directors and chaired SWHR’s Interdisciplinary Network on Sex, Gender, Drugs, and the Brain, which promoted research and education in the area of sex and gender differences in brain health and disease. She was also senior editor for the Network’s groundbreaking book, “Sex Differences in the Brain: From Genes to Behavior.”

A leader in the field of sex differences research, Dr. Becker was a founding member of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences, the only scientific membership society in the U.S. dedicated to promoting research on biological sex differences, and she has served on the Editorial Board of Biology of Sex Differences journal since its inception. Dr. Becker has dedicated significant time to the promotion, mentorship, and professional advancement of women in neuroscience and has been honored by the Society for Neuroscience and the University of Michigan for these efforts. She received her BA and MA in human development from the University of Kansas and her PhD in neuroscience from the University of Illinois, Urbana.

Diana W. Bianchi, MD
Health Public Service Visionary Award Winner
Diana W. Bianchi, MD
Health Public Service Visionary Award Winner

Dr. Bianchi is director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, where she oversees an annual budget of about $1.5 billion in support of NICHD’s mission to lead research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, enhance the lives of children and adolescents, and optimize abilities for all.

Dr. Bianchi received her MD from Stanford University School of Medicine and her postgraduate training in pediatrics, medical genetics and neonatal-perinatal medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Bianchi’s research focuses on prenatal genomics with the goal of advancing noninvasive prenatal DNA screening and diagnosis to develop new therapies for genetic disorders that can be administered prenatally.

She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a past president of the Perinatal Research Society and the International Society for Prenatal Diagnosis. She has served on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Human Genetics and on the Councils of the American Pediatric Society and Society for Pediatric Research. Dr. Bianchi has received multiple awards, including the 2015 Neonatal Landmark Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the 2016 Maureen Andrew Award for Mentorship from the Society for Pediatric Research, and the 2017 Colonel Harland Sanders Award for lifetime achievement in Medical Genetics from the March of Dimes. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam in 2020.

Charlotte D. Owens, MD, FACOG
Health Industry Visionary Award Winner
Charlotte D. Owens, MD, FACOG
Health Industry Visionary Award Winner

Dr. Owens is the Women’s Health Lead, U.S. Medical Affairs, at AbbVie. She is involved in the direction, planning, execution, and interpretation of clinical trials dedicated to delivering high-quality clinical data supporting overall product scientific and business strategy.

Dr. Owens is dedicated to ensuring all women have access to care and recently led late-stage clinical research on a new treatment option for symptomatic uterine fibroids that successfully recruited and retained nearly 800 women, including a significant number of African American women, a group typically underrepresented in research. Findings from this work were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This is the first FDA-approved non-surgical, oral medication to treat heavy menstrual bleeding associated with fibroids.

Dr. Owens’ parents passed down a belief that has guided her throughout her life — that we all have the responsibility to be of service to others. She has applied this principle in every aspect of her career, which has included clinical practice, television medical contributor, lead strategic health care consultant, and medical director in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry. For more than 20 years she has been involved in global efforts focused on improving health care and education for women in six of the seven continents.

Prior to joining AbbVie, Dr. Owens was an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, director of the Division of Industry Collaborative Research and chief medical officer for the Office of Translational Technologies at Morehouse School of Medicine. She is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and remains an adjunct clinical assistant professor at Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Owens received her bachelor’s in physiology from the University of California, Davis, and her MD from the University of Michigan Medical School.

Carolyn Clancy, MD
Health Public Service Visionary Award Winner
Carolyn Clancy, MD
Health Public Service Visionary Award Winner

Dr. Clancy has served as Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs since January 20, 2021. A highly experienced physician executive, she has held many leadership positions at the VA, including Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks; Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Executive- in-Charge; and VHA Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Organizational Excellence. She also served 10 years as the Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

In 2019, Dr. Clancy received SWHR’s Health Public Service Visionary Award for her work to enhance access to and quality of care for women veterans. In 2015, she was selected as the Outstanding Federal Executive of the Year by Disabled American Veterans.

Dr. Clancy, a general internist and health services researcher, is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She holds an academic appointment at George Washington University School of Medicine and serves as Senior Associate Editor for Health Services Research. She also served as member of the National Quality Forum Board of Directors, as the Chair of the AQA Alliance, and on the Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

John J. Seng
Health Communications Visionary Award Winner
John J. Seng
Health Communications Visionary Award Winner

A public relations veteran of nearly 40 years, Mr. Seng is a past SWHR Board member and a longtime supporter of the organization and its mission to eliminate imbalances in health care for women through science, policy, and education. A public relations veteran, he launched Spectrum Science Communications 22 years ago and led its development into a top-tier, award-winning health and life sciences communications firm. He also founded GLOBALHealthPR, the largest independent health and science communications agency partnership worldwide, and has earned numerous honors for his communications work.

Cen Xu, PhD
Health Industry Visionary Award Winner
Cen Xu, PhD
Health Industry Visionary Award Winner

Dr. Xu is the Executive Medical Director at Amgen and has more than 30 years of neuroscience research experience and more than 20 years in neuroscience drug discovery. She joined Amgen in 2016 as a key contributor in building the company’s neuroscience strategy.

Dr. Xu is a co-inventor for the first FDA-approved treatment designed to prevent migraine, which is three times more common in women than men and affects 18% of women in the U.S. In 2019, she received SWHR’s Health Industry Visionary Award for her work in discovering this treatment. Dr. Xu has also aided in the discovery and development of other therapeutics, including for schizophrenia and sleep disorders. Her focus areas include neurodegeneration, psychiatry disorders, migraine, and analgesia.

Dr. Xu obtained her PhD in pharmacology from Illinois State University and did her postdoc in University of Illinois College of Medicine. She was involved in basic research of drug abuse and neuropsychiatry for about 10 years before joining the industry. She also worked in a psychiatry institution for six years, with firsthand experience in patient interaction before entering the doctoral program.

Colleen Conway-Welch, PhD
Health Education Visionary Award Winner
Colleen Conway-Welch, PhD
Health Education Visionary Award Winner

During her 29 years as dean of the Vanderbilt University School of NursingDr. Colleen Conway-Welch shepherded an overhaul of school’s curriculum, including the introduction of an accelerated master’s program as well as PhD and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. She has served on the Board of the Society for Women’s Health Research, as well as on President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on the HIV Epidemic, the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Healthand the HHS Secretary’s Council on Public Health Preparedness, among many others. Most recently, she was recognized as a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing for her profound contributions to the nursing profession, health education and public policy. 

Christi Shaw
Health Industry Visionary Award Winner
Christi Shaw
Health Industry Visionary Award Winner

For three decades, Ms. Shaw has served as a valuable thought leader in the biopharmaceutical industry, exhibiting tireless dedication to the needs of patients. She has held positions of increasing influence and authority across the biopharmaceutical industry, including leadership positions at Lilly, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis. She is currently Senior Vice President and President of Lilly Bio-Medicines, leading Lilly’s broadest therapeutic portfolio. Shaw has served on the boards of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the Healthcare Leadership Council and the Young Women’s Leadership Network. In May 2016, Shaw received Eye for Pharma’s prestigious “Lifetime Achievement Award” for her industry thought leadership and dedication to the needs of patients. In 2017, Shaw founded the More Moments More Memories Foundation to assist people with cancer and their caregivers 

Janet Woodcock, MD
Health Public Service Visionary Award Winner
Janet Woodcock, MD
Health Public Service Visionary Award Winner

Since joining the Food and Drug Administration in 1986, Dr. Janet Woodcock has raised the standard of excellence in drug safety and patient care. She played a lead role in streamlining and ensuring transparency in the drug review process, helped to provide unprecedented opportunities for consumer and patient participation, as well as launched initiatives to improve drug safety management both within and outside the FDA. Dr. Woodcock has worked at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research since 1994. From 2005 to 2008, she served the FDA’s Commissioner, holding positions including Deputy Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, and Chief Operating OfficerBefore joining CDER, she served as Director of the Office of Therapeutics Research and Review and Acting Deputy Director in FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.