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 leaders who have significantly advanced women’s health throughout their careers.
Join us for the 34rd Annual Awards Gala, April 25, 2024
Join supporters of SWHR as we gather in-person for SWHR’s 2024 Annual Awards Gala on Thursday, April 25, 2024 This event will honor leaders who have significantly advanced women’s health throughout their careers.
SWHR is excited to announce that our Annual Awards Gala will be held in the newly renovated National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA). After being shuttered for over two years, NMWA recently reopened to the public.
The SWHR 2024 Annual Awards Gala is going to be one hot ticket! A limited amount of new pre and onsite Gala sponsorships are available – first come, first served! View and download the 2024 sponsorship prospectus here or Contact Development Director Julie Miller at email@example.com for information on sponsorships and tickets.
See photos from the 2023 Annual Awards Gala
Thank you to all the supporters of SWHR who gathered in-person, together for SWHR’s 2023 Annual Awards Gala on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 to honor leaders from the FDA, the University of Illinois Chicago Center for Research on Women and Gender, and Horizon Therapeutics. Check out photos and highlights from the evening here.
View highlights from the 2022 Annual Awards Gala
SWHR gathered in-person on April 28, 2022 to honored leaders from the Centers for Disease Control, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Pfizer for their work for women’s advancement in science and medicine. Learn more online here.
Read about the 2021 Annual Awards Gala
SWHR gathered together virtually on April 29, 2021 to honor three women who have devoted their careers to women’s advancement in science and medicine, through work at Eli Lilly, the Morehouse School of Medicine, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Read more here.
Kaveeta P. Vasisht, MD, PharmD
Kaveeta Vasisht MD, PharmD, is the Associate Commissioner for Women’s Health at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She directs the FDA Office of Women’s Health (OWH), which serves to protect and advance the health of women through scientific programs, policy development, research, education, stakeholder collaboration, and outreach.
Dr. Vasisht leads efforts to advance regulatory science through understanding sex differences, promoting the inclusion of women and diversity in clinical trials, and establishing women’s health research priorities at FDA. Under her leadership OWH recently developed the Knowledge and News on Women’s Health Initiative, bringing broader awareness to conditions that not only impact women, but also highlighting how health conditions can affect women differently. In addition, she leads efforts to bridge important knowledge gaps on medication use in pregnancy and lactation.
Dr. Vasisht and OWH have received numerous FDA awards in recognition of their contributions.
Prior to her current role, she served as a Deputy Director in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) Office of Medical Policy and has extensive expertise in leading regulatory policy development.
She also provided clinical expertise on multidisciplinary teams in the review and evaluation of scientific data to make regulatory decisions on the safety and effectiveness of therapeutics during her tenure in CDER’s Office of New Drugs.
Dr. Vasisht is board-certified in both internal medicine and adult endocrinology. She completed her internal medicine and endocrinology fellowship training at the University of Chicago Hospitals, where she also served on the faculty. She also holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Rutgers College of Pharmacy where she graduated from the Honors Research Program.
Pauline M. Maki, PhD
Dr. Pauline M. Maki leads a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded research program on women, cognition, mood, and dementia, with a particular focus on menopause. In her work, Dr. Maki utilizes multiple research methods, including clinical trials of hormonal and non-hormonal treatments for menopausal symptoms, cohort studies of the natural history of cognition and brain function across the menopausal transition, and neuroimaging studies. She also serves as Senior Director of Research at the University of Illinois Chicago Center for Research on Women and Gender.
Dr. Maki is Past President of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), current Trustee of the International Menopause Society, Past Chair of the Society for Women’s Health Research Interdisciplinary Network on Alzheimer’s Disease, and Immediate Past Head of the Neurocognitive Working Group of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study.
Keli Walbert joined Horizon in 2018 and has more than 25 years of pharmaceutical and health care industry experience primarily focused on building integrated marketing teams and leading medicine launches. She previously led the U.S. commercial organization, overseeing the infused medicines portfolio, including the Horizon launches of TEPEZZA and UPLIZNA, life-cycle management and consumer and digital marketing. She currently leads Horizon’s strategic and corporate marketing.
Before joining Horizon, Walbert was with AbbVie where she led the consumer, advocacy and patient services functions as well as the overall launch of a drug-device combination product, DUOPA. Before AbbVie, she built and led the consumer organization at Abbott (now AbbVie) for the launch of HUMIRA. Walbert also held senior marketing and advertising leadership roles at the American Medical Association (AMA) and Draft Worldwide (now FCB), a global advertising agency.
Walbert has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Louisville and a master’s degree in marketing communications from Northwestern University.
Wanda Barfield, MD, MPH, FAAP
Wanda Barfield, MD, MPH, FAAP, is Director of the Division of Reproductive Health (DRH) within the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is a retired Assistant Surgeon General in the U.S. Public Health Service.
As DRH Director, Dr. Barfield leads efforts to provide optimal and equitable health to women, infants, and families through improved surveillance and applied public health research during the critical junctures of population health– pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence. Through building and strengthening strategic partnerships with multiple organizations, her division currently leads several activities to monitor: maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity; infant mortality and morbidity due to SIDS/SUID and preterm birth; the impact of emerging threats among pregnant/postpartum women and their infants (opioids, disasters, COVID-19); and women’s reproductive health issues ranging from contraception and teen/unintended pregnancy, to infertility and assisted reproductive technology.
She received her medical and public health degrees from Harvard University, completed a pediatrics residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and a neonatal-perinatal medicine fellowship at Harvard. Dr. Barfield is a Professor of Pediatrics, at the Uniformed Services University. She continues to provide clinical care to premature and other critically ill newborns.
Sudip S. Parikh, PhD
Sudip Parikh, Ph.D., became the 19th chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of the Science family of journals in January 2020. Dr. Parikh has spent two decades at the nexus of science, policy, and business.
Immediately prior to joining AAAS, Dr. Parikh was senior vice president and managing director at DIA Global, a neutral, multidisciplinary organization bringing together regulators, industry, academia, patients, and other stakeholders interested in healthcare product development. He led strategy in the Americas and oversaw DIA programs that catalyzed progress globally toward novel regulatory frameworks for advanced therapies not amenable to existing regulations.
Prior to DIA, Dr. Parikh was general manager of the Health and Consumer Solutions business unit and vice president at Battelle, a multibillion-dollar research and development organization. He led a $150 million business unit with over 500 scientific, technical, and computing experts performing basic and applied research, developing medicines and healthcare devices, and creating advanced analytics and artificial intelligence applications to improve human health. Previously, Dr. Parikh led Battelle’s global AgriFood business unit. Headquartered in London and Geneva, this unit provided environmental fate research and agriculture product development services from laboratories throughout Europe and the United States.
From 2001 to 2009, Dr. Parikh served as science advisor and professional staff to the United States Senate Appropriations Committee, where he was responsible for negotiating budgets for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and other scientific and health agencies. A key legislative liaison to the research and development ecosystem, Dr. Parikh was on the frontlines of many science policy issues debated during that time, including embryonic stem cell research, cloning, disease surveillance, bioterrorism, cyber security, and doubling the NIH budget.
An active member of the scientific advocacy community, Dr. Parikh serves as a board member and officer for several impactful organizations, including Research!America, Friends of Cancer Research, and ACT for NIH. He has received multiple public service awards, including recognition from the American Association of Immunologists, the National AIDS Alliance, the Coalition for Health Services Research, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Dr. Parikh is committed to early STEM education and, as a parent of three energetic young children, he prioritizes volunteering as a mentor for Science Olympiad teams at two elementary schools.
Early in his career, Dr. Parikh was a Presidential Management Intern at the NIH. He was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship while earning his Ph.D. in macromolecular structure and chemistry from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. There, he used structural biology and biochemistry techniques to probe the mechanisms of DNA repair enzymes bound to DNA. The son of Indian immigrants who worked in the textile and furniture manufacturing plants of North Carolina, Dr. Parikh completed undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, first as a journalism major before switching into materials science.
Judy Sewards serves as Vice President, Head of Clinical Trial Experience for Pfizer’s Global Product Development organization. In this role, she leads cross functional teams in the creation and activation of new communications and services to build trusted relationships with investigator site partners and deliver a convenient and comfortable experience for clinical trial participants. She played a critical role on the COVID-19 vaccine operations team stewarding all investigator site and trial volunteer communications for the study, including overall recruitment efforts, and building awareness of and educating on the importance of participation within diverse communities. Prior to this, Sewards was Vice President, Head of Digital Strategy and Data Innovation responsible for setting and activating new digital and big data strategies to help Pfizer meet business and customer needs in the future health landscape. She has been with Pfizer over 10 years and has held a variety of leadership roles across marketing and innovation.
Before joining Pfizer, Sewards led insights, brand strategy and advertising for Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management. Her other diverse experiences range from tech start-up to advertising and management consulting. Sewards received her bachelor’s degree from Smith College, where she also served as a member of the Board of Trustees.
Lotus Mallbris, MD, PhD
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
During her 29 years as dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Dr. 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 Health, and 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.
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
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 Officer. Before 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.