February 12, 2024

SWHR Announces 2024 Honorees for Women’s Health Visionary Awards in Advance of Annual Awards Gala 

Monday, February 12, 2024 – The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) will honor three leaders for their contributions to advancing women’s health at its 2024 Annual Awards Gala on Thursday, April 25, 2024. SWHR will recognize Janine Austin Clayton, MD, FARVO, Maria Shriver, and Shontelle Dodson, PharmD for their commitment to improving women’s health. These leaders will be honored for their development of a policy requiring scientists to consider sex as a biological variable; their unwavering advocacy for women’s health and Alzheimer’s disease research; and their service as an industry leader and to SWHR through service on the Board of Directors, respectively.  

SWHR will present a Women’s Health Visionary Award to Dr. Janine Austin Clayton for her work in public service. Dr. Clayton in the Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health and Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the architect of the NIH policy requiring scientists to consider sex as a biological variable across the research spectrum. This policy is part of NIH’s initiative to enhance reproducibility through rigor and transparency. As co-chair of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers with the NIH Director, Clayton also leads NIH’s efforts to advance women in science careers. In 2021, Clayton was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Prior to joining the ORWH, Dr. Clayton was the Deputy Clinical Director of the National Eye Institute (NEI) for seven years. A board-certified ophthalmologist, Clayton’s research interests include autoimmune ocular diseases and the role of sex and gender in health and disease. She is the author of more than 120 scientific publications, journal articles, and book chapters. Clayton has received numerous awards, including the American Medical Women’s Association Lila A. Wallis Women’s Health Award and the Wenger Award for Excellence in Public Service in 2015. Clayton was granted the Bernadine Healy Award for Visionary Leadership in Women’s Health in 2016. She was also selected as an honoree for the Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards and the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Awards for Outstanding Government Service in 2017. Clayton is a native Washingtonian and received her undergraduate degree with honors from Johns Hopkins University and her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine. She completed a residency in ophthalmology at the Medical College of Virginia. Clayton completed fellowship training in cornea and external disease at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital and in uveitis and ocular immunology at NEI. SWHR has closely worked with Clayton and ORWH for decades and was an advocate of the implementation of the NIH Policy on Sex as a Biological Variable, which was spearheaded by Clayton. SWHR is also currently the administrative home for the Friends of the Office of Research on Women’s Health, a coalition of organizations that support the critical mission of the ORWH. 

SWHR will present a Women’s Health Visionary Award to Maria Shriver for her unwavering work and advocacy across women’s health. Shriver is a mother of four, a grandmother, an Emmy, Gracie, and Peabody award-winning journalist and storyteller, a seven-time New York Times best-selling author, an NBC News Special Anchor, founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and a strategic advisor on women’s health and Alzheimer’s disease at the Cleveland Clinic. She is also the founder of Shriver Media and co-founder of the mission-driven brain health and wellness brand, MOSH. Shriver uses her voice and her platforms to advance some of our nation’s most pressing issues affecting women and women’s health. Most recently, her efforts helped lead to the President signing the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research in November 2023, but her leadership in women’s health began long before that. In 2010, she broke new ground when, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s reported for the first time publicly that women are at an increased risk for the disease. Shriver went on to receive the first-ever Alzheimer’s Association Lifetime Achievement Award for a lifetime of activism and leadership. Today, the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM) at Cleveland Clinic is the preeminent organization funding gender-based Alzheimer’s research —with a mission to educate women and their families about the disproportionate impact the disease has on them. Shriver also worked tirelessly on behalf of women and families, particularly those living on the brink of poverty, during her time as First Lady of California from 2003-2010. In 2016, Shriver was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, which she conceived of and brought to life during her time as First Lady. Shriver is also the recipient of the Best Buddies Spirit of Leadership Award for her life-long advocacy on behalf of those with intellectual disabilities. Shriver’s life and career are driven by her fervent belief that everyone can be an “Architect of Change” and make the world a better place. She oversees projects for her media company Shriver Media; her digital platform, The Sunday Paper; and her book imprint, The Open Field, which she launched in 2021 at Penguin Random House. For the second year this spring, SWHR partnered with Shriver, WAM, and the Cleveland Clinic to host the “Power of Research” luncheon to increase Alzheimer’s disease awareness. The Society is also supportive of Shriver’s efforts to prioritize women’s health research throughout the federal government.  

SWHR will present a Women’s Health Visionary Award to Shontelle Dodson, PharmD, for her role as an industry leader in women’s health. Dr. Dodson is Executive Vice President and Head of Medical Affairs globally at Astellas Pharma, Inc., responsible for leading Astellas’ Medical Affairs activities for late-stage development and marketed products across all therapeutic and focus areas. Previously, Dodson served as Senior Vice President of the Medical Specialties Business Unit. In this role, she led US commercial activities for marketed products in the urology, anti-infectives and hospital business units. Dodson joined Astellas in 2012 in Medical Affairs, and during her tenure has expanded the Health Economics & Outcomes Research function and pioneered multiple, innovative real world data projects, including the creation of two national registries and innovative research partnerships with leading managed care and academic organizations. She also led the Medical Specialties Commercial organization through an extensive restructuring while preparing for the launch of a novel new treatment option for women. She started her career in direct patient care at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and previously worked at Pfizer, Inc. and GTx, Inc. in various medical affairs leadership roles. Dodson has tirelessly dedicated the majority of her career to helping women, whether through building the next generation of female leaders, helping to make taboo topics in women’s health mainstream, or helping women live healthier lives. She has received multiple awards for leadership and innovation, including the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Rising Star and Astellas Vision Award. Dodson served on the board of directors of the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) for the past seven years, where she helped to communicate the value of medicines and advocate for a personalized approach to patient care, and is a current board member and the immediate Past Board Chair for the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR). Dodson holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Mercer University College of Pharmacy and completed her postdoctoral residency at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. 

SWHR supporters will gather in person for the 2024 Annual Awards Gala to celebrate the achievements of Dr. Clayton, Shriver, and Dodson as well as hear remarks from other women’s health leaders about the bright future ahead of us within the women’s health research space. The event will be held on April 25, 2024, at the newly opened National Museum of Women in the Arts, with a reception beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET and dinner following at 7:00 p.m. ET.  

SWHR is thrilled to host this year’s Annual Awards Gala at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the first museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts. NMWA advocates for better representation of women artists and serves as a vital center for thought leadership, community engagement, and social change. NMWA addresses the gender imbalance in the presentation of art by bringing to light important women artists of the past while promoting great women artists working today. NMWA’s collections feature more than 6,000 works from the 16th century to today, created by more than 1,500 artists. During SWHR’s Annual Awards Gala reception guests will have access to portions of the museum’s permanent collection. 

Sponsorships and tickets are available. Information about both can be found here. Funds raised from the event will support SWHR’s science, policy, and educational initiatives. For additional information about the Annual Awards Gala, please contact Development Director Julie Miller at julie[at]swhr.org.  



About SWHR  

The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) is a national nonprofit and thought leader dedicated to advancing women’s health through science, policy, and education while promoting research on sex differences to optimize women’s health. Founded in 1990 by a group of physicians, medical researchers, and health advocates, SWHR is making women’s health mainstream by addressing unmet needs and research gaps in women’s health. Thanks to SWHR’s efforts, women are now routinely included in most major medical research studies and more scientists are considering sex as a biological variable in their research. Visit www.swhr.org for more information.