The Society for Women’s Health Research celebrated advancements in women’s health and honored three remarkable women for their contributions to the field on Tuesday night at SWHR’s 28th Annual Awards Dinner. (See photo gallery at bottom of post.)
“Once a year, we gather together to celebrate extraordinary achievements and all of the hard work that you have done to serve our joint mission,” SWHR President and CEO Amy M. Miller told the audience.
The three awards recognized each recipient’s significant influence in improving women’s health:
- Health Public Service Visionary Award: Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Health Industry Visionary Award: Ms. Christi Shaw, Eli Lilly Senior Vice President and President of Lilly Biomedicines
- Health Education Visionary Award: Dr. Colleen Conway-Welch, Dean Emerita, Vanderbilt University Schooling of Nursing
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb took the stage to praise Woodcock for her 30+ years of noteworthy work at the FDA and present her award. Gottlieb said Woodcock has left a firm imprint on his FDA experience, noting that she hasn’t been shy to share her opinion with him.
“I think I can say if I hadn’t had her guidance along the way … I would have crashed on some rock a long time ago,” he said.
During her time at FDA, Woodcock has raised the standard of excellence in drug safety and patient care. She has also played a lead role in improving the drug review process, including making it more open and transparent, while also creating unprecedented opportunities for patient participation and improving drug safety management within and outside the FDA.
SWHR Board of Directors Chair Dr. Roberta Gartside presented the award to Shaw for her service as a valuable thought leader in the biopharmaceutical industry for three decades, during which time she has exhibited tireless dedication to the needs of patients.
Shaw shared the story of her mother and her sister battling cancer, which spurred her and another sister to found the More Moments More Memories Foundation to provide people with cancer access to the critical treatment innovations they need.
“When I look at the end of my career, what I would love my legacy to be is that I cared for patients and that I instilled in others that the most important thing that you can do, the most important decisions you make, if they are focused on the patients, you will do much better,” Shaw said.
Dr. Patricia Grady, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research, presented the award to Conway-Welch for her longtime dedication to health education and women’s health. Conway-Welch transformed the Vanderbilt School of Nursing into one of the top advanced practice nursing programs in the country during her 29 years as dean. In addition, she is an American Academy of Nursing Living Legend for her profound contributions to the nursing profession.
“To make a difference, you have to take risks, and I’ve been relatively successful in taking risks,” Conway-Welch said. She has also been a longtime supporter of SWHR and served on the organization’s Board of Directors.
Proceeds from the annual event will benefit the SWHR’s science, advocacy, and education programs, which ensure that women’s health remains a national priority.
“The Society for Women’s Health Research has a strong legacy of changing systems to improve women’s health and will continue to do so,” Miller said.
SWHR’s science programs explore and support new discoveries in the biological differences between women and men, which can help improve human health and correct imbalances in care for women, Miller explained.
“Our vision is for the Society for Women’s Health Research to be a central convener of all of the stakeholders who can influence the future of health policy, systemic change, and the research to support it,” she said. “We will highlight health disparities that exist today and work to end them. At SWHR, science drives policy, because policy drives change.”
Award-winning journalist Leon Harris, who anchors News4 at 4 for NBC4 in Washington, served as emcee for the awards dinner again this year after his successful appearance in 2017.
SWHR thanks the event sponsors, including Benefactor-level sponsor Eli Lilly and Co. and Gold-level sponsors AbbVie, Amgen, Astellas, Pfizer, and Dr. Mary Lake Polan and Frank Bennack Jr.