The Society for Women’s Health Research announced the hiring of Dr. Melissa Laitner as SWHR’s new Director of Science Policy. Laitner will envision, direct, and implement creative science programs and policy activities designed to improve women’s experiences in health care.
Laitner will coordinate with relevant policymakers, stakeholders, and patient advocacy coalitions on SWHR’s science policy agenda. She will act as the policy liaison within a targeted portfolio of women’s health and science-specific issues, including legislative and regulatory activity related to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Prior to joining SWHR, Laitner worked as a health policy fellow in the office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). Her fellowship year was supported by the American Psychological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In Bennet’s office, Laitner covered a wide-ranging portfolio, with an emphasis on matters related to FDA, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, prescription drugs, mental health, and topics relevant to health care transparency, costs, and coverage. She worked on legislation recently included in the Senate bipartisan prescription drug package as well as the bipartisan health care costs package.
Before her fellowship, Laitner worked for six years at an academic medical center while obtaining her doctorate in clinical health psychology and a master’s degree in public health. Her research focused on behavioral management of chronic health diseases in rural populations. Clinically, her work targeted low-income and indigent populations facing acute and chronic medical conditions, including chronic pain, cancer, and organ/stem cell transplant. She remains a licensed clinical psychologist in the District of Columbia and recently spent eight months as a volunteer domestic violence liaison with the District’s Metropolitan Police Department. She is an active member of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Behavioral Medicine.
Laitner received her PhD in 2017 and her MPH in 2016 from the University of Florida, where she also completed her clinical internship and a clinical postdoctoral fellowship. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina.