September 29, 2020

SWHR to Honor 3 Women Leaders in Science and Medicine at 30th Anniversary Event

By Liz Hay, SWHR Communications Intern

The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) will celebrate its 30th anniversary at its virtual annual awards dinner on October 22 and honor three women leaders who have significantly contributed to the advancement of women’s health.

“SWHR is committed to addressing health disparities, advancing health equity, and improving patient outcomes for women,” said SWHR President and CEO Kathryn Schubert, MPP. “As we celebrate our legacy of successfully advocating for the inclusion of women in research, we are dedicated to continuing our efforts to change the culture of medical research and society to make women’s health mainstream.”

Since its founding 30 years ago, SWHR has fought to bring attention to research gaps and unmet needs in women’s health, promote research on biological sex differences, and to advance its mission of improving women’s health through science, policy, and education.

Health Education Visionary Award Winner


Jill B. Becker, PhD

Biopsychology Area Chair, Patricia Y. Gurin Collegiate Professor of Psychology, and Senior Research Professor, Michigan Neuroscience Institute, University of Michigan

Dr. Becker is a longtime supporter of SWHR. She previously served on 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.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Becker has researched how sex and gender differences and ovarian hormones influence the brain and behavior, with a specific focus on drug addiction and motivation. She 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. She has also worked throughout her career to advance women in academia and research, including by advocating for and mentoring women researchers.

“Dr. Becker’s sustained dedication to SWHR has been invaluable for our efforts to promote the study of sex differences in brain health,” Schubert said. “She has devoted her career to advocating for the inclusion female animals in studies to ensure research is applicable to women, and she has fought for women to have the same rights as men in science and academia.”

Health Public Service Visionary Award Winner


Diana W. Bianchi, MD

Director, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

In her leadership role at NICHD, Dr. Bianchi works to advance the institute’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. Within the NIH, NICHD is one of the main institutes funding women’s health research and it also funds the majority of maternal health research.

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. Her crosscutting interests in both obstetrics and pediatrics resulted in her leading the creation of one of the first research centers in the nation to team up specialists in caring for women and infants. Bianchi is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a past president of the Perinatal Research Society and the International Society for Prenatal Diagnosis.

“Dr. Bianchi’s leadership of NICHD has been critical in many areas of women’s health, but most specifically around the inclusion of pregnant and lactating women in clinical research,” Schubert said. “Her visionary leadership of the NICHD has allowed for the inclusion of ‘women’ in NICHD’s mission and her own research around noninvasive prenatal testing and work to develop new prenatal treatments for genetic conditions has advanced maternal and fetal health.”

Health Industry Visionary Award Winner


Charlotte D. Owens, MD, FACOG

Women’s Health Lead, U.S. Medical Affairs, AbbVie

Dr. Owens 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 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. She 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.

Uterine fibroids are a significant public health issue affecting about 26 million American women, with Black women at increased risk for the disease compared to white women,” Schubert said. “Dr. Owens’ work to ensure that women with uterine fibroids have accessible, effective treatment options and that Black women are included in research for this disease is critical to advancing the field. We are thrilled to recognize her for her important and impactful work.”

Proceeds from the SWHR’s virtual awards event support SWHR’s science, policy, and education activities to further its vision to make women’s health mainstream.