NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
May 15, 2007 • Volume 4 / Number 17 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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A Conversation with…Dr. Vivian Pinn

Dr. Vivian Pinn Dr. Vivian Pinn is associate director for Research on Women's Health and director of the Office of Research on Women's Health at NIH. In 2006, the National Academies Press released a report, Beyond Bias and Barriers, Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, which showed that women are underrepresented in these academic fields. In January 2007, NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni convened the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers to promote the advancement of women in research both at NIH and in the extramural research community. Dr. Pinn co-chairs the Working Group with Dr. Zerhouni.

How can the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers address concerns raised in the National Academies report?
The Working Group includes representatives from across NIH who are at various career levels: junior and more senior men and women scientists, even a married couple; a post-doc; and institute directors are among the members. Dr. Zerhouni has charged the Working Group to use our insight and creativity to identify factors that contribute to gender bias so that we can change the work culture at NIH and in the extramural community. Two factors identified as barriers in the National Academies report, for example, are the need for mentoring and childcare, so we have subcommittees that are dedicated to these areas, among others. And we will also look at private-sector models that have successfully addressed gender discrepancies in the workplace. Our hope is that these subcommittees will identify the issues that are affecting career advancement for women, identify NIH resources that can assist in overcoming such barriers, and provide recommendations for new programs or modifications of existing ones to address these issues.

What are the immediate goals of the Working Group?
We've established a Web site, Women in Biomedical Careers, where we list the names of the Working Group members, our subcommittees, and the resources related to careers of women in science that have been gathered so far from across NIH and from other organizations and individuals. As programs continue to be identified or implemented, they will be posted on this Web site. Beyond that, we are preparing an interim report for a meeting of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director in early June. The Working Group is preparing to have initial recommendations in place, or ready to implement, by that time. But June will not be the end of our efforts, as the Working Group plans to continue developing responses to the many challenges for women scientists both at NIH and in the extramural community.

How is your office participating in National Women's Health Week on the NIH campus?
This year our NIH theme is "Caring for the Caregiver: Women as the Portal to Family Health." We chose this theme because women are often the caregivers for an entire family, so by focusing on women, we're also focusing on men's health, elder health, and children's health. Our office is hosting an exhibit on the first floor of Building 31, in the A Wing lobby, which will include information and materials on women's health from across NIH. Additionally, in Conference Room 2 of Building 31 A Wing, we will hold several "Mid-Day for Me" workshops from 12:30-1:30 p.m., because it's time for women as caregivers to give care to themselves, too. Yesterday, Dee Walker, assistant chief of Investigative Services with the Montgomery County Police Department, gave a workshop on women's safety at work and at home. On Wednesday, Rebecca Dunlop, a fitness trainer with the NIH Recreation and Welfare Association, will lead a workshop on exercise and stress reduction at work. And Friday, Maureen Lesser, a nutritionist with the NIH Clinical Center, will lead a workshop on better nutrition at work and at home, as well as bone health. We may repeat these workshops if all who are interested in attending cannot be accommodated by the room.

To learn more about the Office of Research on Women's Health, go to Under the section ORWH Presents: Pinn Point on Women's Health, click on Listen to hear what Dr. Pinn and her guest NIH researchers have to say about current topics in women's health. If you need further assistance on how to use podcasts, go to