Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr founded and is director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP), director of the Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiologic Research (CIDER), and a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. El-Sadr is a prominent researcher and has led numerous research studies that have furthered the understanding of the prevention and management of HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and non-communicable diseases.
Dr. El-Sadr is a member of the Technical Advisory Group on Tuberculosis for the World Health Organization and a board member for the Population Council. She has also served as a member of the Antiviral Advisory Committee for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Advisory Council for the Elimination of TB at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has recently focused her efforts on highlighting the continued impact of HIV in the United States, and is acting principal investigator for the Domestic Prevention Working Group within the NIH-funded HIV Prevention Trials Network.
Dr. Shelley Hwang is chief of breast surgery at the Duke Cancer Institute and has been named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people for 2016. One of the world’s foremost experts in early-stage breast cancers, Hwang has become an international leader for research to guide treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), in which abnormal cells are detected in the lining of a milk duct.
Dr. Hwang’s lab is also working to identify common biomarkers of cancer progression that in the future could lead to clues in preventing the disease. She also is currently leading a national study evaluating how an oral hormone blocker could treat women with low-risk DCIS that may be fueled by estrogen. She is also the principal investigator of the first large, national trial that will compare the benefits of surgery versus monitoring for patients with low-risk DCIS.
Dr. Laura Esserman is an internationally known surgeon and breast cancer oncology specialist, and Director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Esserman’s approach to individualizing patient care at every stage of cancer screening and treatment has made her a pioneer in the world of breast cancer research and treatment. In 1996, she started the Center of Excellence for Breast Cancer Care at UCSF to integrate clinical care and research.
Currently, Dr. Esserman is the principal investigator of the I-SPY TRIAL program, a multi-site neoadjuvant therapy clinical trial for patients with breast cancer. She has also recently launched a University of California-wide breast cancer initiative called the Athena Breast Health Network, designed to follow women from screening through treatment and outcomes, incorporating the latest in molecular testing and web-based tools into the course of care.
Dr. Fiona Wood is director of the Royal Perth Hospital burns unit and the Western Australia Burns Service, a clinical professor with the School of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Western Australia, and director of the McComb Research Foundation. She is a highly skilled plastic and reconstructive surgeon and world leading burns specialist, she has pioneered research and technology development in the field of burns medicine.
Dr. Wood has become well known for her patented invention of spray-on skin for burn victims along with co-founded with Marie Stoner, reducing previous techniques of skin culturing required from 21 days to five days to produce enough cells to cover major burns. This technology, commercialized through AvitaMedical is a world-first.
Dr. Pauline Chen is a liver transplant and liver cancer surgeon, and author of Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality. Through her practice as a transplant surgeon and her experiences of dealing with terminally ill patients, Dr. Chen came to understand that, commonly, doctors consider a patient’s death as a sign of imperfect care and thus a personal failure. She found that because doctors strive to combat their patients’ sicknesses, if the patient becomes terminal, doctors often do not adequately prepare their patients for inevitable death. This results in the majority of patients dying in a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit rather than at home with pain-management and peace. Dr. Chen wants to change this practice, in her book, she charts her personal quest to cope with death and dying in a medical system that is poorly equipped to deal with end-of-life issues.
Dr. Chen’s work has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, has written for a number of publications, including The Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Prevention Magazine. She also speaks regularly across the country about the changes that need to be made in the health care system.
Dr. Maria Siemionow is the Director of Plastic Surgery Research and Head of Microsurgical Training for Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Plastic Surgery. She gained world renowned recognition for her work as a transplantation surgeon when she led a team of eight surgeons through the world’s first near-total face transplantation at the Cleveland Clinic in 2008. Currently Professor of Orthopedics and Director of Microsurgery Research at The University of Illinois, she is regarded as a world leader in nerve regeneration enhancement and in developing minimal immunosuppression regimens following transplantation.
Dr. Wirginia Maixner is the director of neurosurgery at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. She is known for having performed the first auditory brainstem implant on a child in Australia in 2007, and later having separated twins conjoined at the skull in 2009.
This list is only a minuscule fraction of the female physicians doing groundbreaking medical work. There are still numerous women who need entries. Who an influential woman (or women) missing from the list? Add her to the comments below.