MD Anderson Honors Two Champions for Women in Medicine and Research

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Laurie Glimcher, MD

Thomas Burke, MD

Elizabeth Travis, PhD

Ronald DePinho, MD

Two champions of gender equality in medicine and research were recently honored by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Laurie Glimcher, MD, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College and Provost for Medical Affairs of Cornell University since 2012, received the 2014 Margaret L. Kripke Legend Award. She spoke about endoplasmic reticulum stressors in disease.

Thomas Burke, MD, Executive Vice President of MD Anderson Cancer Network, was honored with the President’s Leadership Award for Advancing Women Faculty. His remarks addressed gender inclusiveness.

Noted Immunologist, Advocate

Dr. Glimcher joined Weill Cornell from Harvard, where she was one of the first women professors awarded tenure. She is a renowned immunologist. Her primary research interests are molecular pathways that regulate CD4 T helper cell development and activation, work that has led to important advancements in understanding immune function.

As President of the American Association of Immunologists, she founded the Primary Caregivers Technical Assistance Programs, known as the Glimcher Initiative, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The program, which she also helped establish at Harvard, supports postdoctoral women scientists with child care responsibilities by providing additional funds for laboratory assistance. Under Dr. Glimcher’s leadership, Weill Cornell opened an onsite child care center last year.

“I am thrilled and deeply humbled to be the 2014 recipient of the Margaret L. Kripke Legend Award,” Dr. Glimcher said. “I’ve dedicated my career to supporting and recognizing women physicians and scientists so they can not only succeed, but go farther than they ever thought they could. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in nurturing women leaders in the biomedical sciences and excited for what we can accomplish in the future.”

The Kripke Award recognizes a person who has made significant contributions to the advancement and promotion of women in cancer medicine and cancer science. It was established in 2008 by Women Faculty Programs to honor Professor Emerita Margaret L. Kripke, PhD, for her unwavering advocacy for and promotion of women in academic medicine and science.

“This is the second year in a row the Kripke Legend Award is being made to a woman who is dean of a major U.S. medical school,” said Elizabeth Travis, PhD, MD Anderson associate vice president of Women Faculty Programs. “Laurie Glimcher is one of the 23 women who have reached the highest level of leadership in academic medicine. She is an outstanding cancer medicine researcher and teacher, as well as a longstanding advocate of women, and we are thrilled to have her as the awardee.”

Ensuring Equal Opportunities

Dr. Burke joined the faculty of MD Anderson in 1988 and was appointed Professor in 1998. In 2007, he was named Executive Vice President and Physician-in-Chief, an appointment he held through 2013 when he was named Executive Vice President, MD Anderson Cancer Network.

As the physician in charge of clinical operations, Dr. Burke used his position to identify and promote women faculty to medical director positions. He has mentored many woman faculty, created opportunities, and helped prepare women for leadership positions through special assignments. Dr. Burke is a practicing gynecologic oncology surgeon whose clinical and research work focuses on vulvar and endometrial cancers.

“I have benefited from the wisdom and guidance of many wonderful mentors throughout my education and career,” Burke said. “Several of them were talented women. I am thrilled to be recognized for fostering the professional development of friends and colleagues over the past 25 years at MD Anderson.”

The President’s Leadership Award for Advancing Women Faculty was initiated last year to recognize the contributions of an MD Anderson faculty member who has had a significant impact on the career advancement of women faculty. Recipients provide vision and leadership to address practices that inadvertently disadvantage women faculty and serve as change agents by creating an environment where women can flourish and advance to leadership positions.

“I am delighted to honor and recognize two individuals who advocate above and beyond the expected for the career advancement of women faculty,” said Ronald DePinho, MD, President of MD Anderson. “Recipients of both awards are chosen based on demonstrating, through their words and actions, a deep personal and professional commitment to this value.” ■