MCW Cancer Center Celebrates the Advancement of Women Scientists

Woman looking at microscopeMCW’s Center for Advancement of Women in Science and Medicine recently celebrated a historic milestone as it honored a record-breaking 25 women being promoted to the rank of full professor within the institution. Eight of the newly appointed professors are members of the Cancer Center, each of them bringing unique perspectives, experiences, and insights that are critical for advancing cancer research and improving health in our community.

Congratulations to the newly appointed professors:

  • Meena Bedi, MD, MS, Cancer Control Program
  • Michele Battle, PhD, Cancer Biology Program
  • Lisa Sánchez-Johnsen, PhD, MS, Cancer Control Program
  • Razelle Kurzrock, MD, FACP, Discovery & Developmental Therapeutics Program
  • Vera Tarakanova, PhD, Cancer Biology Program
  • Kirsten Beyer, PhD, MPH, MS, Cancer Control Program
  • Nikki Johnston, PhD, Cancer Biology Program
  • Francesca Marassi, PhD, Cancer Biology Program

This achievement marks the highest number of women promoted to professor in a single academic year, further solidifying MCW’s commitment to gender equality and diversity in medical academia. It also means that the total number of women professors at MCW has surpassed 250 and is above the national average, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Lisa Sánchez-Johnsen, PhD, MS, associate director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (EDIB) and newly appointed professor in the Institute for Health & Equity and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, said that by strengthening its representation of women, the Cancer Center is harnessing the full potential of its scientific community to make a difference across the cancer continuum.

“We should all admire the women scientists that are playing a pivotal role in advancing our knowledge of cancer. Their diverse perspectives, leadership, and contributions to interdisciplinary collaboration are vital to developing new treatments, improving prevention and early detection methods, and ultimately reducing the impact of cancer in our community and across the globe,” she said.

In the new Office of EDIB, Dr. Sánchez-Johnsen is developing initiatives to ensure the Cancer Center is cultivating an inclusive environment that supports everyone to thrive in the health sciences. In August, the Office began hosting monthly Talk Story/Plática/Chat Sessions, informal gatherings that cover a wide range of topics, including personal experiences, family histories, cultural traditions, and more. These sessions aim to promote inclusivity and belonging by providing a space for all individuals working in the Cancer Center to share their voice. In the coming weeks and months, the Office will launch a series of professional development and training resources to support women and underrepresented leaders, members, and staff.

“By integrating EDIB into all we do, we are working toward eliminating cancer disparities, driving impactful research, improving patient outcomes, and fostering a more supportive and welcoming environment for individuals affected by cancer and those who work in our Cancer Center,” said Dr. Sánchez-Johnsen.