See also WSA site at

In 1991, Dr. Bernadine Healy, Director of NIH, established a Task Force to examine the status of intramural women scientists. The Task Force, which included about 15 intramural scientists and was chaired by Dr. Hynda Kleinman, issued a final report in November 1992. Among the recommendations was that each IC should have a Woman Scientist Advisor (WSA) (see attached). These recommendations were unanimously approved by the Scientific Directors at their meeting of November 4, 1992.

The WSA should (preferably) be a senior woman scientist of high standing who is familiar with the NIH.

Each WSA is elected by the women scientists of her IC and serves a two-year term. A WSA can be elected for a second two-year term, but may not serve for more than a total of two terms. The IC women scientists can decide to elect an alternate, or a WSA-elect, to serve as back-up. The Scientific Directors approved the following procedure for selection of WSAs at their meeting of February 3, 1993:

  1. Nomination of the WSA will be the result of an open election by both tenured and non-tenured women scientists in the intramural program of that IC. At the option of the Scientific Director, one or more names will be recommended from the elected candidates. The Scientific Director will appoint the WSA.

  2. In the case where the pool of intramural women scientists is too small from a given IC, WSA candidates can be directly recommended from a committee meeting of the women scientists, and the WSA selected by the Scientific Director.

Elections should be held in either April or October, so that brief orientations can be held for new WSAs in May/November.

Duties and Activities

  1. Hold regular meetings with her Scientific Director in order to advise him/her about issues relevant to women scientists. Attend Lab/Branch Chief meetings to serve as a representative of women scientists.

  2. Inform the Institute's women scientists on issues which will affect them (ie, tenure track and staff scientist policy decisions) and solicit their opinions.

  3. Organize meetings for the women scientists, to discuss issues of general concern, or to present programs of general interest.

  4. Serve, or designate an alternate woman scientist (from her own IC, another IC, or even from the extramural community) to serve, on tenure-track, tenured scientist, or lab/branch chief IC search committees.
    Detailed instructions on how searches are handled are available at
  5. Attend WSA committee meetings (approx. every 2 months) where issues of concern to all NIH women scientists are discussed. Examples include:
  6. Subcommittees may be established to deal with specific issues, such as monitoring resource allocations, awards, or handling arrangements for the Pittman lecture.
    A list of awards is available at


  7. The Anita B. Roberts Lecture Series: "Distinguished Women Scientists at NIH."
    This series highlights outstanding research achievements of women scientists at the NIH. The seminar is dedicated to Dr. Anita Roberts and honors her role as an exceptional mentor and scientist.

    Anita joined the NIH in 1976 and spent 30 years at NCI, rising to Chief of the Laboratory of Cell Regulation and Carcinogenesis. She died of gastric cancer in May 2006, leaving a legacy that touched both the professional and personal lives of all who knew her. Her work focused primarily on TGF-beta and its role in the growth of epithelial and lymphoid cells. In 2003, Thomas Scientific's Science Watch listed her among the 50 most-cited scientists during 1982 to 2002, a feature called "Twenty Years of Citation Superstars."

    Anita was a superstar to many for her mentoring talent and her ability to balance family and work life. Her successful lab was well known for meeting family needs and for providing an environment both intellectually and emotionally enriching. The lecture series in her name serves to highlight the fact that the NIH recognizes the value and necessity of a supportive workplace.

    October 26, 2006
    Genomic Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease
    Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., Director, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and Chief, Vascular Biology and Genomics Section, National Human Genome Research Institute

    April 12, 2007
    The Many Guises and Disguises of Follicular Lymphoma
    Elaine Jaffe, M.D., Head, Hematology Section; Acting Chief of Pathology, National Cancer Institute

    October 23, 2007
    Why Is It So Hard for the Addict's Brain to Say No?
    Nora Volkow, M.D., Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse

    March 4, 2008
    Stress Adaptation vis Regulatory RNAs
    Susan Gottesman, Ph.D., Chief, Biochemical Genetics Section, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, NCI/CCR

    October 30, 2008
    Emerging Fluorescence Technology for the Analysis of Protein Localization and Organelle Dynamics
    Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, Ph.D., Chief, Section on Organelle Biology, Cell Biology & Metabolism Branch

    April 16, 2009
    The Pandemic Threat of Avian Influenza Viruses
    Kanta Subbarao, M.B., Chief, Emerging Respiratory Viruses Section, Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, NIAID

    October 15, 2009
    Host Defense Gone Awry: From Inflammation to Cancer
    Sharon Wahl, Ph.D., Chief, Cellular and Clinical Immunology Section, Oral Infection and Immunity branchÊ, NIDCR

    March 15, 2010
    Brain Development in Healthy, Hyperactive and Psychotic Children
    Judith Rapoport, M.D., Chief, Child Psychiatry Branch, NIMH

    October 28, 2010
    Integrating T Cell Signals
    Pamela Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D., Head Cell Signaling Section, Genetic Disease Research Branch, NHGRI

    April 29, 2011
    The Shape of Things: Complex Genetics in the Domestic Dog
    Elaine Ostrander, Ph.D. Chief and Senior Investigator, Cancer Genetics Branch, NHGRI

    October 27, 2011
    Chromatin Regulation of Innate Immunity
    Keiko Ozato, Ph.D. Chief, Section on Molecular Genetics of Immunity, NICHD

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Revised: 7/17/2007