National Institutes of Health Women Scientist Advisors Committee
Within-Institute WSA Activities 

Below are just a few examples of recent activities within their institutes, by which WSAers have bettered the lives of NIH women. This list is by no means comprehensive, and is provided as examples only.




NCI-WSA responsibilities at NCI Intramural Annual Retreat include organizing a career development luncheon, sponsoring the NCI Rosalind E. Franklin Award Lecture for Women in Cancer Research, and awarding the annual Women Scientist Advisors mentoring and leadership awards for NCI senior investigators. The theme of this year’s luncheon (Jan 2012) was "Focusing Your Science and Promoting Your Career: Steps to Make Your Career More Productive." Nearly 200 NCI researchers, male and female, attended. NCI Cancer Bulletin article. Other NCI-WSA activities include hosting lectures with outside eminent female speakers, and organizing brown bag lunches with these speakers that are open to anyone who wants to attend. During these informal lunchtime discussion, the guest usually will be asked to provide pointers on how she got to her current position.




The NEI Women Scientist Advisor provides forums to communicate and discuss issues of interest to women scientists in an effort to maintain a quality scientific work environment. Issues discussed at each monthly trans-NIH WSA meeting are communicated to all staff attending the NEI Scientific Director’s monthly Lab/Branch Chief meeting and are also disseminated to all women PIs whose role it is to share with other women (staff scientists, staff clinicians, fellows, and students) in their research teams. Groups of women scientists meet regularly to discuss various topics pertinent to their professional activities, including scientific exchange and networking, professional development and training, mentoring, family and work/life, personnel issues, and administrative relations.




NHLBI WSA had a meeting of all NHLBI Senior Women Scientist (tenure and tenure track) in January 2012. At the meeting they discussed issues of concern to NHLBI Women Scientist. As a follow-up for the Tenure-track panel discussion, the NHLBI-WSA organized a workshop (for all tenure track scientists) on the tenure process in March 2012. This workshop included the chair of the NHLBI Promotion and Tenure Committee and the current and former members of NIH Central Tenure committee. The WSArep met with the NHLBI SD to discuss issues, include enhancing recruitment of women scientists. They have an informal NHLBI Women scientist get together scheduled for May 24th.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is large and has two major sites of intramural research: the Bethesda campus, and the Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Montana. Presently, there are two representatives on the NIH WSA Committee from NIAID. The NIAID-WSAs have served in two primary capacities to the women scientists of the institute, in addition to attending and participating in the WSA committee meetings and initiatives.  One role has been the dissemination of information such as the announcement of Anita B. Roberts seminars, links to organizations/events of interest, and a call for applications for the WSA scholar award. The second role has been to represent the interests of NIAID women scientists by attending the NIAID Lab Chief’s meetings and insuring that a woman representative is on all NIAID search committees for tenured and leadership positions in the institute. In regard to information dissemination of the NIAID Lab Chief’s meetings, all members of the institute are provided with minutes of the meeting by the SD’s office. Two organized events focusing on women scientists have been accomplished in the last two years. The first was a visit to RML by one of the WSA reps accompanied with Dr. Joan Schwartz to discuss issues concerning women scientists at RML. The second was the NIAID “Lessons in Leadership” workshop that brought together senior NIAID women scientists in the NIH “Women in Science” book and junior NIAID scientists. This this workshop promoted interaction among scientists and fellows, facilitated discussion of experiences and lessons learned, and created opportunities to foster career success for NIAID’s trainees. One of our WSA reps was on a WSA subcommittee that met with Building 1 to discuss salary equity among women scientists at NIH.  The subcommittee was informed that there is now little, if any, disparity in salaries between men and women scientists at the NIH.



The mission of the NIA (National Institute on Aging) WSA is to foster achievement and support career development among women scientists. To do this, they host a variety of events each year. NIA-WSA holds an annual Winter Tea to promote communication between women scientists from different laboratories and to discuss ways the WSA can serve the scientific community. They sponsor annual Achievement Awards for Excellence in Scientific Research. These competitive, highly distinguished awards are given to a Senior Scientist, Staff Scientist and Postdoctoral Fellow each year. They also sponsor a ‘Successful Women in Science’ series, where informal discussions are held with incoming women seminar speakers. These speakers share information and advice on success at all stages of career development from a woman’s prospective. The NIDA Postdoctoral Woman Scientist Achievement Award was named the Dr. Toni Shippenberg Woman Scientist Achievement Award.



NIMH-WSA A Summary of NIMH WSA activities (2011-2012).

After meeting with the NIMH junior and senior women to discuss needs and issues regarding women in the NIMH IRP, NIMH-WSA reps planned and implemented the following events: 1) a brown bag lunch for junior and senior women highlighting NIH resources that might benefit women; 2) a meeting of senior NIMH women to discuss recruitment of NIMH SD; 3) a lecture by Prof. Barbara Sahakian (Univ. Cambridge, UK) on work/life balance; 4) a presentation by Dr. Nancy Desmond, Assoc. Dir., Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science, NIMH: “Planning ahead: tips for transition to tenure track”; 5) a presentation by Dr. Karen Berman about women in professional organizations followed by discussion (When to join?  What’s the point?). The next NIMH-WSA planned event is a brown bag lunch for junior women scientists about networking to establish relationships with “scientific aunts and uncles” i.e., senior scientists in your field who are not your primary mentor. NIMH-WSA reps have also requested a meeting with the Acting SD of the Institute to review resource allocation by gender within the NIMH IRP. NIMH-WSA reps have been available to advise female faculty members who have questions or concerns about BSC reviews, the tenure process, or resource allocation. NIMH-WSA reps plan to continue to organize brown bag lunches for junior and senior women, both as a forum for discussion of specific topics and as purely social occasions.




This past year NLM women scientists in partnership with the NLM-WSA rep, were successful in nominating a WALs speaker (Bonnie Berger). They also wrote together and competed for a women-strong research festival mini-symposium: Computational approaches to study protein interactome in context of disease). The WSA rep organized an outreach mini-symposium/mentoring panel to the UMBC Meyerhoff program, herself and two other NLM/NCBI women scientists each presented a 15 min science talk around a theme (Bioinformatics and Computational Biology), followed by a panel “What it is like to be a woman in science at NIH”, followed by cookies and punch with the students. The NLM-WSA rep disseminates information to the entire intramural NLM staff list serve (men and women), answers questions on new NIH-family friendly programs-such as the new NIH child care back up program, and recruits men and women via the list serve for WSA NIH-wide activities, posts key seminars by email and posts flyers by the elevators on each floor. The NLM WSA rep regularly attends senior LHC staff meetings, serves on search committees, and communicates on a regular basis with the NCBI leadership on WSA issues.  
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