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2017-18 Leader-in-Residence: Vivian W. Pinn, M.D.

Senior Scientist Emerita, National Institutes of Health; Founding Director (Retired), Office of Research on Women's Health, NIH

Vivian W. Pinn, M.D., was the first full-time director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was associate director for research on women’s health (NIH), positions she held from 1991 until her retirement in 2011. During that time, she established and co-chaired the NIH Committee on Women in Biomedical Careers with the NIH Director. Since her retirement, she has been named as a senior scientist emerita at the NIH Fogarty International Center. She came to the NIH from Howard University College of Medicine, where she had been professor and chair of the Department of Pathology since 1982, the third  woman in the United States to hold such an appointment. Dr. Pinn had previously held teaching appointments at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University, where she was also assistant dean for student affairs. A special tribute by Senator Olympia Snowe on Dr. Pinn’s retirement was published in the Congressional Record in November 2011, commending her contributions during her NIH tenure. The Association of American Medical Colleges also awarded her a Special Recognition Award for exceptional leadership over a forty-year career. She has received numerous honors and recognitions and has presented her perceptions of women’s health and sex/gender research, minority and women’s health and health disparities, as well as challenges in biomedical careers, to audiences both nationally and internationally. Her implementation of the congressional mandate to include women and minorities in clinical research funded by the NIH continues to be an effort that she champions. She has long been a vocal advocate for women and minorities in biomedical science careers.

She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the IOM) in 1995. A graduate and Alumna Achievement Award recipient, as well as former trustee, of Wellesley College, she earned her M.D. from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, the only woman or minority in her class. She completed her post-graduate training in pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Pinn has received 14 honorary degrees of science, law, and medicine, and the University of Virginia School of Medicine has named one of its four advisory medical student colleges “The Pinn College” in her honor. Tufts University School of Medicine in 2011 announced the “The Vivian W. Pinn Office of Student Affairs,” named for her at the time her former medical students dedicated a scholarship in her name. In 2005, Dr. Pinn became the first African American woman to give the University Commencement Address at the University of Virginia. She has held leadership positions in many professional organizations, including president of the National Medical Association, and is currently chair of the NMA Past Presidents Council. Dr. Pinn currently serves on the Board of Trustees/Advisors of Thomas Jefferson University and Tufts University School of Medicine, and is a member of the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine of the National Academies. She was recently elected to Modern Healthcare’s Hall of Fame, the first African American woman to be so honored, and received the Outstanding Woman Leader in Healthcare Award from the University of Michigan. Lectures in women’s health and/or health disparities named for her have been established at the National Institutes of Health, the Women’s Health Congress, the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and the National Medical Association. Her most recent and humbling honor has been the announcement by the University of Virginia in the fall of 2016 that the main medical education building will be renamed for her. And in December 2016, the UVA medical school announced the inaugural Pinn Scholars program to support and recognize mid-level faculty in efforts to take their research in novel directions. Her oral history is included in the National Library of Medicine’s exhibit on women physicians: “Changing the Face of Medicine;” in the University of Virginia’s project “Explorations in Black Leadership,” conducted by Julian Bond; and in The HistoryMakers collection, which is now housed in the Library of Congress.