Power to Become: Women Scientists' Leadership in Global Health

On the 27th of April, the Weill Cornell Women in Global Health Research Initiative hosted a virtual symposium to highlight women scientists’ leadership by featuring three panelists: Professor Koleka Mlisana, Dr. Regine Douthard and Dr. Vanessa Rouzier. The symposium, a highlighted event during Weill Cornell’s third annual Diversity Week, was attended by over 110 people. Each panelist shared her professional journey, key lessons learned, and contributions to combatting COVID-19 in her respective country. During the event, panelist Dr. Vanessa Rouzier was awarded the Power to Become Award sponsored by SkinCeuitcals that recognized her contributions to science, further marking this as a special day for female leadership in science and global health.  

Professor Koleka Mlisana is the Executive manager of Academic Affairs, Research and Quality Assurance at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) in South Africa. She recently chaired the Pathology/Laboratory subcommittee of the first established advisory committee for COVID-19 in the South African Ministry of Health, which advises the ministry of health on the vaccination roll-out program and planning for the third potential COVID-19 wave. She encouraged attendees to never be scared to put their hand up to ask for help, to always be eager to learn, and work hard when given opportunities because they are rare!

Dr. Regine Douthard is a Senior Medical Officer at the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) at the NIH, which promotes women’s health research in the NIH scientific community, the inclusion of women and minority groups in clinical research, and career advancement among women in biomedicine. She talked about the impact of COVID-19 on women scientists in global health and expressed that the pandemic has exacerbated challenges that many women scientists already face, disproportionately forced women to juggle work, homeschooling, home responsibilities and caregiving, and contributed to the increase in gender gap in publication. She cited the NIH 2020 survey in which a majority of lab-based researchers stated that the pandemic would negatively impact their career trajectory and has lowered the overall productivity for a majority of scientists and described NIH initiatives to support these scientists. Throughout her career she learnt to be flexible and not to be afraid to try new things that could impact your career trajectory.

Dr. Vanessa Rouzier is the director of the Pediatrics Department at the GHESKIO center (the largest HIV/AIDS and TB Center in the Caribbean and Latin American region) in Haiti, and an assistant professor of pediatrics in Medicine in the Center for Global Health at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Rouzier voiced some of the challenges Haiti faced whilst combatting COVID-19 including enforcing social distancing in crowded slums where it was unrealistic, recommending handwashing and mask wearing in poverty-stricken communities where both these activities were a privilege and operating COVID-19 centers in neighborhoods in which fear and stigma surrounding COVID-19 was prevalent. Lastly, she stated that throughout her career she learnt to always “just keep swimming.”

The recording of the virtual symposium is available on our Women in Global Health Website

2021 Women in Global Health Virtual Conference Speakers

2021 Women in Global Health Virtual Conference Speakers 

Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Global Health 402 East 67th Street, 2nd Floor New York, NY 10065 Phone: (646) 962-8140 Fax: (646) 962-0285