Women of Medical Valor

Dr. Rena D’Souza
Dr. Lindsey Criswell

While this year has generally not been known for its kindness to most, August 2020 has been a friend to women. (No, Kamala, this blog is not about you, as unfortunately I pride myself on never mixing politics with pleasure aka medicine. Suffice to say, “well done.”) During this past month, two brilliant and talented women were promoted to prominent positions within the National Institutes of Health where they will be able to further lead, inspire, and heal. Worthy of note is that August is also the month when we celebrate Women’s Equality Day which commemorates August 18, 1920, the day when Congress ratified the iconic 19th amendment which granted women the right to vote. Coincidence? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Allow me to introduce you to these two women. Rena N. D’Souza, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., has been chosen to serve as director of NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), which she plans on joining later this year. A licensed dentist, Dr. D’Souza is currently the assistant vice president for academic affairs and education for health sciences at the University of Utah, where she also serves as a professor. She has conducted research in craniofacial development, genetics, tooth development, and regenerative dental medicine. She has published 140 peer-reviewed journal papers and medical book chapters. She is also an exemplary role model of kindness as she has provided volunteer dentistry services to people in need. As a recipient of more dental procedures than I would like to keep track of, I can confidently attest to the value of her research and contributions. Massive thank you.

Our next female noteworthy of celebration is Lindsey A. Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc., who has been chosen to direct NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). A rheumatologist, Dr. Criswell is currently the vice chancellor of research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She is a professor of rheumatology in UCSF’s Department of Medicine. She has been published in more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles about genetics and epidemiology of autoimmune diseases, specifically on systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Thank you, Dr. D’Souza and Dr. Criswell, for leaning in and daring to ask through your actions, “What glass ceiling?” Watching you succeed from the sidelines makes me sorta kinda wonder what am I doing, sitting at an outdoor cafe on a beautiful August afternoon, writing about your achievements? How can I be more like you, and how can I help the masses on the grandest scale possible? For now, I will suffice with the following answer: I am promoting the fact that women can accomplish tremendous heights. They can exert sweat and toil (hopefully minus the blood and tears), and they can perform and produce professionally as well as (if not better than) any man. And by doing so, I hope to inspire more women to follow in your footsteps. So while I did not entitle this blog “You Go Girls” out of respect to these two fantastic females, I will conclude with, thank you for the inspiration and keep up the good work.