BILH Celebrates 2024 International Day of Women in Science

February 26, 2024

Virtual Celebration of Women Scientists

Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH) marked the 2024 International Day of Women in Science by highlighting women’s valuable contributions to science and reaffirming BILH’s commitment to greater gender diversity and inclusivity in research and innovation. Hosted by Chief Academic Officer, Gyongyi Szabo, MD, PhD, the virtual celebration brought together more than 175 registered attendees, including established and early-career scientists from across the system to celebrate the accomplishments of the women scientists of Beth Israel Lahey Health research institutions.

“This day gives us an important opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the progress that women have made in the scientific and healthcare fields,” Szabo said in her welcoming remarks. “Even more important is for all of us to continue to support our fellow women researchers, physicians, educators, and caregivers. As we know, diversity brings strength, and the female perspective has proven essential to innovation, discovery, education, and improving care.”

“For BILH, inclusion isn’t just a moral imperative – it’s a strategic advantage,” said BILH President and CEO Kevin Tabb, MD. “Particularly in health care, research consistently shows that fostering diverse teams leads to better patient outcomes, more innovative solutions, and more effective delivery of care. By fully embracing the unique contributions of women in science, we foster a health care system that truly serves the diverse needs of people and communities we serve. To our women colleagues in science, thank you for being part of Beth Israel Lahey Health.”

The first half of the virtual event included presentations on groundbreaking research underway from BILH scientists including:

  • Jean Schaffer, MD, of Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine, presented on the well-known but still little-understood relationship between diabetes and heart failure.
  • Aarti Asnani, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Cardiology, discussed how cancer treatments are likely to affect the heart health of the millions of cancer survivors ages 75 and older.
  • Longtime collaborators Andrea McKee, MD, of Lahey Hospital and Medical Center and Assistant Professor and Radiation Oncologist, and Carey Thomson, MD, MPH, of Mount Auburn Hospital and Associate Professor and Pulmonologist, described their pioneering effort to increase lung cancer screening among at-risk women.

In the second part of the event, Szabo led an engaged panel featuring BILH leaders Susan Moffatt-Bruce, MD, PhD, President of LHMC and Professor of Surgery; Tamara Rozental, MD, hand surgeon at BIDMC and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery; and Yael Heher, MD, MPH, Chief Quality Officer at BILH and Associate Professor of Pathology, discussing how scientific careers can lay the foundation for serving in leadership roles. Each of the panelists was drawn into leadership through their focus on patient safety, quality of care, and health care delivery.

Relationship building—whether finding a mentor, being a mentor, or facilitating connections within a network of colleagues—emerged as one of the most frequently cited and helpful ways to prepare for a career in leadership positions, whether in a lab, a department, a hospital, or a system. Rozental said such relationship building formed the basis of the work she did at Drexel University’s well-regarded Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program, an intensive one-year program aimed at expanding the national pool of qualified women candidates for leadership in academic medicine.

The event concluded with the inspiring Celebrating Women in Science at BILH video featuring the diverse range of BILH women researchers, from fellows to full professors, and highlighting the strength of their collective endeavors.

About the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated each year on February 11th with the goal of recognizing the critical role women and girls have always played in science and technology and to promote gender equality in these fields. A reminder of the importance of ensuring equal access and participation for women and girls in science, education, research and innovation, the day also seeks to challenge stereotypes and biases that hinder women's advancement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines as well as to inspire and empower the next generation of female scientists.