Introducing the New President: TERESA K. WOODRUFF, PhD
The Endocrine Society is pleased to welcome its president for 2013–2014, Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD, who took office June 19. Woodruff is a leading expert in reproductive endocrinology and vice chair for research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She coined the term “oncofertility” to describe her work researching female reproductive health and infertility and translating her findings to the clinical care of women who will lose their fertility due to cancer treatments. She has co-edited three books on the subject, detailing everything from procedural guidelines and best practices to the ethical, religious, economical, and legal implications of preserving fertility in cancer patients.
She also advocates for gender specificity in clinical trials in order to reach a better understanding of the effects that medicine has on women, and she founded the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University to develop programs to better serve women’s health. She has served on The Endocrine Society Council and has been recognized nationally, receiving numerous awards and honors for her work.
Woodruff succeeds William F. Young Jr. MD, MSc, as the Society continues its rotation of presidents who represent its core constituencies: basic researchers, clinical researchers, and clinical practitioners. “It was a tremendous honor to be selected by my peers to lead this organization for a short period of time,” she says. “As volunteer members, we all contribute to the health of our field, and I look forward to serving with the leadership and committee members.”
Woodruff joined The Endocrine Society 25 years ago, influenced by her mentors at Northwestern University, Kelly Mayo and Neena Schwartz, who also both served as presidents of the Society. “I’m somewhat homozygous for the endocrine science phenotype,” she says.
One of her first experiences as a Society member was in New Orleans in 1988, where she admits she was a little star struck, presenting a paper on the cloning of the subunits for the hormone inhibin and showing how they were regulated during the reproductive cycle of the rodent “in front of a packed room of endocrinology super luminaries — folks that I had read about but never met.”
She says she was inspired by Society members almost immediately, discovering new avenues and concepts in member impact and value. “My first committee was on membership,” she recalls. “Gwen Childs was the chair [of the Membership Committee] and a real activist. I imprinted on her way of thinking outside the box.”
Now that she’s something of a super luminary herself, Woodruff plans to inspire Society members in the coming year, describing her goals of developing a new look for the Society, including a new logo that “refreshes the way we present ourselves to the world,” as well as creating a tagline “that has momentum and expresses our goals and our values.”
But it’s not just about aesthetics; she plans to introduce even more tangible member benefits, including new awards categories that reward members for their achievements, accelerating the careers of the newest society members, and creating a new program called “Leap” that represents the most innovative science and the best scientists in endocrinology. “Reward, Accelerate, Leap,” Woodruff says, “our bold new awards program that increases the visibility of people and ideas.”
Woodruff hopes these fresh approaches translate to new tactics and implementation plans for tackling the “grand global challenges” in endocrinology, including the colliding epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the increasing health risks of endocrine disruptors, the fulcrum between global population expansion and personal reproductive needs, and the support of endocrine science in a low-no- resource environment.
“We have to be a society about solutions,” she says. “We have to invest in next-generation innovators and advocate for them with funding agencies and governments around the globe.”
—Derek Bagley is associate editor of Endocrine News