June 13, 2008

Trio tabbed as ‘Women to Watch’ in medicine

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Honored by Nashville Medical News are, from left, Meg Rush, M.D., Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., and Lynn Matrisian, Ph.D. (photo by Neil Brake)

Trio tabbed as ‘Women to Watch’ in medicine

Each year Nashville Medical News, a local health care publication, honors 10 health care professionals as “Women to Watch” in the medical field.

For the first time, VMC women captured three of the coveted spots. Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Lynn Matrisian, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Cancer Biology, and Meg Rush, M.D., chief of staff for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt were selected for the honor.

“The women in the Class of '08 are intensely passionate about their respective fields,” said Cindy Sanders, editor of Nashville Medical News. “Whether it’s stopping cancer in its tracks, giving a child the chance to thrive, reaching out to the underserved, providing solace and support to the worried families of patients, striving for parity among mental and physical health options, or training young physicians, these health care leaders turn barriers to care into the stepping stones of innovation.”

Those selected were nominated by someone in the health care community.

“I know far too many people who have suffered from cancer,” said Pietenpol. “While we've made great progress, one in two men and one in three women will develop cancer. That's a huge motivator.”

In addition to directing the operations of the Cancer Center, Pietenpol continues to oversee her research lab with a focus on difficult-to-treat forms of breast cancer.

Matrisian recently helped lead a committee of researchers affiliated with the National Cancer Institute (NCI). That group developed 15 recommendations to accelerate the transfer of research discoveries from the lab to patient care. She has since been appointed by the NCI to implement these recommendations and is dividing her time between Vanderbilt-Ingram and the NCI in Bethesda, Md.

“It has been taking entirely too long to translate the basic biological discoveries we uncover in the laboratory into meaningful treatment options for patients,” explained Matrisian.

“I am trying to help set up a system that will streamline this process and make a meaningful difference in patient care.”

Rush fell in love with health care as a teenager. Her father challenged her to attend medical school and to become a role model for balance between personal and professional life. In addition to her role as a physician leader of Children's Hospital, she continues to provide clinical care in the Neonatal Intensive Care nursery and to mentor young physicians and health care professionals.

“I am blessed to work with some of the best pediatric subspecialists in the country,” said Rush. “We have an amazingly dedicated staff of professionals who all share one goal — making a difference in the lives of children.”