Without women in the health sciences, medicine today would look very different. From Rosalind Franklin who produced the first X-ray image of DNA to Françoise Barré-Sinoussi’s role in identifying HIV as the cause of AIDS, medicine owes many discoveries to female innovators. The first graduating class from the University of Alberta’s School of Medicine in 1925 had one female graduate, Leone McGregor. Now, women are a key part of the Faculty and are building a stronger future.
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
This year’s theme is “Be Bold for Change.” Our UAlberta students and professors are certainly bold. These women are pushing the boundaries and making a huge difference on campus and in our community. They are going above and beyond to provide better care for their patients, to build inclusive learning environments for their students and to engage the broad community to address the most pressing health concerns of our time and the future.
● Sangita Sharma
After seeing much of the world, Sangita Sharma came to Edmonton to improve the health of vulnerable populations. The goal of Sharma’s research is to document risk factors for chronic diseases and barriers to accessing health care, including screening services, for Canada’s Indigenous populations and new Canadians adapting to living in Canada. Sharma is the Endowed Chair in Indigenous Health at the University of Alberta, Centennial Professor, and Professor in Indigenous and Global Health Research in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.
● Sandra Davidge
In 2016 the Women’s and and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI) received a historic donation (the largest in the U of A’s history) of $54.5 million dollars. With that funding, the institute will improve health research for women and children, groups that are often underrepresented in health research.
At the helm of this amazing institute is Sandra Davidge. In addition to being the director of WCHRI, Davidge is a professor in the departments of obstetrics, gynecology and physiology. She holds a prestigious Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in maternal and perinatal cardiovascular health.
● Julianna Deutscher
Third-year medical student Julianna Deutscher is being recognized nationally for her social justice work. She was the recipient of the 2016 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Award for the University of Alberta.
Deutscher has championed numerous causes, including advocating for victims of human trafficking as the youngest board member of the Magdalene House Society, completing a global health project in rural Peru, leading Indigenous health initiatives and LGBTQ health advocacy projects.
● Barbara Ballermann
Barbara Ballermann is a professor in the Division of Nephrology and chair of the Department of Medicine. Being the chair of FoMD’s largest department is no easy task. Ballermann’s lifelong passion for science and basic research has led her to many discoveries and her research continues today. She was the first person to propagate kidney cells called glomerular endothelial cells in tissue culture. She also takes a special interest in training the next generation of scientists who will one day make their own discoveries.
● Jessica Luc
Jessica Luc does it all. The third-year medical student has been heavily involved in research and volunteering throughout her education. Her research collaborators include the Mayo Clinic, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, University of Sydney and The Collaborative Research Group.
Luc hosts the Humanism in Medicine Film Festival. She established a temporary boutique for homeless youth and hosted a Fashion Show for All Sizes to bring awareness to the prevention of eating disorders. She was also an ASTech Award nominee in 2016.
These are just a few of the great stories about the women in our Faculty making a difference. Visit https://www.ualberta.ca/medicine/news for up-to-date stories on the breakthroughs and accomplishments of all of our staff, faculty and learners.