November 2 Nov 2
8:00 AM - 2:15 PM
Saturday Sat

Women In Medicine & Science


Women in Medicine & Science 2019

Breaking Barriers

Thank you to all who were able to join us for a day of inspiration, education, and celebration of the remarkable achievements of Stanford women in medicine and the biosciences. We hope you enjoyed hearing from experts in their fields as they shared personal stories of breaking barriers in their fields and their personal journeys to becoming creative industry innovators, groundbreaking researches and scientists.

Photo Gallery - Coming Soon!

Keynote Speakers

Provost Persis Drell, PhD

Persis Drell  is provost at Stanford University, the James and Anna Marie Spilker Professor in the School of Engineering, a professor of materials science and engineering, and a professor of physics. Prior to her appointment as provost in February 2017, she was director of U.S. Department of Energy SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory from 2007 to 2012, and dean of the Stanford School of Engineering from 2014 to 2017. As dean, Persis placed an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. She particularly focused on increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM. Persis earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Wellesley College and her PhD in atomic physics from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining the Stanford faculty in 2002, she was a faculty member in the physics department at Cornell University for 14 years.

Phyllis Gardner, MD, Resident '80

Phyllis Gardner, MD, Resident ’80, is a professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Her expertise resides in medicine, pharmacology, and drug delivery systems, as well as corporate investing and governance. She has done research and clinical work in cell biology, gene therapy, and cardiology. For four years, she worked at ALZA Corporation as a principal scientist, vice president of research, and as head of ALZA Technology Institute. She serves on the board of directors of Revance Therapeutics and CohBar, as well as on the Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows and Advisory Council on Education, and the Cancer Program for Research and Innovation of Texas. She served as partner at Essex Woodlands Health Ventures from 1999–2015. Phyllis holds a BS degree from the University of Illinois and an MD from Harvard Medical School. She trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General, followed by a chief residency at Stanford and research fellowships at Columbia University and University College, London, U.K.


Dereca Blackmon, '91

Dereca Blackmon, ’91, is assistant vice provost and executive director of the Diversity and Inclusion Office at Stanford University. She is a passionate speaker, trainer, facilitator, and national expert on topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion. For more than 25 years she has consulted with a wide variety of corporate, educational, nonprofit, and community-based groups to facilitate “uncommon conversations” on issues of race, gender, class, and social justice. Her experiential training models cut through “diversity fatigue” and allow participants to engage in deep, authentic, and meaningful dialogues. She has introduced groundbreaking work on authentic engagement, intergroup dialogue, and first-generation and low-income student support services. She co-teaches Intergroup Communications with cultural psychology pioneer Hazel Markus, PhD, and also teaches the courses Solidarity and Racial Justice, and Advanced Facilitation Skills.

Julie Collier, PhD, PD '91

Julie Collier, PhD, PD ’91, is director of enterprise resilience and director of clinical pediatric ethics at Stanford Children’s Health. She is a psychologist and a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. For much of her 29 years at Packard Children’s Hospital she has worked with patients and families coping with chronic and life-threatening illness, in addition to co-chairing the Packard Bioethics Committee. Through her clinical work, and her work on the Ethics Committee, she came to fully appreciate the extraordinary challenges for clinicians caring for medically complex children and their families. Five years ago, she was given the opportunity to focus on developing resources to support the staff and providers in the organization, and was appointed director of enterprise resilience.

Odette Harris, MD '96, MPH

Odette Harris, MD ’96, MPH, is a professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, vice chair of diversity and director of brain injury in the Department of Neurosurgery. She manages the medical and surgical care of all patients suffering from traumatic brain injury who are admitted to Stanford Health Care. She is the deputy chief of staff of rehabilitation at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, which includes responsibilities for the varied programs of the Polytrauma System of Care, Spinal Cord Injury, Blind Rehabilitation Services, Recreational Therapy, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The programs hold regional and national oversight as part of a national infrastructure. Odette is also site director and principal investigator of the Defense Veterans and Brain Injury Center, one of five VA sites. Odette is a fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, a member of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and a fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Kelly M. Johnson, PhD, RN, NEA-BC

Kelly M. Johnson, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, is the vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer for Stanford Children’s Health/Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Kelly has been a hospital executive and chief nursing officer for more than 25 years. She has clinical experience in many roles, including family nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist. Her clinical focus was in the neurosciences, specifically working with individuals and families with traumatic spinal cord injuries. Kelly holds a BSN from the University of Northern Colorado, MSN from the University of California, San Francisco with specialization in Neuroscience (CNS) and Family Health (FNP), and a PhD from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, College of Nursing in Health Outcomes.

Nina Kjellson, '97

Nina Kjellson, ’97, is a general partner at the venture capital firm Canaan. She oversees investments in biopharmaceutical and digital health companies that aim to transform care for patients, especially in areas of underserved conditions. As a leader of Canaan’s Women of Venture program, Nina is a vocal advocate for women entrepreneurs and investors. She serves as a mentor to Blueprint Health, a digital health incubator and Springboard Life Sciences, an accelerator for health-care companies driven by women entrepreneurs. Prior to Canaan, Nina was a general partner at InterWest Partners, an investment manager at Bay City Capital, and a research associate at Oracle Partners, a health-care focused hedge fund. Nina began her career conducting health policy and survey research with the Kaiser Family Foundation. She received her BA in Human Biology from Stanford University in 1997.

Mary Leonard, MD '89, MSCE

Mary Leonard, MD ’89, MSCE, holds the Arline and Pete Harman Professorship for the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, and is the Adalyn Jay Physician-in-Chief of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and director of the Maternal and Child Health Research Institute. Mary has dedicated herself to leading a NIH-funded research program that attracts new trainees to clinical research, serves as a launching pad for junior investigators, and improves bone health, nutrition, and physical function in children and adults with chronic disease. As department chair, she has initiated programs that foster the development of women faculty in leadership positions in research, education, and advocacy, and that promote greater inclusion and engagement. As director of the Maternal and Child Health Research Institute, she has created partnerships with centers and institutes across the School of Medicine to mobilize Stanford discoveries and expertise to launch healthier lives through seed grants and career development programs.

Suzanne Pfeffer, PhD, PD '85

Suzanne Pfeffer, PhD, PD ’85, is the Emma Pfeiffer Merner Professor of Medical Sciences and professor of biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine. A biochemist and cell biologist, she studies the molecular basis of Parkinson’s and Niemann Pick Type C diseases. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley as an undergraduate and received her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). After postdoctoral work at UCSF and Stanford, she joined the Department of Biochemistry. She served as department chair for 14 years, is a past president of both the American Society for Cell Biology and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Society for Cell Biology.

Christy Sandborg, MD

Christy Sandborg, MD, is a professor of pediatrics in rheumatology and a physician executive at Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. With nearly 40 years in academic medicine, she has been an active translational and clinical researcher as well as a leader of clinical and research programs in her field. During the past 12 years she has increasingly focused on the work that the Children’s Hospital does in caring for the most complex and vulnerable children with chronic disease, to ensure the best global outcomes for our patients in this time of change in health care. She was recently appointed as the chief experience officer to focus on the intersection of the ideal patient and family-centered care experience and the well-being of our clinical care team—as this duality must be optimized to achieve the best outcomes and quality of life for everyone.

Leslee Subak, MD '91

Leslee Subak, MD ’91, is the Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine. An expert in urogynecology and pelvic surgery, she is principal investigator for federally funded research projects on epidemiology and developing novel treatments for urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain, and sexual function in women. This research focuses on studying the female bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor, and has involved multidisciplinary cooperation between basic and clinical investigators alongside experts in biostatistics and epidemiology. She is dedicated to building future leaders in women’s health with a focus on women and under-represented minority candidates. Leslee developed a distinguished career at UCSF, where she served as scientist, clinician, and educator. Upon her appointment to chair of OB/GYN, she returned to Stanford as the first openly LGBTQ+ departmental chair.