Skip Navigation

Public Affairs & Media Relations

October noteworthy month for Dean Etta Pisano

Staff Reports | News Center | November 12, 2013

Etta PisanoDr. Etta Pisano, dean of the College of Medicine, received funding for the Advance program and she received the
Dr. Helen Taussig Living Legacy Award.
Anne Thompson/Digital Imaging 

A handful of women scientists at The Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Medicine are making history as the first recipients from a medical school to receive funding by the National Science Foundation’s Advance program.

The principal investigator on the Advance (Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers) program is breast imaging pioneer and dean of the College of Medicine, Etta D. Pisano, M.D. October was a particularly noteworthy month for Pisano. In addition to receiving funding for the Advance program, Pisano also was presented the Dr. Helen Taussig Living Legacy Award for her groundbreaking work in breast cancer screening. See that story below.

Established in 2001, the Advance program seeks to not only substantially boost the number of women and others underrepresented in academic science and engineering, but also to improve the way they advance through their careers. The project, funded at the College of Medicine (COM), is titled ARROWS (Advancement, Recruitment and Retention of Women in Science), and will receive $650,000 over four years. Pisano and COM faculty including Ashli J. Sheidow, Ph.D. (psychiatry), Tamara Nowling, Ph.D. (medicine), Cristina Lopez, Ph.D. (psychiatry), and Rosalie Crouch, Ph.D. (ophthalmology) will implement the program.

The ARROWS project aims to increase the number of women in academic science and change the trajectory of women’s careers in a field that historically has been dominated by men serving in leadership positions. The team will put forth a package of practices and policies that specifically will benefit basic science women in the immediate environment of a single medical school. Hopefully, this approach also will serve to usher a culture of change within other medical schools across the U.S. by helping them recruit, retain and advance women scientists, including ethnic minority women.  

 Etta Pisano
Anne Thompson
 College of Medicine Dean Dr. Etta Pisano and SGA President Brandon Hagan won the Earl B. Higgins Achievement in Diversity Awards.

“We’ve come a long way. Women now lead medical schools and other big and important ventures. But, there aren't enough of us in leadership or in science. This NSF grant will help us develop methods to improve support for the careers of women in science at MUSC and other similar institutions,” Pisano said. “Women in STEM disciplines – which are science, technology, engineering and math, are finding it very challenging to succeed. ARROWS will be a step toward changing what's possible for women in science.”

Sheidow, ARROWS co-principal investigator, said medical schools employ a third of the nation’s academic scientists, and one quarter of medical school faculty are academic scientists. “Interestingly, more women scientists are employed at medical schools than men scientists. Women scientists in medical schools face unique challenges compared to scientists in traditional academic settings. This project is designed to target those challenges.”

Pisano honored for groundbreaking work in breast cancer screening

Etta Pisano, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine received the Dr. Helen Taussig Living Legacy Award for her groundbreaking work in breast cancer screening.

Pisano was among five honorees celebrated for their historic achievements at the Third Annual de Pizan Honors, held Oct. 9, at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the National Women’s History Museum, the awards honor those who have shaped history through their unique contributions. The honors are named in memory of Christine de Pizan, author of “The Book of the City of Ladies” that was written in 1405. De Pizan is recognized as the first woman to chronicle women’s achievements at a time when women appeared to have no documented place in history. Pisano joined Denyce Graves, a mezzo-soprano opera singer; Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior; Phylicia Rashad, a well-known entertainer; and Ken Burns, a documentary filmmaker as a 2013 Living Legend honoree.

“To be recognized for your life’s work with the Dr. Helen Taussig Living Legacy Award by an organization like the National Women’s History Museum is, to say the least, humbling. It serves as an inspiration as we continue to advance breast imaging research and it provides a moment to pause and recognize women pioneers in medicine like Dr. Taussig, who forever changed our place in this field,” Pisano said.

Pisano joined MUSC in July 2010. Her life’s work has focused on the development and testing of imaging technology for the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. She is widely known for serving as principal investigator of the largest clinical trial ever conducted by a radiologist. The Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial enrolled nearly 50,000 women in a study comparing digital to film mammography, the results of which were published in 2005 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A champion of diversity, mentoring and work-life balance, Pisano is a mother of four and one of only about approximately a dozen women medical school deans in the country. She is the first at MUSC.



Related Stories >>

MUSC names first-ever female College of Medicine dean

Faculty member, student honored for work in diversity

Medicine dean receives Living Legend honor

3-D Mammography Finds More Tumors, But Questions Remain

Related Sources >>

College of Medicine

National Science Foundation - ADVANCE

2013 de Pizan Honors

Dr. Etta Pisano


©  Medical University of South Carolina | Disclaimer