Women in Science and Engineering

young girl in a science lab, teacher with female pupils building robotic vehicle in science lesson, young female engineer working on robotics project, and female professor taking questions after lecture in college classroom


NIBIB is celebrating the exceptional work of women grantees. The global science community has recognized that a gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has existed for many years. In the past fifteen years there has been an ongoing effort to promote and inspire women and girls to participate in STEM fields. Research has indicated that gender inequality is partially due to unsupportive cultures that negatively impact the advancement of a woman’s career.  As a result, women are underrepresented across the United States at the tenure-track faculty, tenured faculty, and leadership levels. The NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, is committed to creating a supportive environment for all genders in the biomedicine workforce. In 2016, Dr. Collins formed a Gender Inequality Action Task Force (TF) to develop recommendations/actions for NIH to address these concerns. NIBIB is committed to supporting women grantees and recognizes the impact their research contributions have made on the NIBIB community. Learn about the career journeys and research endeavors of a selection of these outstanding women researchers below.


Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Ph.D.

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, PhD

Professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University engineers and builds tissues to improve health and cure disease. She is one of the most cited scientists of all time.

Read Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic's biography, learn more about how she builds a heart and watch her video on tissue engineering.

"My advice for women is to be persistent and stubborn when necessary. Never think small, always think big – it's transformative."


Quyen Nguyen, Ph.D.

Quyen Nguyen, MD, PhD

Quyen Nguyen, M.D., Ph.D., is professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of California at San Diego, where she creates molecules that make nerves or tumors glow during surgery.

Read Dr. Nguyen's biography, listen to her T.E.D. talk with over one million views, and watch her research on the video about color-coded surgery on NIBIB's Surgery of the Future app.

"As the mother of three girls, I see how important it is to support interest in science for young girls. Don't think others are better at something you want to pursue - remember why it matters to you."



Charlotte Gaydos, Dr. P.H., M.P.H.

Dr. Charlotte Gaydos

Professor in the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Gaydos develops technologies that bring care to the patient rather than take care to the patient. She has been a part of 42 FDA clinical trials.

Read Dr. Gaydos' biography and learn how she is bringing care to her patients faster.

"We've proven we are equal to men. Many universities are progressive and providing equal opportunities to women and men. The future for women in science is bright."



Carla Pugh, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Carla Pugh

Dr. Carla Pugh is a professor of surgery at Stanford University and an expert on the use of sensors and motion trackers for measuring medical training performance. She received the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Read Dr. Pugh’s biography, read about her sensors, and watch her T.E.D. talk.

"Try not to focus on the negative too much. Do not ever give up. Apply for that grant you did not get the first round. Always keep making progress and moving forward."