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The Rockefeller University

In 2000, Dr. Paul Greengard, the Vincent Astor Professor at the Rockefeller University was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In honor of his mother, Pearl Meister Greengard, who died giving birth to him, he and his wife, the sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard, donated his entire monetary share of the Prize to the University to create a major international prize which recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding women scientists. Winners of the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize include Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider, and Vicki Lundblad, for their insight into cellular aging and cancer – over a year before the Drs. Blackburn and Greider were awarded the Nobel Prize.

While Dr. Greengard provided the initial impetus for this Prize, efforts by the Rockefeller University to recognize and support women in science span all career levels. The Women & Science (W&S) initiative was established in 1998 to highlight the crucial role of basic research in addressing scientific challenges related to women's health, showcase the contributions of women scientists, and create a program of support for women scientists. Educational opportunities for young women in Rockefeller's summer research programs for high school and college students, 59 graduate and 54 postdoctoral fellowships for outstanding women graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, the University Child and Family Center, and the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professorship for a senior woman scientist have all been funded by the W&S. Annual fall and spring breakfast programs as well as the Spring Lecture and Luncheon, which feature Rockefeller scientists and guest speakers on topics relevant to women's health, are hosted by the University President. Rockefeller has made recruiting women faculty a priority and has set up a special fund to offset the costs of enhanced recruitment efforts.

Today, 40 percent of Rockefeller’s 270 scientists—including research and clinical scientists, assistant and associate professors, and tenured senior professors—are women. In addition, W&S has encouraged many of its supporters to become more active with the University’s Board of Trustees and the Rockefeller University Council, thereby broadening the role of women in the governance and leadership of the University. Women now constitute one-third of the Rockefeller Board, three times the representation of women just twelve years ago. The University’s commitment to achieving greater gender balance on the Board of Trustees is an example of the importance of an institutional commitment to inclusion of women in leadership and according to materials provided by the Rockefeller University "has sent a powerful signal to potential new faculty that Rockefeller provides an environment conducive to participation—at the highest levels—by women."

The Rockefeller University Women & Science Initiative

The Pearl Meister Greengard Prize


This page last updated: December 18, 2014

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