Trailblazing Researcher to Bring Philosophy of Mentorship to Women’s Forum

A trailblazing physician-scientist known for her mentorship of fellow researchers and whose work was instrumental in the discovery of paradigm-shifting understanding about cell plasticity will offer career insights and inspiration at the Women’s Forum at the ATS 2024 International Conference alongside the presentation of the Elizabeth Rich Award and an introduction to the ATS/MECOR Leadership Program in Africa. 

Zea Borok, MD, ATSF
Zea Borok, MD, ATSF

As the featured speaker, Zea Borok, MD, ATSF, will share her experiences as a woman and a leader in medicine. 

“This forum is an opportunity to promote the work of women in our field. There still remain gaps in gender equity across many different platforms, and the Women’s Forum was created to specifically elevate the work that women are doing within the field across all of its missions — education, clinical work, and research,” said Meshell Johnson, MD, chair of the ATS Membership Committee. “Dr. Borok exemplifies someone who has proven to be an exceptional mentor, leader, researcher, and administrator, and we hope that by sharing her story, others will be empowered and inspired to find ways in their careers to thrive.”

The annual event will take place from 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. PT on Monday, May 20, at the Seaport Tower at the Grand Hyatt San Diego. It is organized and presented by the ATS Membership Committee and will be hosted by Dr. Johnson and Vice Chair Alexandra Noel, PhD. There is a $30 registration fee to attend.

“I would encourage anyone who is interested in elevating the work of women, mentoring women, and developing networks to empower women to become their best selves in all the areas in which they work to come to the forum,” Dr. Johnson said. “Equity is everyone’s job. It’s not just the work of women or not just the work of people who are underrepresented or have been historically excluded. Equity is the work of everyone. That’s how it gets done.”

Dr. Borok is the Helen M. Ranney professor of medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Previously, she served as the Ralph Edgington Chair in Medicine, division chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine, and the Hastings Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, which she joined in 1990 as an instructor. Dr. Borok also served as the director of the Fellowship Training Program in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine (2000-2013) and established a Center for Gender Equity in Medicine and Science, of which she was the inaugural director.

“Helping other people be successful is something I am trying to bring to this role as chair,” she said of her position at UCSD in a 2023 interview with ATS Conference News. “It has been an important part of my ATS career, as well. The ATS has been my scientific home, and a lot of what I’ve accomplished is due to my ATS family and the opportunities afforded by the ATS.”

Her contributions to the ATS have been extensive. Dr. Borok has held several leadership roles, including chair of the Program Committee, chair of the Assembly on Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, and chair of the International Conference Committee. She has also served on other RCMB Assembly and ATS committees, including the Awards Committee. Her contributions to the field and the Society were recognized with her selection as the 2023 J. Burns Amberson Lecturer at that year’s International Conference. 

Throughout her career, Dr. Borok has prioritized mentoring, advising, and supporting her colleagues at all stages of their careers. She said she is particularly aware of the challenges facing female faculty members and focuses her time mentoring and sponsoring other female scientists seeking career advancement within their fields of research.

The focus of Dr. Borok’s laboratory is on alveolar epithelial cell biology and plasticity in the context of lung injury repair and fibrosis.

In 2017, Dr. Borok was recognized for her contributions to pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, and as a mentor with the ATS Elizabeth Rich Award. 

Stephanie Davis, MD, ATSF
Stephanie Davis, MD, ATSF

Elizabeth Rich Award

Stephanie Davis, MD, ATSF, the 2024 recipient of the Elizabeth A. Rich Award, will also give remarks during the Women’s Forum. The honor is presented to an outstanding woman in the ATS who has made significant contributions to respiratory medicine.

Dr. Davis is the Edward C. Curnen, Jr. Distinguished Professor and chair of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and the Physician in Chief for UNC Children’s. Her NIH-funded research focuses on elucidating early lung disease through sensitive endpoints and biomarkers, specifically in cystic fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), and chronic lung disease related to prematurity.

Since 2019, Dr. Davis has served as the contact principal investigator for the NCATS- and NHLBI-funded Genetic Disorders of Mucociliary Clearance Consortium. For over 20 years, this consortium has worked closely with the PCD Foundation to increase the recognition of the PCD phenotype, describe genotype-phenotype relationships, and improve understanding of this rare disease.

Dr. Davis is passionate about educating trainees and early career faculty development. She has served on numerous scholarship oversight and research mentoring committees, and as the mentor for over 50 trainees and early-career faculty.

As an ATS Fellow, Dr. Davis has a longstanding history of serving the ATS. She has served as chair of the Pediatric Assembly, chair of the Pediatric Program Committee and chair of the Pediatric Nominating Committee, and currently serves as chair of the Publications Policy Committee. She has been a member of the Board of Directors, the Infant/Preschool PFT Standardization Taskforce, the Research Advocacy Committee, and the Pediatric Planning Committee.

ATS/MECOR Leadership Program in Africa

Sonia Buist, MD
A. Sonia Buist, MD

A. Sonia Buist, MD, and Obianuju Ozoh, MD, ATSF, will discuss a new initiative designed to enhance leadership capacities among women in Africa, a cause closely aligned with the values promoted at the Women’s Forum. The ATS/MECOR Leadership Program in Africa will be fully funded by the ATS through a generous individual donation.

The ATS Methods in Epidemiologic, Clinical and Operations Research (MECOR) Program trains pulmonary physicians in clinical and epidemiologic research in resource-poor countries. It has over 2,500 graduates in Latin America, Turkey, Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, and India.

Dr. Buist is a professor emerita of Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University. She earned her MBChB medical degree in 1964 from the University of St. Andrews Medical School in Scotland and an MD (PhD equivalent) from the University of Dundee, also in Scotland. She previously served as head of the OHSU Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care for 20 years, on the Editorial Board of the New England Journal of Medicine, and as president of the ATS. She started, and for 25 years directed, the ATS MECOR Program. She also started the Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) Study which is creating a database of COPD prevalence and its risk factors worldwide.

Obianuju Beatrice Ozoh, MBBS, MSc, ATSF
Obianuju Ozoh, MD, ATSF

Dr. Ozoh is an associate professor of Medicine at the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is also a consultant pulmonologist at the affiliated Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

Her research focuses on the epidemiology of chronic respiratory diseases, developing interventions to reduce exposure to risk factors, and improving access to services for diagnosis and treatment. She engages in clinical training and research capacity building for respiratory disease in Africa and is the co-director of the Pan African Thoracic Society Methods in Epidemiologic, Clinical and Operations Research (PATS MECOR) Program and the Vice President of PATS. She is a science committee and board member of the Global Initiative on Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). Dr. Ozoh strongly advocates for individuals with respiratory diseases and has developed a patient education program for asthma using task shifting. She is the first recipient of the Buist’s Pathway to Leadership award and received the World Lung Health award of the ATS in 2023.

ATS thanks United Therapeutics and Regeneron Healthcare Solutions for their support of the Women’s Forum.


Register today for the ATS 2024 International Conference! Don’t miss this opportunity to take part in the in-person conference, May 17-22 in San Diego. Join your colleagues to learn about the latest developments in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine.

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