Vivian Pinn

 Former Director, Office of Research on Women’s Health, NIH


an pinn_1Vivian W. Pinn, MD., was, until her retirement at the end of August 2011, the first full-time Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an appointment she held since 1991. Dr. Pinn came to NIH from Howard University College of Medicine where she had been Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology since 1982. She has presented the ORWH’s programs and initiatives to many national and international organizations with an interest in improving women’s health and the health of minorities.


The ORWH was established by Congress to ensure the inclusion of women (and minorities) in clinical research funded by the NIH. Dr. Pinn led NIH efforts to implement and monitor these inclusion policies. Another of her efforts was to raise the perception of the scientific community about the importance of sex differences in research and health care. Dr. Pinn also co-chaired until her retirement, along with the Director of NIH, the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers which developed and implemented programs and policies to improve the advancement of women in biomedical careers. Since her retirement, Dr. Pinn has been named as a Senior Scientist Emeritus at the NIH Fogarty International Center.


Dr. Pinn, a native of Lynchburg, Virginia, earned her B.A. from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and her M.D. from the University of Virginia School Of Medicine in 1967, where she was the only woman and only minority in her class. She completed her postgraduate training in Pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, during which time she also served as Teaching Fellow at the Harvard Medical School. She was Associate Professor of Pathology and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Tufts before leaving to join the faculty at Howard, when she became the 3rd woman in the United States to Chair an academic department of Pathology. She is a member of long standing in many professional and scientific organizations in which she has held many positions of leadership, including being the 2nd woman President of the National Medical Association in 1989 after serving in many other capacities including Speaker of the House of Delegates and Trustee.


Dr. Pinn has received numerous honors, awards, and recognitions, and has been granted 11 Honorary Degrees of Laws and Science since 1992. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1995. Among her honors is the Alumni Achievement Award from Wellesley College in 1993, where she formerly served on the Wellesley College Board of Trustees. She also received the second annual Distinguished Alumna Award from the University of Virginia, was honored by the UVA medical school as one of their Alumni Luminaries and was invited to serve as the 2005 speaker for the University of Virginia Commencement, the first African American woman to be so honored. The UVA School of Medicine established the “Vivian W. Pinn Distinguished Lecture in Health Disparities,” and further honored her in the fall of 2010 by naming one of its 4 advisory colleges for medical students in her name. She was presented in May 2011, with the distinguished “Tufts University School of Medicine Dean’s Medal” conferred only rarely to individuals whose service to the school and career in medicine have enhanced the University’s national standing. Tufts University also created the “Vivian W. Pinn Office of Student Affairs” and established a scholarship fund in her name to assist disadvantaged students. Dr. Pinn has since been appointed to the Board of Advisors of Tufts University School of Medicine.


Dr. Pinn was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, and received The (NY) Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Health Policy,  She was presented with a Certificate of Recognition from the California Legislature Assembly for extraordinary achievement and groundbreaking pioneer-ship and national leadership in the field of women’s health research during a reception honoring her retirement at the UCLA medical school. A Special Tribute by Senator Olympia Snowe, “The Retirement of Dr. Vivian Pinn”, was published in the Congressional Record in November 2011 commending her contributions during her tenure at the NIH. The Association of American Medical Colleges awarded her a Special Recognition Award for exceptional leadership in promoting the health of women and minorities over a 40 year career. She received the first Bernadine Healy Award for Visionary Leadership in Women’s Health by the Women’s Health Congress in 2012. The National Organization for Women presented her the 3rd Annual Victoria J. Mastrobuono Women’s Health Award at its 2012 national conference.