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Teresa Woodruff elected to National Academy of Medicine

Election is one of the highest honors in health and medicine

Teresa Woodruff
Teresa Woodruff. Photo by Jim Prisching

Teresa K. Woodruff, vice chair for research in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, an independent organization of professionals from the fields of health and medicine and natural, social and behavioral sciences. 

Being elected to the academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements and commitment to service.  

Perhaps the most rewarding is the work our group has done to create fertility options for young cancer patients in the field of oncofertility.

Teresa Woodruff
“I’m thrilled about my election to the National Academy of Medicine, which recognizes not only my work but also that of my students over a 33-year career,” said Woodruff, who also is the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and dean of The Graduate School at Northwestern. “I have been privileged to work in the fundamental sciences, from cloning the genes that drive reproductive cycles in women to solving the structure of these hormones.”

Members are elected to the National Academy of Medicine by their peers from candidates nominated for their accomplishments and contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.The academy works to address critical issues in health, medicine and related policy, and inspire positive action across sectors. 

Woodruff’s team has made major discoveries that have been directly translated to human benefits. These include live birth from a 3D-printed ovarian bioprosthetic;  the invention of the EVATAR, which simulates a reproductive cycle in a dish; and, along with Thomas O’Halloranthe discovery of the zinc spark from eggs at the time of fertilization. As director of the Women’s Health Research Institute, she championed the National Institutes of Health policy to include sex as a biological variable in federally funded research. 

“Perhaps the most rewarding is the work our group has done to create fertility options for young cancer patients in the field of oncofertility,” said Woodruff, a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, in a recent Tedx Talk.  

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner recently signed legislation that amends the state’s insurance code to require oncofertility coverage, making Illinois the fifth state to enact a law requiring insurance coverage for fertility preservation

“It is an honor for all this work to be recognized,” Woodruff said. “As a Ph.D. in the medical academy, I hope to serve our field through advocacy and to support the National Academy of Medicine’s mission to provide authoritative information for the public.”

Woodruff earned her Ph.D. at Northwestern and has been awarded two honorary doctorates. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Inventors, is a Guggenheim Fellow and for her science education work was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring by President Barack Obama. She is civically active and an elected member of the Economic Club of Chicago.

“Northwestern University is the only place I could have made all our discoveries,” Woodruff said. “We have the most intellectually fearless students who are ready to create and use new tools; we have great faculty and colleagues with whom I’ve collaborated on both campuses; we are the home of the nation-leading Center for Reproductive Science and we have great facilities that enable our work to flourish.”

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