Traveling exhibition will recount the history of women in medicine over two centuries 

April 28, 2006 

WORCESTER, Mass.  Women doctors are the focus of a new traveling exhibition opening at the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Lamar Soutter Library on May 5.  "Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians" tells the extraordinary story of how American women who wanted to practice medicine have struggled over the past two centuries to gain access to medical education and to work in the medical specialties they chose. The exhibition will be on display through June 15, 2006. 

Since the mid-1800s when Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman in American to get a medical degree, women have achieved success in work once considered "unsuitable" for women. They are now found in every branch of medicine, as researchers on the cutting edge of new medical discoveries and as medical educators, surgeons, family practitioners, specialists and government health policy officials. "Changing the Face of Medicine" features the life stories of a rich diversity of these women physicians from around the nation and highlights the broad range of medical specialties they are involved in today. 

"The Lamar Soutter Library is privileged to be one of only 61 libraries in the country and one of only three libraries in New England to have been selected to host this prestigious exhibit. We look forward to the array of activities and events scheduled during the weeks the exhibit will be at the medical school," said Elaine R. Martin, DA, director of library services. 

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), Bethesda, Md., and the American Library Association, Chicago, Ill., organized the exhibition with support from the NLM, the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women's Health, and the American Medical Women's Association. The traveling exhibition is based on a larger exhibition that was displayed at the NLM from 2003-2005. Community supporters of the local exhibition include the Colleges of Worcester Consortium, Girl Scouts of Montachusett Council, Inc., Worcester District Medical Society, Worcester Public Library, Worcester Women's History Project and Young Women's Christian Association of Central Massachusetts (YWCA). 

"Women have brought fresh perspectives to the medical profession," said Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, director of the National Library of Medicine. "They have turned the spotlight on issues that had previously received little attention, such as the social and economic costs of illnesses and the low numbers of women and minorities entering medical school and practice." 

Women physicians in the 21st century are benefiting from the career paths carved out since the mid-19th century by a long line of American women. Some early physicians featured in the exhibition are Matilda Evans, the first African-American physician to be licensed in South Carolina, and Florence Sabin, one of the earliest woman physicians to work as a research scientist. Among the many other doctors whose stories appear in the exhibition are Antonia Novello, the first woman Surgeon General of the United States, and Catherine DeAngelis, the first woman to be appointed editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. DeAngelis is also confirmed as UMMS' 2006 Commencement speaker. 

The Lamar Soutter Library is also pleased to highlight six of the exhibit's women physicians whose careers have been influenced in some way by their association with the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Following are brief excerpts that include the "UMass Connection" of each of these remarkable women: 

  • Lucy M. Candib, MD, completed her family practice residency at UMMS in 1976 and has taught and practiced family medicine ever since at the very site of her residency - the urban neighborhood Family Health Center of Worcester. 
  • Christine Cassel, MD, a renowned expert in geriatric medicine and medical ethics, graduated from UMMS in 1976. In 1995, Dr. Cassel became the first woman chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and in 1996, the first woman president of the American College of Physicians. Currently, she is the President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine.  
  • Vanessa Northington Gamble, MD, completed her residency in family medicine at UMMS. A physician and historian of medicine, Dr. Gamble chaired the Legacy Committee of the Tuskegee Syphillis Study in 1997. She holds appointments at both the National Center for Bioethics in Research & Health Care at Tuskegee University and at the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  
  • Maxine Hayes, MD, received her medical degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Then, while earning a master of public health degree at Harvard University, she worked as a consultant to Project COPE, a program sponsored by UMMS to offer pediatric health care information to mothers of infants born in prison. Currently, Dr. Hayes is an Associate Professor at the School of Public and Community Medicine at the University of Washington.  
  • Susan Veronica Karol, MD, completed her general surgical residency at UMMS. Dr. Karol was the first woman of the Tuscarora Indian Nation of Sanborn to become a surgeon, and in 1996, she became the first woman Chief of Surgery at Beverly (Massachusetts) Hospital, the position she currently holds. 

As a companion gallery to the Changing the Face of Medicine exhibition, Local Legends highlights the contributions of women physicians in rural and urban towns and cities throughout America. Nominated by a Congressional representative, each extraordinary Local Legend has made a positive, enduring contribution to the health care of their community and our country. UMMS is pleased to celebrate three Local Legend nominees with ties to the school. 

  • Paula L. Stillman, MD, is a graduate of New York University School of Medicine. While teaching pediatrics at the University of Arizona in the 1970s, she trained and used "patient instructors" or "standardized patients" as a reliable way to evaluate her students' clinical competence. When Dr. Stillman moved to UMMS in 1982, she was able to organize a standardized patient consortium among area medical schools to train volunteers. Her system has been replicated in medical schools across the country.  
  • Lani Graham, MD, is a board-certified family practice physician, licensed to practice in both Maine and Georgia, who completed a residency at UMMS. She has been a leader in public health challenges facing Maine for many years, leading the state to take an early, proactive, comprehensive and effective approach to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other health threats. 
  • Nancy Dickey, MD, the first female president of the American Medical Association, was an honorary degree recipient at UMMS in 1998. Dr. Dickey is currently President and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. 

Two interactive kiosks traveling with the exhibition offer access to the NLM's Local Legends Web site ( ), which features outstanding women physicians from every state, and to a Web site created for the larger exhibition at the NLM ( ). The exhibition Web site offers access to educational and professional resources for people considering medicine as a career, as well as lesson plans for classroom activities. A section of the Web site called "Share Your Story" allows the public to add the names and biographies of women physicians they know. 

The University is sponsoring free programs and other events for the public and for the University in connection with the exhibition. A complete public event listing can be found at  

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.  The Medical School attracts more than $174 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information visit .

Contact: Kelly Bishop, 508-856-2000;