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Celebrating Women in Prostate Cancer

March is National Women’s History Month and this month The Prostate Cancer Foundation is acknowledging the amazing contributions that women have made in the field of science and medicine, specifically in prostate cancer research.

Before PCF began to encourage prostate cancer researchers by funding their early careers, the numbers of women in the field were few. Through it’s Young Investigator Award and team science Challenge Award programs, PCF has helped to increase the number of women who are building a long term career in prostate cancer research.

“The Prostate Cancer Foundation has been a major player in fostering the careers of women and funding their early careers when it’s very, very difficult,” says Chairman of Medicine Philip Kantoff, M.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Cancer.

The prostate cancer field has historically been a male-dominated field. In 2016, in recognition of the career issues unique to women, three female PCF-funded investigators, Drs. Karen Knudsen, PhD (Thomas Jefferson University), Lorelei Mucci, ScD (Harvard School of Public Health), and Himisha Beltran, MD (Weill Cornell Medicine), organized a Women In Science Forum at the PCF Annual Retreat, to which all female (and any interested male) attendees were invited to attend. The goals were to create a network of PCF women, to team build through discussion and social events, to ensure a strong pipeline of female prostate cancer researchers and clinicians, and identify opportunities for further training, mentoring and synergy of a stellar network of female prostate cancer researchers and clinicians.

Many of the most reknown PCF-funded scientists agree with Dr. Kantoff. “The Prostate Cancer Foundation has really led the effort in supporting women in science, “ said Stacy Loeb, M.D., NYU.

Mucci has added, “You know, when I started in the field, I think less than 10% of the meeting participants were women. PCF was incredibly supportive in helping in bringing together, networking, collaborating and supporting each other.”

Karen Knudsen, PhD

When asked in an earlier article about women in medicine and prostate cancer research, Karen Knudsen, said “My reason for working in prostate cancer is simple— I saw the unmet need, and believed that my line of research could make a difference in understanding and treating advanced disease. I also was fortunate to have a postdoctoral advisor that encouraged and supported my desire to focus in prostate cancer.”

And the future of women in science and prostate cancer research is looking even more amazing. At the 2017 Annual PCF Science Retreat, PCF invited female 20 high school students who were interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to attend the Women In Science Forum, and let them know what women before them have faced and to help that at the earliest stage by finding mentors and helping them to network to advance their careers in science and medicine.