Cancer Center Physician
The American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) has named Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, director of the UConn Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Health Center, a "Local Legend." Runowicz and other women physicians from throughout the country were honored recently during the association's annual meeting.
The Local Legends award is a new project of the AMWA, together with the National Library of Medicine and the U.S. Congress, to celebrate the lives and achievements of America's female physicians. The award was designed to coincide with a traveling exhibit developed by the National Library of Medicine to honor female physicians. Information about Runowicz and other recipients of the Local Legends awards will be included in the exhibit, which is scheduled to begin its three-year, nationwide tour in the fall.
Through the Local Legends initiative, the AMWA recognizes highly accomplished female physicians from each of the 50 states, based on nominations made by members of Congress.
In an unusual situation, Runowicz was nominated twice - by U.S. Reps. Nita Lowey of New York, and Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, whose district includes the Health Center in Farmington. Until she joined the Health Center last fall, Runowicz - a Willimantic native and UConn alumna - was based in New York City.
Johnson visited the Health Center last week to congratulate Runowicz in person, and to tour the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
"I am enormously proud of the fact that Dr. Runowicz has 'come home' to Connecticut to lead the UConn Comprehensive Cancer Center and to serve as director of women's health programs," Johnson wrote in her nomination letter. "I applaud her creative, thoughtful contributions to medicine, especially cancer care."
Runowicz has achieved great success throughout her career. She has served as vice-chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City; director of gynecologic oncology research for the women's health service line of Continuum Health Partners; and a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She has also held academic positions at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
Runowicz's decision to join the UConn Comprehensive Cancer Center is a major advance for the Health Center, as it expands its clinical and research programs in cancer care. Cancer care is one of the Health Center's three signature programs, which emphasize the integration of research and clinical care. The others are cardiology and musculoskeletal health.
"Dr. Runowicz has pioneered new advances in gynecologic cancer care and is a leader in many prominent, national health organizations. She is a tireless advocate for women's health," said Dr. Peter J. Deckers, executive vice president for health affairs at the UConn Health Center.
Runowicz has achieved widespread national recognition. She was recently named second vice president of the American Cancer Society and testified in early January before the President's Cancer Panel. In addition, she currently serves on the National Cancer Institute's Scientific Review Group, and is also involved with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. She was the first woman to become president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, and has been chair of the Gynecologic Committee of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), a leading national organization in large-scale cancer research, since 1994.
The AMWA was founded in 1915 when women were an underrepresented minority in medicine. Its goal is to promote the advancement of women in medicine and to serve as the voice for women's health. By 1998, 23 percent of practicing physicians were women.
The National Library of Medicine, located on the campus of the National Institutes of Health, is the world's largest medical library.