Women of Vision

Rear Admiral Susan J. Blumenthal: Advancing the Cause of Women’s Health

One of the country’s foremost heath care leaders, Rear Admiral Susan J. Blumenthal is a passionate advocate for women’s health and a wide range of other national and international public health issues. She joins Hadassah CEO Janice Weinman to discuss her pioneering work as America’s first Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health, the health care challenges women face today and the importance of ensuring women’s health equity — a key part of Hadassah’s mission.


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About this episode

Rear Admiral Susan J. Blumenthal, MD, MPA (ret.), served as a leading US government health expert and spokesperson for more than 20 years in the administrations of four US Presidents. She was Assistant Surgeon General of the US; the first-ever Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health; senior global and e-health advisor in the US Department of Health and Human Services; Chief of the Behavioral Medicine and Basic Prevention Research Branch; Head of the Suicide Research Unit at the National Institute of Mental Health, NIH; Chair of the NIH Health and Behavior Coordinating Committee; and a White House advisor on health issues. Admiral Blumenthal is especially known for her significant leadership in exposing the inequities in women’s health and developing innovative initiatives to advance women’s health and the study of sex differences in disease in the United States and globally. She has also been a pioneer in applying technology to advance health establishing the first government health website and the Missiles to Mammograms initiative that transferred CIA, DOD and NASA imaging technology to improve breast cancer detection. She also established the National Centers of Excellence Program in Women’s Health.

Dr. Blumenthal is currently the Director of the Health Innovations Lab at New America where she is leading the BeatTheVirus.org social media campaign and resource hub that provides comprehensive information about the COVID-19 pandemic. She is also working to apply technology to modernize federal food assistance programs in which 1 out 7 Americans are enrolled. Additionally, Dr. Blumenthal serves as the Senior Medical and Policy Advisor to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. Her work has included a focus on HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic in the early 1980s. Dr. Blumenthal convened the first NIH Conference on Women and AIDS in 1985, contributed to the first Surgeon General’s Report on AIDS in 1987 that was sent to all Americans, coordinated behavioral research at NIH on HIV prevention strategies and established as well as chaired the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Task Force on Women and AIDS.

Dr. Blumenthal is also a clinical professor at Tufts and Georgetown University Schools of Medicine, a visiting professor at the MIT Media Lab and a member of the Visiting Committee of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She has been the Public Health Editor of The Huffington Post, the health columnist for Elle magazine, the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Women's Studies at Brandeis University, the Elizabeth Blackwell Visiting Professor at the Mayo Clinic, the Lila Wallis Visiting Professor in Women’s Health at Weill Cornell School of Medicine and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University's School of Government.

Dr. Blumenthal has organized and chaired many national and international health conferences and briefings, written numerous scientific articles, edited books and served as an expert in the media on health issues. She was the host and medical director of an award-winning television series on women’s health. Admiral Blumenthal is the recipient of numerous awards, medals and honorary doctorates, including from Hebrew Union College and Ben Gurion University for her landmark contributions to improving health. She was named the Health Leader of the Year by the Commissioned Officers Association, as a Woman of Valor by Hadassah, as a Rock Star of Science by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation and decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal of the US Public Health Service, its highest honor, “for distinguished and pioneering leadership, groundbreaking contributions and dedicated public service that has improved the health of women, our Nation, and the world.”

Dr. Janice Weinman has nearly 50 years of experience and accomplishments in the not-for-profit and government sectors. In addition to almost a decade as Hadassah’s CEO/Executive Director, she served as President of K.I.D.S., an organization supporting millions of children in need around the world; Corporate Vice President for External Affairs of The Mount Sinai Hospital/NYU Medical Center and Health System in New York City; Executive Director and CEO of the American Association of University Women; and Executive Vice President of the College Board. She was the assistant to the United States Secretary of Education in both the Carter and Clinton administrations and has held professional and volunteer positions at a variety of civic organizations. Dr. Weinman earned an EdD and an MA from Harvard University and a BA from Brandeis University.

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