Leadership Workshops & Research Seminars

FOCUS sponsors a Lunchtime Seminar Series that covers topics related to:

  • women's health research

  • professional development for academic physicians

  • current medical issues ("hot topics" in health care)

FOCUS sponsors lunchtime seminars on women’s health research, professional development for academic physicians and “hot topics” in healthcare. Presenters include faculty from the School of Medicine as well as from across the University— anthropologists, bioethicists, economists, lawyers, medical historians, sociologists, psychologists, as well as physicians and researchers — all of whom offer exposure and fresh perspective to a broad range of medical and professional development topics.


This interactive one-hour lunchtime format provides opportunities for faculty to convene across departments and centers and thereby promotes networking within the School of Medicine, the Hospital, and across the University. The Seminar Series is well-attended by both men and women faculty from a broad range of specialties. A portion of the series is devoted to workshops on career development and mentoring, particularly targeting female and/or junior medical faculty.

2022-2023 FOCUS programming
Includes lunchtime seminars, focus chats & leadership workshops

*Note: FOCUS is continually adding Seminar Series programming, please check here and our Twitter for updates.

NOTE: This 4-part evening workshop requires pre-registration for all four sessions and the deadline to apply is August 10, 2022. For more information please contact Sue Primavera @ sprimave@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

PROGRAM: Envisioning the Later Phase of Your Career: Using the Past to Inform the Future --
a FOCUS program opportunity for senior women faculty

Approaching the last 5-10 years of a career in academic medicine offers an opportunity to develop a future with new rewards and fulfillment. It can, however, be challenging to allow yourself the time to pause and focus on developing a vision that takes full advantage of your accomplishments while pruning responsibilities that are no longer energizing.  Using self-reflection and peer group work to advance each participant’s unique vision for their own career/life trajectory, participants explore pathways for creating the most rewarding, productive and enriching paths forward.  Through a series of small cohort-based workshops, each participant is guided in developing a personalized plan for the next phase of life/career. Participants are encouraged to reflect on their past accomplishments and challenges, strengths and weaknesses, current goals, values, realities and opportunities.  There are exercises at each session, and homework between sessions, to explore and experiment with potential opportunities for reinvigoration.

(#1 of a four-session program) Thurs., Oct. 27, 2022 @ 5:15 – 7:30
(#2 of a four-session program) Thurs., Nov. 17, 2022 @ 5:15 – 7:30
(#3 of a four-session program) Mon., Dec. 12, 2022 @ 5:15 – 7:30

(#4 of a four-session program) January date to be determined based on participant’s availability

Co-facilitated by: (click on their names to link to their bios)

Stephanie Abbuhl MD

Emeritus Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine

Co-Director of PATHWAYS Program for Penn STEM Faculty

Lucy Wolf Tuton, PhD

Director of Professional Development, FOCUS
Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine

Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics

Co-Director of PATHWAYS Program for Penn STEM Faculty

Executive Director, Bridging the Gaps

When Political Engagement is the Right Prescription

At a time when some policy makers and members of the public are increasingly skeptical of data and science and lawmakers are intervening in medical decision-making, learn about one physician's path from the bedside to elected office and what you can do now to advocate for your patients and your community.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2022 (Tuesday), 5:30 - 6:30 PM, Location: Virtual Zoom Session

Valerie A. Arkoosh, MD, MPH
Chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners

Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh has served on the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners since she was first appointed to fill a vacancy on the Commission in January 2015. Arkoosh won election to a full four-year term in November 2015 and served as Commission Vice Chair until her election as Commission Chair in November 2016, the first woman to assume this role. She was re-elected in November 2019 and unanimously chosen by her two colleagues to again serve as Chair in January 2020. Montgomery County, located in southeastern Pennsylvania, is the third most populous county in Pennsylvania with over 856,000 residents. The three member Board of Commissioners oversees a budget of nearly $500 million and directs more than 2,800 employees. The Commission manages human services for more than 100,000 residents, Voter Services, over 130 County bridges, 75 miles of roads and other infrastructure, seven County parks and nearly 100 miles of trails.

Dr. Arkoosh is bringing innovative reforms to county government from rebuilding critical infrastructure and preserving over 10,000 acres of farmland, to fighting for workers by instituting a $15 minimum wage and gender-neutral paid parental leave for County employees.  She has taken tangible steps to combat climate change transitioning the County buildings’ electrical supply to renewable sources. Arkoosh has done all this while restoring the County’s AAA bond rating and maintaining among the lowest County property taxes in the region.  Dr. Arkoosh is improving services for children, Veterans, and seniors. She has led the efforts to eliminate street homelessness of veterans, and streamline delivery of human services. Dr. Arkoosh drew on her background as a physician to oversee a multi-pronged, integrated response to the opioid overdose epidemic. In 2015 she issued a standing order to enable participating pharmacies in Montgomery County to dispense the overdose antidote naloxone at the request of any member of the public. Throughout her career, Dr. Arkoosh has been a staunch advocate for maternal health and reproductive rights. She is currently a member of the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee.  As a physician and public health professional, Arkoosh has been at the center of the County’s efforts to combat the COVID 19 pandemic leading a data and science driven response to this unprecedented challenge. Dr. Arkoosh has been praised for the County’s COVID-19 response and her transparency and public communication throughout the pandemic.  Upon obtaining her Master of Public Health in 2007, Arkoosh became deeply engaged in the national effort to achieve comprehensive health care reform. She led the National Physicians Alliance, a national non-profit organization of physicians, who, putting their patients before profits, joined a broad-based nation-wide coalition for reform. During this time, she developed policy and legislative strategy, and promoted public engagement in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and throughout the country. Dr. Arkoosh maintains comprehensive knowledge of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its impact on individuals and the health care system.  While much of her career has been in medicine and public health, Arkoosh has substantial experience in dealing with many of the same challenges governments face. She has significant leadership experience managing complex organizations during times of fiscal challenge. Arkoosh served for five years as Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the Drexel University College of Medicine where she successfully drew upon her undergraduate training in economics to restore her department to fiscal solvency following the Allegheny University bankruptcy. During this challenging time, she also served as Interim Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and was actively involved in the financial oversight of the medical school clinical practice plan. Prior to stepping into public service, Dr. Arkoosh was Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. Arkoosh is a graduate of the University Of Nebraska College Of Medicine and received a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She performed her residency at Jefferson Medical College in Anesthesiology with a special focus in Obstetrics. She has an undergraduate degree in economics from Northwestern University.  Arkoosh lives in Springfield Township, Montgomery County, with her husband, Jeff Harbison, and their three children.


COVID-19 update

Dr. Offit will describe where we stand in the current pandemic and what to expect regarding vaccines in the near future.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2022 (Wednesday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Virtual Zoom Session

Paul A. Offit, MD
Maurice R. Hilleman Chair of Vaccinology
Director of the Vaccine Education Center
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Division of Infectious Diseases
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Paul A. Offit, MD is the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and a Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a recipient of many awards including the J. Edmund Bradley Prize for Excellence in Pediatrics from the University of Maryland Medical School, the Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development from the Infectious Disease Society of America, and a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Offit has published more than 160 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety. He is also the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, recommended for universal use in infants by the CDC in 2006 and by the WHO in 2013; for this achievement Dr. Offit received the Luigi Mastroianni and William Osler Awards from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the Charles Mérieux Award from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases; and was honored by Bill and Melinda Gates during the launch of their Foundation’s Living Proof Project for global health. In 2009, Dr. Offit received the President’s Certificate for Outstanding Service from the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2011, Dr. Offit received the David E. Rogers Award from the American Association of Medical Colleges, the Odyssey Award from the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2012, Dr. Offit received the Distinguished Medical Achievement Award from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. In 2013, Dr. Offit received the Maxwell Finland award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Distinguished Alumnus award from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. In 2015, Dr. Offit won the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Pennsylvania and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2016, Dr. Offit won the Franklin Founder Award from the city of Philadelphia, The Porter Prize from the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal, and the Jonathan E. Rhoads Medal for Distinguished Service to Medicine from the American Philosophical Society. In 2018, Dr. Offit received the Gold Medal from the Sabin Vaccine Institute and in 2019 the John P. McGovern Award from the American Medical Writers Association and in 2020 the Public Educator Award from CHILD USA. In 2021, Dr. Offit was awarded the Edward Jenner Lifetime Achievement Award in Vaccinology from the 15th Vaccine Congress and was elected to the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame. In 2022, Dr. Offit received the Mentor of the Year Award from the Eastern Society for Pediatric Research and the Dean’s Alumni Leadership Award from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Offit was a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is currently a member of the FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee and is a founding advisory board member of the Autism Science Foundation and the Foundation for Vaccine Research. He is also the author of ten medical narratives: The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to Today’s Growing Vaccine Crisis (Yale University Press, 2005), Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases (HarperCollins, 2007), for which he won an award from the American Medical Writers Association, Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure (Columbia University Press, 2008), Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All (Basic Books, 2011), which was selected by Kirkus Reviews and Booklist as one of the best non-fiction books of the year, Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (HarperCollins, 2013), which won the Robert P. Balles Prize in Critical Thinking from the Center for Skeptical Inquiry and was selected by National Public Radio as one of the best books of 2013, Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine (Basic Books, 2015), which was selected by the New York Times Book Review as an “Editor’s Choice” book in April 2015, Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong (National Geographic Press/Random House, April 2017), which was nominated for Best Science and Technology book of 2017 by Goodreads, Bad Advice: Or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information (Columbia University Press, June 2018), Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far (HarperCollins, April, 2020), and You Bet Your Life: From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccinations—The Long and Risky History of Medical Innovations (Basic Books, 2021).


FOCUS Women in Leadership Panel Session

October 4, 2022 (Tuesday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Virtual Zoom Session


Susan M. Domchek, MD, FASCO

Executive Director, Basser Center for BRCA

Director, Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center

Basser Professor in Oncology

Oluwadamilola “Lola” Fayanju, MD, MA, MPHS, FACS

The Helen O. Dickens Presidential Associate Professor

Chief of Breast Surgery, Penn Medicine

Surgical Director, Rena Rowan Breast Center

Director, Health Equity Innovation, Penn Center for Cancer Care Innovation (PC3I)

Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI)

Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Susan L. Furth, MD, PhD

Professor of Pediatrics

Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Edmond F. Notebaert Endowed Chair in Pediatric Research, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Kim M. Olthoff, MD

Guthrie Professor of Surgery

Chief, Division of Transplant Surgery

Vice Chair of Faculty Development

Department of Surgery, University of Pennsylvania

Associate Director, Penn Transplant Institute

Surgical Director, Liver Transplant Program, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


Susan Domchek, MD, FASCO is the Basser Professor in Oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. She serves as Executive Director of the Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center and Director of the Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk valuation Program. Her work focuses on the genetic evaluation and medical management of individuals with inherited risk factors for cancer. Dr. Domchek is particularly interested in developing new cancer therapies, such as PARP inhibitors, for patients with genetic risk factors. An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Domchek is also a significant contributor to the oncology literature. She has authored/co-authored more than 350 articles appearing in scholarly journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Journal of Clinical Oncology, among others.

Oluwadamilola (Lola) Fayanju, MD, MA, MPHS is the inaugural Helen O. Dickens Presidential Associate Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the Chief of Breast Surgery for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. She is also Surgical Director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center in the Abramson Cancer Center and Associate Director and Director for Health Equity Innovation at the Penn Center for Cancer Care Innovation (PC3I). She is an academic breast surgical oncologist whose research focuses on health disparities, aggressive breast cancer variants, and improving value in oncology, particularly through the collection and application of patient-reported outcomes (PROs). She received her undergraduate degree in History and Science, and an MA in Comparative Literature from Harvard. She received her MD and a Master’s in Population Health Sciences (MPHS) from Washington University in St. Louis, where she also completed her residency in General Surgery. She completed fellowship training in Breast Surgical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In 2019, she was recognized by the National Academy of Medicine as an Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine Scholar. Her research is supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and she has published in a variety of journals including Annals of Surgery, Cancer, and JAMA.

Susan L. Furth, MD, PhD is the Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and holds the Edward Notebart Endowed Chair in Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She was formerly the Chief of the Division of Nephrology, Associate Chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Pediatrics and Vice Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.   Her research is in the epidemiology of chronic kidney disease in children. She is a. She previously served as a Councilor, as well as President and Vice President of the Society for Pediatric Research, and a Councilor for the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology and the International Society of Pediatric Nephrology.  She was recently elected as a member of the Association of American Physicians.  Committed to pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training, Dr. Furth has personally trained dozens of post-doctoral fellows and mentored numerous junior faculty. Her relationships with her mentees, which include adult and pediatric nephrologists, rheumatologists, intensivists and urologists from institutions across the country, have facilitated the research careers of multiple junior faculty.  Her commitment to mentorship has been acknowledged locally and nationally.  In 2016, she was awarded the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Faculty mentor award.  In 2019, she won the Society for Pediatric Research Maureen Andrews Mentoring Award. For 10 years, Dr. Furth held a K24 Mentoring Award in Patient Oriented research from the NIH. Her K23 mentees, many of whom are women, have gone on to become independent NIH funded researchers, division chiefs, transplant center directors, fellowship and residency program directors.  Dr. Furth is the principal investigator of the Chronic Kidney Disease in Children study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The study, which is in its 20th year, is the largest and longest running multicenter prospective cohort study of children with chronic kidney disease ever conducted in North America. She is also the PI of the P50 Center of Excellence in Pediatric Nephrology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) whose mission is to address and overcome barriers to clinical trials implementation in children with kidney disease. In the Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Furth developed a faculty advising program for all new faculty in the first 3 years of appointment with the goal of improving mentorship, sponsorship, work life integration and career success for both women and men. Additionally, she developed a mentoring award, named in honor of the late Carole Marcus, an accomplished pediatric pulmonologist and clinical investigator at CHOP, to support faculty developing innovative approaches to mentoring in research.  In 2020, Dr. Furth was honored to win the Society for Pediatric Research Maureen Andrew Mentor Award which recognizes “outstanding mentor leadership that generates excitement, creativity and scholarship leading to outstanding research and teaching.”   In her role as Vice Chair in the Department of Pediatrics, she successfully led a number of search committees for leadership roles, recruiting highly accomplished women physician scientists for a number of these positions.  As co-chair of the Department of Pediatrics’ Diversity and Equity Committee, Dr. Furth co-led an analysis of salary equity across the department and worked with the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program to secure an additional ELAM nomination slot for future women leaders from CHOP in addition to the nominees from the School of Medicine. 

Kim M. Olthoff, MD, is the Donald Guthrie Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, Chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery, and Vice Chair for Faculty Development. She attended the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and completed a residency in general surgery at UCLA followed by a fellowship in transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery at the Dumont – UCLA Transplant Center, joining the Penn faculty in 1995.

Dr. Olthoff is a Past-President for the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, and has chaired numerous committees for national and international transplant societies and organizations. She is currently a Councilor of the American Board of Surgery, and serves on the Board of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. She has a busy clinical practice in adult and pediatric liver transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery, leading the living donor liver transplant program at Penn and the liver transplant program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Olthoff has an active research program in clinical and translational studies that focus on living donation and liver regeneration, early allograft dysfunction, and organ allocation. Dr Olthoff is a recipient of NIH funding, and has published over 200 manuscripts, editorials, and chapters.

Grant review communities and lessons from Ben

November 3, 2022 (Thursday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Virtual Zoom Session

Matthew D. Weitzman, PhD
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Professor of Microbiology, Professor of Pediatrics
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Co-Chief, Division of Protective Immunity, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Director of Grant Review Communities, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Dr. Weitzman is a Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) at the University of Pennsylvania. He runs a lab at CHOP where he studies virus-host interactions, using human DNA viruses as model systems to investigate fundamental cellular processes using an integrated experimental approach that combines biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics and cell biology. Research in his lab has been continuously supported by NIH grants for over 20 years and they have published over 120 articles in leading peer-reviewed journals. He has leadership roles in the CHOP Research Institute, the CHOP Center for Childhood Cancer Research, the Abramson Cancer Center and the Penn Center for Genome Integrity. Dr. Weitzman is an active participant in the wider scientific community in many educational and advisory capacities. He participates in teaching and trainee education at CHOP and PSOM. He has served on many national and international grant review study sections and was chair of the NIH Cancer Etiology Study Section. He initiated and runs the Grant Proposal Success (GPS) Program and runs multiple grant review support groups for faculty and trainees.  He has been recognized with multiple mentor awards at CHOP and Penn.



Microaggressions MACROIMPACT:
Identifying and Addressing Microaggressions
in Our Personal and Professional Environmen
(1 of 2 sessions)

Through this seminar, we will define microaggressions, identify the various types of microaggressions, and explore the macro-impact of microaggressions within our personal and professional environments. We will also discuss strategies for addressing microaggressions via a didactic and interactive format. 


November 29, 2022 (Tuesday), 12:00 - 2:00 PM, Location: Virtual Zoom Session


Nicole R Washington, MD

Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Section of Hospital Medicine, Department of Pediatrics

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Associate Program Director, Pediatric Residency Program

Medical Director, Physician Supervisor for Patient Flow Program & General Pediatrics Resident Services

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


Microaggressions MACROIMPACT:Identifying and Addressing Microaggressionsin Our Personal and Professional Environments

(2 of 2 sessions)


 The workshop component of this session will include review of techniques to address discriminatory patient encounters within the clinical learning environment, small group case-based opportunities to practice response strategies and debriefing and discussion of options for reporting such events. 

December 13, 2022 (Tuesday), 12:00 - 1:00 PM, Location: Virtual Zoom Session


Michelle A. Weir, MD

Assistant Professor of Clinical Dermatology
Department of Dermatology

Perelman School of Medicine

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Caitlin B. Clancy, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine
Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care
Perelman School of Medicine
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Margot E. Cohen MD MSEd

Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine

Co-Director, Internal Medicine Clerkship

Department of Medicine, Section of Hospital Medicine

Perelman School of Medicine

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Laura E Dingfield, MD, MSEd

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Inpatient Attending, Penn Medicine Hospice, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Inpatient Attending, Penn Medicine Hospice, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center

Program Director, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Director of Palliative Care Education, University of Pennsylvania Health System

Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania


Twice as Hard: The Stories of Black Women
Who Fought to Become Physicians, from the
Civil War to the Twenty-First Century

(Co-sponsored by FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women (FOCUS) & The Alliance of Minority Physicians (AMP)


Jasmine will provide some background and discuss her new book, which will then be followed by a facilitated question and answer session.

February 16, 2023 (Thursday), 6:00 - 7:00 PM, Location: Virtual Zoom Session


Jasmine Brown, MPhil

Rhodes Scholar

MD Candidate


Jasmine Brown is a medical student at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed an M.Phil. in History of Science, Medicine and Technology at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. When she was an undergraduate student at Washington University in St. Louis, she founded the Minority Association of Rising Scientists and served as its president, working to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in science and medicine. This is her first book.




A Penn program with a mission to improve the recruitment, retention & advancement of women faculty + promote education & research in women’s health & leadership