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Carol A. Westbrook, MD, PhD: 1985 ASH Scholar

Carol A. Westbrook, MD, PhD
Consulting Medical Oncologist
Technical Analysis Corporation
Beverly Shores, IN

On Receiving the Scholar Award

The Scholar Award gave me the ability to say, “I’m coming aboard as a funded investigator.” Furthermore, it gave me the ability to negotiate my first job as an assistant professor. The odds of getting established with a research career in an academic setting and sticking it out are so much lower if you go into it without any funding, especially nowadays when it may even be harder to get funded.

Career Impact

Having a competitive national award like the Scholar Award gives you the credibility to obtain other funding to get your work published and to get on other organizational committees. If you have no named funding, you don’t exist, so it puts you out there as a worthy candidate for whatever comes up.

I don’t want to overlook the aspect of being a female and getting this award. Feminine equality is still a challenge; it’s still a tough road to take. There are a lot more women in this field than there were before, but having a head start like you get with an award like this keeps a lot of bright, talented women from giving up in despair when they don’t have time to go home and raise kids, write grants, and see their patients. Having that extra help makes a big difference.

The American Society of Hematology is very supportive of women. It’s not an old boys’ society. I look back and more than half of my mentors were women – women who showed they could succeed, and that’s just so important. Having mentors is important to anybody who is trying to come up in academics, but sometimes it’s a lot harder if you’re a woman.