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School of Medicine Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine profiles

October 29, 2010

Joann N. Bodurtha, M.D., M.P.H.

Joann N. Bodurtha, M.D., M.P.H.

Faculty Excellence Awards – 2010
Women in Science, Dentistry, and Medicine Professional Achievement Award

“She is often seen in the halls between her Sanger Office and the Dalton Clinic, the small but mighty dynamo with the oversized backpack, consulting with physicians and students… (sharing her) personal brand of wisdom, humor, and pragmatism.” To those who have been fortunate enough to train and work with Dr. Joann Bodurtha, this description conjures up a familiar set of seemingly contradictory images. Calm and passionate. Challenging and supportive. Straightforward and unfailingly kind.

As a teacher and mentor, Dr. Bodurtha is known for her encyclopedic knowledge of human genetics as well as for challenging students to develop their own core values and sense of commitment to patients and their families. “She has an amazing ability to connect with patients. I am constantly trying to remember key phrases she uses to counsel patients and key cues she picks up from patients to aid not just in medical diagnosis, but in patient communication.” says John Quillin Ph.D., M.P.H., a former student who is now a departmental colleague.

Her abilities as a teacher and clinician have been key to her leadership success as the Director of the Va- LEND (Virginia Leadership in Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) program since its inception in 1995. Va-LEND has trained 136 students in 18 different disciplines in leadership skills to better enable them to advocate for children with special health care needs and their families.

Deborah J. Bowen of the Boston University School of Public Health echoes many others when she states that Dr. Bodurtha “steps up to the plate, in terms of taking on the biggest burden for her team, her department, and her field.” With VCU SOM Dean Strauss, she Co-Directs the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Program of the VCU Institute for Women’s Health, an NIH funded-program to mentor and promote career development of researchers studying women’s health issues. As a successful researcher responsible for $15 million in funding, and an author on over 100 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Bodurtha is a valuable mentor for those beginning and growing their academic careers.

Dr. Bodurtha was President of WISDM, then called Women in Medicine (WIM), from 2000-2003. Wendy Klein, M.D., Associate Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine & OB GYN and Sr. Deputy Director Emeritus, VCU Institute for Women’s Health, states, “She has been at the helm of the ongoing effort to foster the professional development of women faculty, and to address the many systemic challenges facing women in academic medicine.”

Among the honors Dr. Bodurtha has received are the 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and serving the community at-large; the 2008 Genetic Alliance Art of Listening Award; the 2006 VA Breast Cancer Foundation Sherry Kohlenberg Health Service Award; the 2006 State Council of Higher Education for VA Dominion Outstanding Faculty Award; the Dean’s Recognition for Outstanding Leadership and Service, 2003; and the first SOM Innovation in Teaching Award, 1999.

Her role-modeling extends to how she balances work and family. James Levenson, MD, Vice-Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Surgery states, “She is an exemplary role model for women (and men) faculty regarding how to manage a two career marriage, with both working in academic medicine, as well as being parents.’

In the words of a colleague: “Joann has demonstrated to all how to be a renaissance woman: a wife, a mother, a superb physician and a citizen of the world.” By never expecting less of herself than others, and for backing her values and wisdom up with effective action, Dr. Bodurtha daily exemplifies the qualities and accomplishments celebrated by the WISDM Professional Achievement Award.