Vivian W. Pinn, M.D., was the first full-time director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health from 1991 and Associate Director of NIH for Women’s Health Research from 1994 until her retirement in 2011 when she was named Senior Scientist Emerita at the NIH Fogarty International Center. Under her leadership, the office led the implementation of NIH inclusion policies for women and minorities in clinical research, developed the first and several subsequent strategic plans for women’s health research, and established new research initiatives and career development programs in collaboration with NIH Institutes and Centers. She established and co-chaired the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers with the NIH Director.
Prior to NIH, she was Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology at Howard University and previously held teaching appointments at Harvard and Tufts Universities. A graduate and former Alumna Trustee of Wellesley College, she earned her M.D. in 1967 from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, the only woman or minority in her class. She received her post-graduate training in Pathology as an NIH Research Fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Pinn has received innumerable honors, including 17 Honorary Degrees in Science, Law, and Medicine. The University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine named one of its four advisory medical student colleges “Vivian Pinn College.” In 2011, Tufts University School of Medicine honored Dr. Pinn by dedicating the Office of Student Affairs her honor and dedicated a scholarship in her name. In 2016, UVA announced that the medical research and education building was renamed for her as Pinn Hall. In addition, UVA medical school also announced the inaugural Pinn Scholars program to support and recognize mid-level faculty in efforts to take their research in novel directions. She has held leadership positions in many professional organizations, including as the 88th President of the National Medical Association (NMA) and is currently Chair of the NMA Past Presidents Council. Among other recent honors, she received the 2020 American Medical Association’s Distinguished Service Award for her leadership in women’s health as well as the 2020 Alma Dea Morani Award from the Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation and the New York Academy of Medicine.
Dr. Pinn has received more than 300 honors and awards. She was elected to Modern Healthcare’s Hall of Fame, the first African American woman to be so honored, and was also a recipient of the New York Academy of Medicine Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Health Policy. Honors she has received include a special lifetime achievement award from the Drexel University College of Medicine’s Institute for Women’s Health in 2017, and she also served as the 2017–18 Leader-in-Residence at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies of the University of Richmond. In 2019, she was presented with the John D. Thompson Distinguished Visiting Fellow Award by the Yale University School of Public Health. She more recently received the 2020 American Medical Association’s Distinguished Service Award for her leadership in women’s health, as well as the 2020 Alma Dea Morani Award from the Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation and the New York Academy of Medicine. She also was awarded the 2021 Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Pathology Chairs and was elected a 2021 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was also included in Hearst’s “Lift Every Voice” project, a celebration of Black lives.
Research!America awarded her the Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Award as one of its 2022 Advocacy Awards honorees. Tufts University honored her for her efforts as a faculty member at the medical school by selecting her as one of eight influential Black leaders at Tufts for its 2022 project called “Leading While Black: A Legacy of Transformational Black Leadership at Tufts University.” Lectures in women’s health named for her have been established at NIH, the National Women’s Health Congress, and the National Medical Association. One of her greatest honors has been the announcement by the University of Virginia in the fall of 2016 that the medical research and education building was renamed Pinn Hall for her. And in December 2016, the University of Virginia School of Medicine also announced the inaugural Pinn Scholars program to support and recognize midlevel faculty members for their efforts to take their research in novel directions. Her oral history is included in the National Library of Medicine’s exhibit on women physicians, “Changing the Face of Medicine;” in the University of Virginia’s project called “Explorations in Black Leadership,” conducted by Julian Bond; and in the HistoryMakers collection, which is now housed in the Library of Congress.