Rutgers Office for Research hosted the Women on the Cutting Edge Conference, bringing together speakers from across the New Jersey research ecosystem to discuss the importance of female representation in research, scholarship, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Co-sponsored by the Women's Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the New Jersey Black Women Physicians Association, the Association for Women in Science New Jersey, and the New Jersey Health Foundation, the event was attended by over 100 people and speakers included Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway, Vice Chancellor for Research at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Kathleen Scotto, Dean of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Amy Murtha, Rutgers Women’s Health Institute Director Gloria Bachmann, and Tammy Murphy, the First Lady of New Jersey.

“Supporting and celebrating women in academia, innovation, and entrepreneurship is not only a matter of gender equity in the profession—it also helps us ensure that women’s health issues get the attention they deserve,” said Holloway. “I am grateful for the partners who came together to sponsor this conference, both inside and beyond Rutgers.”

As the keynote speaker, Murphy discussed the Nurture NJ initiative, a multi-pronged, multi-agency initiative that aims to make New Jersey the safest and most equitable place in the nation to deliver and raise a baby.

Tammy Murphy, Jonathan Holloway, Gloria Bachmann
New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway, Rutgers Women's Health Institute Director Gloria Bachmann

“Our Nurture NJ initiative was formed to completely transform New Jersey’s maternal health landscape into the national gold standard for care and I am proud to share that nearly every element of our work has been led by women,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “If there is one common theme in all our work and throughout every effort of Nurture NJ, it is collaboration and partnership. The women-led organizations represented here today, through advocacy or through their support of New Jersey’s women and babies, have been essential partners in our mission to make New Jersey the safest and most equitable place in the nation to deliver and raise a baby.”

“The Women on the Cutting Edge Conference is a perfect example of the mission of the Office for Research, which is to support the research, scholarship, and creative endeavors of ALL Rutgers faculty,” said Michael E. Zwick, Senior Vice President for Research. “The research and innovation ecosystems work best when they feature diversity, equality, and inclusivity on all levels, and the Office for Research takes that notion very seriously. We look forward to hosting more events like this in the future to highlight the amazing researchers from across Rutgers and New Jersey.”

The event included three speaker sessions and a panel discussion. The speakers included associate professor of Professional Practice in the Management & Global Business Department at the Rutgers Business School Jeana Wirtenberg, PhD, Vice President of Medical Communications at Bristol Myers Squibb and Principal Officer of the Association for Women in Science Monica Mody, PhD, and Board Certified OB/GYN and member of the New Jersey Black Women Physicians Association Toni Otway, MD.

The panel focused on Women in Entrepreneurship and featured panelists Deborah Perez Fernandez, PhD, Interim Executive Director of Office for Research’s Innovation Ventures; Karin Calvinho, PhD, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Rutgers startup RenewCO2; M. Maral Mouradian, MD, William Dow Lovett Professor of Neurology at Rutgers - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Founding Director of the RWJMS Institute for Neurological Therapeutics, and Vice Chancellor for Faculty Development at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences; Ariane Vasilatis, PhD, co-founder of the startup Zena Therapeutics and double-Rutgers graduate; Kathleen Coviello, MBA, Chief Economic Transformation Officer at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, who moderated.

“Here in New Jersey, especially here at Rutgers, we have a long history of supporting women in the areas of exceptional education, research, scholarship, and specialized professions such as health care and business, innovation, and entrepreneurship, as well as encouraging their collaboration with other universities, professional societies and the community,” said Bachmann. “That commitment is not only continuing but also expanding. Today’s conference showcased many outstanding women, such as our First Lady Tammy Murphy, and allowed our attendee learners to network with many remarkable women.”