Testimonials from Fellows & Alumni
“The training I received during the WH fellowship was directly responsible for my success in grant writing, manuscript development and the care of women in VA.” -Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD, Associate Chief of Staff for Research, William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, WI, and Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI
“The fellowship set my career on the right path. I highly recommend the fellowship to anyone who has a passion for Women’s Health, and who desires to make a difference through research, education, AND clinical care.” –Carla L. Spagnoletti, MD, MS, Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
“It was extremely valuable to have access to some of the VA leaders in women’s health care, integrated care for depression, implementation science and race/gender disparities in care outcomes and utilization.” –Teri D. Davis, PhD, Faculty, Pepperdine University and California State University, Adjunct Researcher, University of California – Los Angeles and VA-Greater Los Angeles
“The VA Older Women’s Health Fellowship provided me with the protected time, training and astute mentorship that I needed to successfully compete for an NIH Career Development Award. Furthermore, the collegiality of the program ensured a ready-network of other faculty and trainees who have become life-mentors, colleagues and friends.” -Amy J Haavisto Kind, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, and William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital – Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) Madison, WI
“I enjoyed the mix of activities in which I participated as a fellow. For example, on any work day, I may have given a one hour lecture to medical students and residents about abnormal uterine bleeding, supervised residents providing primary care to women Veterans, gone to one of my Master’s classes, and spent a few hours working on my medical education projects. I also felt fortunate to have so many excellent faculty mentors available to me in the fellowship for both project and career oversight. Finally, I enjoyed caring for women Veterans. They have served our country, and it feels good to give back to them. Additionally, many of them have a higher burden of disease than corresponding civilian women their age, so there are many opportunities to improve their health.” –Anna K. Donovan, MD, MS, Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
“The Women’s Health fellowship was a tremendous opportunity that came during an important transition in my career from a clinician to a clinician-investigator. The fellowship gave me a chance to take classes and attend seminars to learn more about clinical research methodology, but even more so it gave me an opportunity to network with leaders in women’s health across campus and pushed me to think more broadly about factors that affect the health of women. In addition, the clinical skills I developed working with older women Veterans during my fellowship were extremely valuable. I have been so glad to see so many others benefit from this fellowship as well.” -Cynthia M. Carlsson, MD, MS, Associate Professor, Division of Geriatrics, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, and Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC), William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital – Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) Madison, WI
“I was provided the mentorship and supported research time needed to develop an independent research project and progress as a clinician scientist.” –Jeniel Nett, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI
“The Advanced Fellowship in Women’s Health has truly been an impactful two years. I have been given the opportunity to further my studies in preparation for a career in research, have begun work on an exciting research project with tangible clinical implications, and have met and collaborated with many inspiring individuals along the way. My clinical work with women Veterans has enhanced my knowledge base, and it has been a blessing to get to know this special group of individuals. As I prepare to leave the fellowship, I am excited for the next stage in my career. I have accepted a position as a Primary Care Research Fellow on a training grant, and plan to continue my work with women Veterans and smoking cessation. I anticipate applying for an Early Career Award to become an independent investigator in the near future. Without the Advanced Fellowship in Women’s Health, I wouldn’t have the skills or knowledge about how to begin a research career. Most importantly, however, I wouldn’t have the friendships and mentors that I consider so valuable today. For that, I am most grateful.” –Kristin Berg, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI
Where the Fellowship Can Take You
We feature a few of our alumni and share what a “typical day in the life” of their work looks like and how the AFWH helped position them in their early careers.
Dr. Jennifer Corbelli, MD, MS
Dr. Corbelli is an Associate Professor of Medicine and the Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she specializes in Internal Medicine.
A Typical Day in Her Life as a Physician-Educator:
My primary role is as the program director of a large medicine residency. I also practice outpatient medicine with a focus on women’s health and attend on wards with resident teams. My typical day is a mix of meetings (primary with chiefs, individual residents, and faculty/department leadership), troubleshooting issues that arise in the residency, my clinical practice, and of course, email. I have continued to pursue scholarship primarily in medication education and systematic review.
How the Fellowship Helped Dr. Corbelli’s Career:
I can’t overstate the fellowship’s instrumental role in launching my career. It was truly invaluable in both directly preparing me with the necessary skills to succeed in my current career, and in making me much more competitive for the types of positions that I wanted to pursue. I gained so much experience with direct teaching, leadership, and educational scholarship, that without the fellowship, it would otherwise have taken me many years to develop.
Dr. Yael Nillni, Ph.D.
Dr. Nillni specializes in trauma, mental health, and women’s reproductive health. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine and a Clinical Research Psychologist for the National Center of PTSD at the Women’s Health Sciences Division at VA Boston Healthcare System.
A Typical Day in Her Life as a Clinician-Researcher:
Most of my time is spent working on my K23 career development award from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). This study examines the role of neurobiological and psychosocial factors impacting negative pregnancy outcomes and maternal perinatal mental health among women with PTSD. My days consist of completing the diagnostic interviews for participants enrolling in my study, managing and mentoring my research assistants, writing manuscripts and grants, and collaborating on other research projects related to the intersection of women’s mental and reproductive health.
How the Fellowship Helped Dr. Nillni’s Career:
This fellowship has been instrumental for my career. It helped me: 1) gain both research and clinical expertise in trauma and PTSD, particularly as it relates to women’s health, 2) acquire valuable granstmanship skills and professional development to transition to an independent investigator, and 3) build a large network of interdisciplinary collaborators both within and outside of the VA. Most importantly, I received invaluable mentorship from several researchers throughout my fellowship who continue to serve as mentors and consultants on my current K23 award.
Dr. Mary Driscoll, Ph.D.
Dr. Driscoll is a Research Psychologist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and an Associate Research Scientist at the Yales School of Medicine. She specializes in Clinical Health Psychology and is an accomplished Pain Consultant for Women’s Health Services at VA Central Office.
A Typical Day in Her Life as a Clinician-Researcher:
My days vary and include research and educational and clinical activities. First and foremost, I run clinical trials, one as Principal Investigator (PI) and the other as site PI for a Practice-Based Research Network study. As a consultant to Women’s Health, I develop programming and education materials/presentations and evaluate needs in order to optimize the care of women with chronic pain. Clinically, I provide direct care on several behavioral pain trials and supervise trainees in the local women’s clinic.
How the Fellowship Helped Dr. Driscoll’s Career:
The Women’s Health Fellowship at VA Connecticut provided the time, training, resources, and mentorship necessary to support an independent line of scientific inquiry and to help me develop a professional identity. With skills and relationships acquired on my fellowship, I was able to secure a VISN 1 Career Development Award and a supplemental award from the Robert E. Leet & Clara Guthrie Patterson Trust to pilot a peer support pain self-management intervention for women Veterans.
Dr. Robyn Gobin, Ph.D.
Dr. Gobin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She specializes in Interpersonal Trauma and Women’s Mental Health.
A Typical Day in Her Life as a Clinician-Researcher:
As a licensed clinical psychologist and an assistant professor, I have a career that features opportunities for research, teaching, mentoring/supervision, and clinical practice. Tuesday and Thursday are teaching, mentoring, and office hour days. Within the UIUC Department of Community Health, I teach an undergraduate-level course that addresses the cultural context of trauma exposure and trauma recovery. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are research and grant writing days. As the director of the Transforming Trauma and Mental Health Laboratory, I guide a talented group of students in securing grant funding and conducting research focused on the mental health consequences of interpersonal trauma, the role of culture in trauma recovery, and the use of technology to promote mental health and increase treatment engagement among vulnerable trauma-exposed populations. I spend Wednesday afternoons and evenings engaged in clinical practice with individuals, groups, and couples. In my clinical practice, I utilize empirically supported interventions and mindfulness- and acceptance-based therapies to promote trauma recovery.
How the Fellowship Helped Dr. Gobin’s Career:
The Women’s Health Fellowship at the San Diego VA Healthcare System was instrumental in equipping me with grant-writing experiences and teaching opportunities that made me a more attractive candidate on the job market. I was co-PI on a Clinical Research Pilot Grant from the University of San Diego California (UCSD) Clinical and Translational Research Institute. Our team was funded to test the initial efficacy of a group-based skills training intervention aimed at enhancing PTSD treatment outcomes among military sexual trauma survivors. In addition to this valuable grant-related experience, as a Women’s Health Fellow, I had the opportunity to provide workshops and trainings to VA physicians, mental health clinicians, and social workers related to military sexual trauma, implementing dialectical behavioral therapy, and culturally competent sexual health assessments. These training experiences demonstrated my funding potential and my ability to translate research and clinical experiences to the classroom context.