Waisman investigator receives award recognizing her outstanding mentorship of women scientists

By Emily Leclerc, Waisman Science Writer

Pelin Cengiz, MD, Waisman investigator, professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Public Health, and a pediatric intensivist at UW Health, was recently awarded the 2022 Women’s Health Research Mentorship Award by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (UW SMPH) Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS) and the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH). This award recognizes impactful mentorship of women scientists fostering successful careers in women’s health and sex/gender differences research.

Pelin Cengiz
Pelin Cengiz (left) receives her GWIMS/BIRCWH Women’s Health Research Mentorship Award at the UW-Madison’s 2022 Women in Medicine and Science Symposium

Cengiz is a physician scientist who spends her time researching novel therapies for neonatal encephalopathy after hypoxic-ischemic brain injury and treating patients in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at UW Hospital. She dedicates time in both spaces to train undergraduates, graduate students, PICU fellows, medical students, medical doctors, research associates, and junior faculty. She is an internationally-recognized expert in pediatric brain injury and has become a highly sought-after mentor.

She works especially hard to ensure that women are equally represented in both the medical and research fields and does all she can to foster successful STEM careers in those that she mentors. This award recognizes the impact that Cengiz has had on those she has trained. “As a mentor, Dr. Cengiz is an outstanding role model for women in STEM,” says Ellen Wald, MD, Alfred Dorrance Daniels Professor on Diseases of Children and the chair of the department of pediatrics. Cengiz has also extended her mentoring beyond the hospital and her lab. In order to address a gap in training for internationally trained physicians, particularly women, looking for advanced research expertise, Cengiz created an externship. During this externship, Cengiz works with internationally trained physicians and medical students to give them high level experiences in bench and clinical research and clinical rounds observation. Many of the individuals she has trained have gone on to receive competitive residences or research positions in academia.

“Dr. Cengiz has focused her career on improving our understanding of sex-differences in the developing brain, and has inspired a generation of women to continue this work pursuing careers in medicine and science. She is a phenomenal role model,” says Peter Ferrazzano, MD, the Enid and Jerry Weygandt Professor of Pediatric Critical Care, chief of the division of pediatric critical care medicine, and a Waisman investigator. “Her clinical and research expertise is matched by a remarkable warmth and sincerity in dealing with her patients, their families, her colleagues, and her trainees.”

Congratulations Cengiz!