Maria Ryan, Professor of Oral Biology and Pathology, Associate Dean for Strategic Planning and External Affairs at the School of Dental Medicine, and Director of Clinical Research for the Department of Oral Biology and Pathology, was presented with the Victress Award in Health at a gala in Germany in August.
The Victress Initiative is a non-profit organization that aims to increase the percentage of females in leading positions and to promote mixed leadership by presenting modern role models, providing innovative solutions for companies, and inspiring young women on their way to the top. Victress was founded in 2005 by men and women who combine their individual strengths and networks to promote Victress and its mission.
The most outstanding role models receive awards in various categories at the Victress Gala. A new category this year is the Victress Health Award; Ryan was the first recipient of the Victress Health Award, which goes to a scientist or doctor who is researching or developing in a field that is gender specific or who provides a breakthrough for women’s health. The winner also serves and engages as a role model for young women who want to follow a similar career path.
“I was very honored to be the initial recipient of this award, and I was proud to be able to share the efforts of our group at the School of Dental Medicine and our collaborators within the Stony Brook Medical Center who have worked across multiple disciplines to devise better methods to help in the early identification of oral disease and to improve in the management of the most common chronic inflammatory disease known, periodontal disease,” said Ryan. “We have come to recognize the important connections between oral and overall health, making early detection and treatment of oral disease essential.”
The reason why the Victress Health Award was created is twofold: One aspect is the fact that women have different medical needs and sometimes show different symptoms or respond differently to medication, which is rarely acknowledged. The other aspect is to promote some of the brilliant women in science who are usually not as visible as their male colleagues in the eyes of the public. The Victress board wants to educate on the field of gender-specific medicine and honor some of the women who do exemplary work by helping other women and their children to lead healthier lives.
“I would like to thank the organizers of the Victress Awards for recognizing the achievements of women who work in very male-dominated professions,” said Ryan. “Despite the fact that approximately 50 percent of our graduating classes in medical and dental schools in the U.S. are composed of women, it is still the case that women are underrepresented in executive leadership positions in academia. Our numbers are growing at a relatively slow pace. I believe in the Victress motto: ‘Excellence knows no gender.’”
Ryan is also a Stony Brook alum, receiving her D.D.S. in 1989 and her Ph.D. in Oral Biology and Pathology in 1998.