The Women's Health Science Program for High School Girls and Beyond is a program designed to engage a diverse population of high school girls from Chicago in authentic learning experiences to explore the basic science, clinical applications, and career options in a variety of science disciplines. This program offers four science academies -Oncofertility Saturday AcademyCardiology Summer Academy, Infectious Disease Summer Academy, and the Physical Science Summer Academy. To make the learning experiences relevant and applicable to the high school girls’ lives there is a focused concentration on women's health.  The high school girls are encouraged through the program to learn about women's health and take action to live healthier lives by participating in health education workshops, nutritious meals, and fitness classes.  The program provides a network of scientists, clinicians, teachers and family to mentor and support the high school girls' pursuits in science during their transition from high school into college. The program’s mission is to prepare and inspire the next generation of women leaders in science and medicine.  


The Women’s Health Science Program (WHSP) is busy gearing up for this summer’s Infectious Disease Summer Academy, which will begin with a student orientation on Friday, July 13th and then run from Monday, July 16th to Friday July 20th.  Eighteen students (out of 46 applicants) were selected to participate. The applicants came from 20 different Chicago Public Schools.  

This is the second iteration of the Infectious Disease Summer Academy, which ran for the first time in 2010.  Both academies were made possible due to the generous support of Janice Feinberg, one of the biggest supporters of our Women’s Health Science Program.  The academy is led by three prominent female clinicians at Northwestern: Patricia Garcia, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Fetal-Maternal Medicine; Melissa Simon, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology-General and Medical Social Sciences; and Sarah Sutton, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease.  We have also hired three outstanding medical students from Feinberg School of Medicine who will help develop curriculum and serve as mentors for the students.

Students will participate in a wide range of learning experiences in this academy.  Laboratory experiences include microbiology testing and bacteria gram-staining. Clinical experiences include simulating a collection of infectious disease samples and dissecting placentas. Public health learning experiences include community speakers and discussions of the social implications of living with infectious disease. Additionally, students are expected to apply their knowledge and give back to their communities by creating public service announcements related to the spread of infectious disease.   For more information about the Infectious Disease Summer Academy or any of the Women’s Health Science Programs, please contact the WHSP leadership team.


When a young woman is accepted into a Women’s Health Science Program (WHSP) academy, she enters into a “science sisterhood.”  Dr. Teresa Woodruff and the other WHSP program directors make it clear to her that, from this point forward, they are here to support her in all her academic and career pursuits.  Consequently, graduation from a WHSP academy never truly means goodbye. 

The alumnae attend universities across the country, and many are in the process of pursuing degrees in science or medicine.  WHSP program directors maintain communication with all alumnae, and offer guidance, whenever needed.

Last summer, WHSP held its 2011 Alumnae Event to honor our alumnae, our partners from YWLCS, and the over 100 Northwestern University faculty, staff, and students who make this program a success.  The program directors hosted a luncheon in the lobby of the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center.  Alumnae, their family members, and friends sat among the YWLCS and Northwestern faculty and staff who supported them throughout the various academies.

Over lunch, the alumnae had time to reconnect with their academy facilitators and reminisce about their favorite program memories.  At the end of the event, guests applauded as Dr. Woodruff presented each student with a special gift on behalf of WHSP: a beautiful pin.  The design of the pin, a pearl surrounded by three golden circles, is significant in that it bears resemblance to a developing egg within an ovarian follicle.  Dr. Woodruff, whose oncofertility research centers on the ovarian follicle, explained that just as follicle nurtures and supports the developing egg, the Women’s Health Science Program will continue to nurture and support our alumnae as they grow and flourish.  The alumnae can wear these pins as a reminder of the program’s commitment to them.