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Staff Q&A: Nicole Woitowich, Director of Science Outreach and Education, Women’s Health Research Institute

Nicole Woitowich

Where are you originally from?   

I am a lifelong Chicagoan, born and raised on the Northwest side in the Edgebrook neighborhood.


What is your educational background?

I received my Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Purdue University, my Master of Science in biology from Northeastern Illinois University and my PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.

Please tell us about your professional background.  (ie. other places you have worked prior to Northwestern, or, other jobs you’ve held at Northwestern.)

I was trained as research scientist with a background in reproductive physiology, but discovered early on that my true passion lies in science outreach and education. I have experience developing outreach programming on both the local and national level, as a member of the Public Outreach Committee for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the founder of Women in Scientific Discovery or Medicine (WISDOM), a Lake County-based organization which promotes the advancement of women and underrepresented groups in the basic and health sciences.

Why did you choose to work at Northwestern?

Northwestern values and recognizes the importance of diversity in biomedical research on many levels. The fact that the Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) exists is a true testament to that. I am delighted to be an advocate for sex and gender inclusion in biomedical and clinical research as well as a champion for women in science and medicine.

How do you help scientists and/ or research students at the medical school? 

The WHRI has many tools for investigators and trainees interested in incorporating sex or gender considerations into their research portfolio. I have hands-on experience developing experimental protocols which incorporate sex as a biological variable and can act as a resource for investigators or students who are interested in evaluating their current research methods or developing new ones. Also, I am the research coordinator for the Illinois Women’s Health Registry, a platform designed to increase the visibility and participation of women in clinical research. Investigators can utilize this database of over 7,000 women as a recruitment tool for clinical research or conduct epidemiological studies.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I enjoy making science accessible. This may mean translating a scientific journal article into a blog article that is easy for non-scientists to understand or discussing current advances in women’s health research with community partners. On the other hand, it might be fostering collaboration between interdisciplinary scientists and clinicians, or developing mentorship opportunities for students, post-docs, and faculty. Together, I find these activities very rewarding. 

What exciting projects are you working on?

In January of 2017, the WHRI in collaboration with NUCATS will be hosting a workshop which will highlight sex-inclusive research and provide training on the NIH policy to include sex as a biological variable in biomedical and preclinical research. We have a pretty exciting agenda planned and look forward to bringing you additional details in the near future.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I love to travel! I have been fortunate enough to visit every continent with the exception of Antarctica.

Anything else we should know about you?

I am more than happy to act as a resource and mentor for students or post-docs interested in careers beyond the bench. Additionally, please don’t hesitate to contact me at or at (312) 503-1385 if there is any type of programming you would like to see hosted by the WHRI!  I’d love to hear from you!

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn.