Advancing Women's Health is a Family Tradition
Giving to Yale and advancing women’s health and opportunities for females are family traditions for Susan Lustman Katz, J.D., and Jonathan D. Katz, M.D.
Although they support a variety of organizations, Women’s Health Research at Yale holds a special place of importance in their giving.
“For me, this program is not optional; it’s a necessity,” said Susan, a founding member and former chair of our program’s advisory Council. “There are no programs quite like it. It’s a model. My hope is that eventually there are programs like this in every medical school in the country, and studying women’s health becomes a national priority.”
Susan is part of a family with a rich history of advancing women. Her mother, Katherine Lustman-Findling, an early child educator at Yale, was the first woman master of a Yale residential college (Davenport), and a guide and mentor to the first undergraduate women at Yale College. Her father, Dr. Seymour L. Lustman, was a renowned Yale psychiatrist who, as Susan put it, “loved strong, smart women” and “believed in women in science.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree at Sarah Lawrence College and a J.D. at the University of Connecticut Law School, Susan became a lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine, teaching research ethics to doctoral students. She also served as Director of the Human Investigation Committee at the medical school. In addition, Susan is a fellow of Davenport College, and chair of the board of directors of the Seymour L. Lustman Memorial Fund, which supports WHRY among other organizations and causes.
Her husband, Jon, considers himself a “Johnny come lately” when it comes to the issue of women’s health research. A Yale School of Medicine graduate, class of 1970, and now Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology at the school, he explained his comment this way: “When I entered the medical school in 1966 it was almost entirely a male world; there were only eight women in my medical school class.” Women’s health issues at the time did not extend much beyond obstetrics and gynecology.
But Jon’s perception changed dramatically, he said, after he heard Carolyn M. Mazure, Ph.D., Director of Women’s Health Research at Yale, speak about the historical lack of data on women’s health and the need for information on gender differences across the full spectrum of health concerns. “It really awakened me to shortcomings within my own specialty I hadn’t previously thought about,” he said. “This program (WHRY) is what is bringing this to light.”
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of receiving his Yale M.D., Jon dedicated a major portion of his class gift to Women’s Health Research at Yale. It is his hope that WHRY can become one of the standard options that a potential donor can choose for his or her class gift.
And the family tradition of advancing women’s health and supporting Yale is continuing with a new generation. One of the couple’s daughters, Naomi Katz Tepper, M.D., M.P.H., is a Yale School of Medicine graduate who is a Board Certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist. Naomi is Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Emory University and a Medical Officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. At the CDC, she is currently engaged in such work as determining and implementing recommendations and monitoring safety of vaccination against H1N1 influenza among pregnant women and developing the first federal guidelines for contraceptive safety in women with medical conditions.