Jessica Quistorff has long felt drawn to improving the health of women.
Her mother, a former Emergency Department nurse at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, N.J., and health manager of the Head Start program at a public school district in Connecticut, demonstrated the value of taking care of others.
“She instilled that in us,” Quistorff said of herself and her two siblings. “I knew I wanted to help the community in some way.”
As Women’s Health Research at Yale’s new Senior Program Manager, Quistorff embraces the opportunity to help change medical research and care to better address the needs of women and explore sex-and-gender differences between and among women and men.
“With so much uncertainty around the world and so many elevated risks in particular concerning the health of women, I am tremendously excited to be here,” she said. “I’m eager to contribute my skills and knowledge to the improvement of health and well-being of others.”
Quistorff comes to WHRY from Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she most recently managed the Developing Brain Institute Clinical Research Program. At the outset of the pandemic, she led efforts to enable staff to work from home and launch Project RESCUE, a study that deploys brain imaging to identify how maternal stress from COVID-19 could affect how a baby’s brain develops during pregnancy and after birth.
The women who volunteered for the study inspired Quistorff.
“Women are tough,” she said. “They enthusiastically left their homes to participate because they understood the value of this research to show us how we can improve mental health resiliency and give children the best possible foundation for health and happiness.”
Before joining Children’s National Hospital, Quistorff served as a research study specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Breast Medicine Clinical Trials Office in New York and earned her master’s degree in public health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She concentrated on sexuality and sexual and reproductive health.
“We also studied ethics and how to avoid the missteps of the past, such as the persistence of racial disparities in health care and studies that have not properly served the health needs of marginalized communities,” she said. “It’s important to teach this history and engender proper values in the next generation of medical providers.”
A graduate of the University of Connecticut, she also saw WHRY as a unique chance to move closer to her family in the state while contributing to a mission she found perfectly aligned with her career goals.
“Women’s Health Research at Yale seemed like everything I had been working toward,” she said. “I could hardly believe my good fortune. I get to work in my field, continue to explore my passion for women’s health, and be closer to my family.”
And she is excited to continue making a difference in people’s lives.
“WHRY is such a passionate center with a practical mindset,” she said. “It’s nice to be in a place where everyone knows what tasks we must accomplish, that every step counts, and that this is how we get the job done.”