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October 2009 Issue

Litsa Kranias, PhD, has been named a 2009 American Heart Association Distinguished Scientist.
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Department Chair Named Distinguished Scientist

Published October 2009

Working in an industry dominated by men can be intimidating for a woman. Litsa Kranias, PhD, can tell you from experience—30 years of experience, in fact.

Kranias worked in the department of pharmacology and cell biophysics at the UC College of Medicine as a young scientist and rose through the ranks to become chair of the department in 2008. She became the director of cardiovascular biology in 1995 and a Distinguished Research Professor at UC in 2004.

Most recently, she was designated an American Heart Association (AHA) Distinguished Scientist, an honor received by fewer than 50 researchers nationally and only three other women previously, for her extraordinary contributions to cardiovascular and stroke research.

She will receive the award at the AHA Scientific Sessions 2009 to be held Nov. 14–18 in Orlando, Fla.

“This is a tremendous honor,” says Kranias. “It shows the high respect of my colleagues for my work and my contributions, and that is a great reward for all of the time and effort I have invested in my research.”

With all of these successes and many more accomplishments under her belt, how does Kranias find time to do anything else? 

She says it’s possible to be successful and do what you love and also have a life outside of your work.

“It’s important to show women that they can do it all,” says the wife and mother of two.  “You can be a professional and have a family. There are many, many sacrifices and choices along the way, but it can be done.”

Kranias feels that it is very important to support young women in all professional fields, but especially science.

“There are very few women who are in the upper echelons of science, so it is very important to promote and support women to attain those high levels,” she says.

Kranias, who did not have a mentor when she was a young scientist, feels that it is very important for young women to have strong female supporters to guide them while they find their place in the scientific world.

“This is an extremely important thing—a dear thing to my heart. I have always worked very hard in my labs, at UC and elsewhere, to make sure that I support and guide younger women to help them achieve their goals,” she says.

 “These young women need to know first-hand how it can be done,” she says. “They need an-swers and reassurances for things that make them feel conflicted.

“They need to know how to cope when their kids have chickenpox or when they get a call from school,” she continues. “They need to know how to keep a stable marriage and how all of these factors impact their science. They need encouragement that it can be handled and that they can still be successful.”

Kranias, a picture of success and role model for young women across the country, hopes that her success will inspire and motivate future female scientists to go after their dreams and do what they love.

“I feel like I get paid to do what I love to do,” she says. “I am extremely lucky. Extremely blessed.”

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