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A Thank You Letter to Women in Research...

Growing up in middle America in the 1980s, Clinical Research was not exactly a hot topic around the local watering holes. The last thing you might expect to find in a small, one-stop light town in rural Ohio would be two women changing the face of Oncology. Dr. Paula Wiesenberger & Nurse Clinician Mary Little, my mother, did just that. In an era when it was not uncommon for moms to stay at home after having children, Dr. Paula’s practice boasted an office full of diverse women. As a clinician, my mother often advocated for patients to take part in clinical trials. Mom traveled the country going to conferences and learning more about how to best fit her patients with ongoing trials. Mom read scientific journals like some people read the Sunday paper. Growing up around these brave & intelligent women encouraged me to seek knowledge in every avenue of my life.

When I went to college at Miami University in Ohio, again I was met with strong female leaders. In the research labs & classrooms of Doctors Sree Subedi, Gina Petonito, Jacque Daugherty, Virginia Wickline, and many others, I learned the value of insightful research and its impact on a changing world. These women are pioneers in their given fields & beacons of change within their communities. They taught me how to apply ethical research principles and a tenacious hunger for knowledge to everyday life. These Doctors molded and guided student research initiatives and encouraged self-authorship in young women. Additionally, they developed DEI initiatives in their own labs and were able to reach a diverse student population by deploying universal design in the classroom. These incredible women of research have taught a generation of talented young professionals to seek out & design inclusive data & research.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that I found my way back to research in 2022. When Dr. Shishuka Malhotra offered me the position of Community Outreach Director at Neuro Behavioral Research (NBR), I was all too happy to accept. Dr. Malhotra, or “The Doc”, as we lovingly call her around the office, is an investigative dynamo! Through 20+ years of experience in Psychiatry and Clinical Research she has earned a wealth of knowledge. Much like the strong women who mentored me in my youth, Dr. Malhotra founded Neuro Behavioral Research with the utmost dedication to conducting research with integrity, ethics, and inclusivity. Her passion to inspire other young female researchers is undeniable.

In an industry that is still predominantly male, Dr. Malhotra’s staff is one of the most diverse in the region. She is unafraid to hire young coordinators and train them in ethical and inclusive research principles. At NBR, we are changing the face of research--not only by conducting impactful studies to bring cutting edge therapies to market, but also by encouraging young female researchers to follow in our footsteps. As women, it can often feel that we must compete against one another to represent one or two female positions in an office. Working for the Doc is the exact opposite. She has intentionally and thoughtfully created a diverse & cohesive team.

Thank you, Dr. Malhotra, Dr. Wiesenberger, my Miami Professors, and, of course, my Mom. Learning from such incredible women has been an honor and pleasure (even when the lessons were tough to swallow). The work you do inspires me to be a better professional and parent. It is because of YOU that the future of Clinical Research will continue to feature bright young women for generations to come.

About the author: Molly Little is the Community Outreach Director for Neuro-Behavioral Research & the Ohio Center for Hope. Molly is an advocate for minority communities who originates from Cincinnati, Ohio. For more on this article, contact Molly at

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