In 1991, Dr. Vivian Pinn was named the first full-time director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A graduate of Wellesley College in 1963 and University of Virginia Medical School in 1967, Pinn joined the Tufts University School of Medicine in 1970. In 1982, she was named professor and chair of the department of pathology at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C.
Pinn grew up in modest circumstances in Lynchburg, Virginia, during the Jim Crow era. She attended segregated primary and secondary schools. When Pinn was nineteen years old, she lost her mother to bone cancer, an experience that sparked her determination to make a difference in women's health issues. In her current role, she helps to ensure that women’s health issues are a significant focus of NIH research efforts.
Pinn was the only African American and only woman in her class at University of Virginia’s School of Medicine in 1970. She was the first African American woman to chair an academic department of pathology, holding that position at Howard University’s College of Medicine. She is the first full time director of the ORWH at NIH. Pinn is a past president of the National Medical Association and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Pinn received the Dean’s Medal of Honor from Tufts University, their highest honor, for her service to the university and the medical community at large during her twelve-year tenure there.