Women in OEM

A Tradition of Excellence

Harvard has a long legacy of women who have excelled in the field of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Every year, the New England College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (NECOEM) recognizes an “individual who exemplifies and advances the highest ideals of occupational and environmental medicine” by honoring them with the Harriet Hardy Award. Below are Harvard affiliates and recent program graduates who have gone on to make lasting contributions to the field.

Alice Hamilton photo

Alice Hamilton, MD (1869-1970)

Many of the first laws and regulations passed to improve the health of workers were the direct result of the work of one dedicated and talented woman, Alice Hamilton, MD. Born into a prominent family in Indiana, Dr. Hamilton graduated from medical school at the University of Michigan in 1893. After accepting a teaching position at the Women’s Medical School of Northwestern University in 1897, she moved into Jane Addams’ Hull House in Chicago, where she lived with immigrants and the poor. As she provided medical care, she came to realize that jobs were a major source of injury and illness for workers and their families. For example, men who worked with asbestos or lead exposed their families through the work clothing they brought home to be washed. There she opened a well-baby clinic for poor families in the local settlement house neighborhood. As she acquainted herself with the families, she learned of their pains, strange deaths, lead palsy, “wrist drop,” and of the high numbers of widowed women. Encouraged by the reformers of Hull House, she began to apply her medical knowledge to these social problems and thus began her scientific inquiry into occupational health for which she became known.

Dr. Hamilton quickly realized that while some progress in understanding occupational illness and disease was being made in Europe, little was written or understood about occupational disease conditions in the U.S. In 1908, she published one of the first articles on occupational disease in this country and was soon a recognized expert on the topic. Starting in 1910, under the sponsorship initially of a commission of the State of Illinois, and later the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, she conducted a series of brilliant explorations of occupational toxic disorders. Relying primarily on “shoe leather epidemiology,” and the emerging laboratory science of toxicology, she pioneered occupational epidemiology and industrial hygiene in the U.S. Her findings were so scientifically persuasive that they caused sweeping reforms, both voluntary and regulatory, to improve the health of workers.

In 1919, Dr. Hamilton was appointed Assistant Professor of Industrial Medicine at Harvard Medical School and became the first female faculty member at Harvard University. There she served two terms on the Health Committee of the League of Nations. She moved to the Harvard School of Public Health upon its founding and chaired the Department of Industrial Medicine. While she was considered to be the best candidate for the position, the University was against the idea of a woman educating men, as the predominant idea at the time was that only men can educate men. But the School of Public Health’s leaders persisted, and eventually the University accepted her on their faculty in Industrial Medicine. The department would eventually give birth to the training program in Occupational and Industrial Medicine. When she retired from Harvard at the age of sixty-six, she became a consultant to the U.S. Division of Labor Standards and served as President of the National Consumers League.

Joseph Brain, Cecil K. and Philip Drinker Professor of Environmental Physiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, co-authored the book The Education of Alice Hamilton. For more information on the book, please visit here. For more information on Alice Hamilton, please visit NECOEM (New England College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine).

Photo and biography adapted from: CDC NIOSH

Harriet Hardy photo

Harriet Hardy, MD (1906-1993)

Harriet L. Hardy (1906-1993) was a student of Dr. Alice Hamilton and a pioneer in the field of occupational medicine. She was also the first woman professor at Harvard Medical School. She attended Wellesley College and medical school at Cornell University and completed residency training at Philadelphia General Hospital. Her investigation into the respiratory illness among workers making fluorescent lamps at the General Electric and Sylvania plants on Boston’s north shore led to the revelation of the harmful effects of beryllium exposure, leading to precautions allowing safer use of beryllium. She also worked with the Atomic Energy Commission in Los Alamos, N.M. to study the hazards associated with nuclear energy. She was also among the first to link asbestos and cancer. She also held leadership roles at the Atomic Energy Commission, United Mine Workers, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Featured Alumnae

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Rose Goldman, MD, MPH (OEMR Class of 1981)

Dr. Goldman is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her career started as a medical resident when did a rotation with the inspiring Dr. Irving Selikoff, who showed her a career path that could combine her interests in the environment with a passion to help workers. She then went to the newly created preventive medicine (occupational/environmental medicine) program at HSPH in 1979-1981. From there, she crafted a position that combined internal medicine and occupational & environmental medicine at Cambridge Hospital, while also serving part time as the occupational health physician for the Massachusetts Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Health—following in the footsteps of Dr. Harriet Hardy who held that same position where she did her seminal beryllium research. Dr. Goldman started the occupational and environmental health program at Cambridge Hospital, and was the founding Chief of the Division of OEM at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA). Early in her career she and other colleagues created a new model for delivering clinical occupational medicine: an academically affiliated occupational/environmental medicine clinic that serves the community: workers, companies, unions, and hospital/health centers. This model spread and lead to the creation of Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC). In 2010 she transitioned from CHA’s Chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine to become the Department of Medicine’s Director of Faculty Affairs. In her career, she has combined clinical occupational and environmental medicine with public health, research, and education. Her clinical practice has a focus on environmental toxicology, particularly metals (lead) and she has authored numerous publications. She has brought attention to pediatric environmental health issues and has served as the Associate Director for the New England Pediatric Environmental Health Special Unit. As an ardent and experienced educator, she has held course leadership positions at Harvard’s Schools of Public Health and Medicine, and developed and implemented educational innovations involving participatory education methods.

What she likes about OEM: Dr. Goldman likes the opportunities for clinical assessment, particularly toxicological; preventive medicine interventions, teaching, research, and advocacy.

Photo of Carolyn Langer

Carolyn Langer, MD, JD, MPH (OEM Class of 1993)

Carolyn Langer (OEMR ’93) has an extensive career as a physician executive, currently serving as the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Fallon Health, a regional health plan headquartered in Massachusetts.  Prior to that, she held the positions of CMO at the Massachusetts Medicaid program (MassHealth) for over five years, VP and CMO of ManagedComp (a managed care workers’ compensation company), and other senior clinical leadership roles at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, and the Tufts Health Care Institute.

Dr. Langer is an Instructor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), where she teaches graduate and continuing education courses and sits on the HSPH Occupational Medicine Residency Advisory Committee.  She also holds an appointment as an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and sits on the Advisory Board for the Health Policy and Management Department at the Boston University School of Public Health.  In 2018 Dr. Langer co-founded Pathways to Inclusive Health Care (PIHC), an innovative gap year program that enables post-baccalaureate, pre-health professions students to gain experience working with individuals with disabilities, particularly those with autism and intellectual disabilities.  Housed within the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at UMass Medical School, the PIHC program is creating a pipeline of future healthcare professionals who will make a difference in closing the health equity gap for those with disabilities.

Dr. Langer received her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College and completed her residency in occupational medicine at the Harvard School of Public Health. She also holds a law degree and a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University. In 2012 she received the Boston Business Journal Champion in Healthcare Award (Administrator category).  In 2016 she received the HSPH Annual Leadership in Public Health Practice Award.  In 2020 she received the Occupational Medicine Residents teaching award.  Dr. Langer is a retired Colonel and former flight surgeon and hospital commander in the Army National Guard.

What she likes about OEM: Dr. Langer was attracted to occupational medicine due to the variety of focus areas offered by this discipline, such as direct patient care, preventive medicine, health promotion and worker productivity, disability management, research, and education.  In reality, occupational medicine physicians have been practicing “population health” long before this term was coined.  She further appreciates the range of available work settings, including, but not limited to, clinical, administrative, academic, corporate, government, and military.

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M. Christine David, DO, MPH (OEMR Class of 2012)

M. Christine David, DO, MPH is a native New Yorker who majored in languages in New York University. She completed her medical training at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. After some training in family medicine, Christine pursued her passion for public health, completing Preventive Medicine Residency at University of Massachusetts Medical Center, where she also earned her Master’s in Public Health. Christine explored such avenues of interest as obesity, health disparities and maternal-child health issues – topics which served as the source of her preventive medicine research project. A clinical rotation in occupational medicine, however, proved to be a pivotal point in her career; it provided her with the ability to combine her two loves of preventive health practices with direct patient care. She continued her training at the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency of the Harvard School of Public Health (Class of 2012). During her time at HSPH, she developed an interest on workplace wellness and health promotion while researching methylmercury as an environmental reproductive hazard. Christine has worked in the urgent care setting and such occupational medicine practices as Concentra and Quadrant Health Strategies, all of which allowed her to deepen her clinical skills. As the medical director of the Working Well Clinic in Boston Medical center, she led the annual Flu vaccination and Tuberculosis Screening campaigns in addition to leading the clinical staff in providing quality clinical care to the 11,000 employees of the site. In 2017, Christine joined the medical team at Proctor & Gamble. She is the Senior Physician and Medical Site Leader for P&G Gillette in the South Boston and Andover sites where she provides primary care services to the employees in addition to collaborating with site leadership to ensure the health and safety of Gillette employees.
Alumnus Liz Kwo

Liz Kwo, MD, MBA, MPH (OEMR Class of 2017)

Liz Kwo, MD, MBA, MPH has more than 15 years of experience specializing in healthcare technology product development and commercialization, marketing and sales, strategic partnerships, and post-merger integration. She currently serves as Staff Vice President of Clinical Data Analytics at Anthem. Prior to Anthem, Dr. Kwo served as CEO and co-founder of InfiniteMD, a telemedicine company connecting patients with physicians for second opinions. She previously worked in remote patient monitoring for Medtronic, American Well as the Vice President of Provider Networks for telehealth and is an active angel investor in the healthcare community. She founded multiple venture-backed companies in educational technology (sold to CVC private equity firm in 2014), digital healthcare, and is on the Board of Flexion Therapeutics, a public biopharmaceutical company advancing treatment for musculoskeletal conditions. Dr. Kwo earned a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University and her MD from Harvard Medical School. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPH from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. She completed her residency in Preventive Care at Harvard Preventive Care and is Board Certified in Preventive Care and Occupational Medicine.
Alumnus Leslie Cadet

Leslie R. Cadet, MD, MPH (OEMR Class of 2019)

Leslie R. Cadet, MD, MPH is a native Floridian who completed her medical education and internship training at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine/Jackson Memorial Hospital. She is an accomplished Air Force Veteran whose work as a Flight Surgeon aided in the successful execution of 1,080 combat missions and 2,000 airlift missions in support of Operations INHERENT RESOLVE and ENDURING FREEDOM. During her time at Harvard, Leslie served in a variety of roles.  She was selected as the Chief Resident and as a member of the Aviation for Health research team, she examined the performance of commercial airline pilots during flight simulations. Leslie is currently an Attending Physician at the Loma Linda University Medical Center Occupational & Environmental Medicine Residency Program, where she enjoys teaching residents and providing high quality clinical care to diverse worker populations.

Leslie’s favorite part of OEM is the detective work involved in determining causation. Excelling in this area makes her a strong advocate for both the worker and the employer. She also enjoys learning about the details of her patients’ work, as it gives her a greater appreciation for the contributions they make towards the successful functioning of our society.