Lydia Pleotis Howell, a national leader known for her work to improve women's health, will receive the American Society of Cytopathology’s most prestigious honor, the Papanicolaou Award, at the annual scientific meeting in Phoenix on Nov. 12.
Howell is professor and chair of pathology and laboratory medicine at UC Davis Health who has pioneered methods for cervical cancer screening and advocates for high quality screening, early detection and diagnostic services for breast and cervical cancers. A member of many state and national advisory boards and work groups, she has contributed to the development and application of liquid-based, thin-layer Pap testing and computer-assisted Pap screening, methods that have become standard cytologic practice. She continues to collaborate with scientists in biophotonics, engineering, radiology and other disciplines to develop innovative tools and programs to improve health and access to care.
At UC Davis she founded the Cytopathology Fellowship Program, and more recently established a cytotechnology training program in collaboration with the University of Nebraska to meet regional workforce needs and support staff career growth and advancement.
Leader in work-life balance, career advancement
Howell is also recognized nationally for her leadership and innovative approaches to improve work-life balance for faculty and staff.
The first to be appointed associate dean of academic affairs at UC Davis, Howell drew on her own experience, rising through the faculty ranks while raising a family to help guide the establishment of flexible, family-friendly career development policies for faculty. These include addressing inequities among career tracks, mentoring faculty across generations and developing innovative mission-based reporting tools to reward effort.
Her work has served as a model for the 10-campus University of California system, as well as academic health centers and other organizations nationwide.
She is a co-principal investigator on a recently completed study examining the effect of flexible career policies on academic biomedical careers and was an advisor to the American Council on Education on career flexibility for medical faculty. She cofounded UC Davis' award-winning Women in Medicine and Health Sciences program to ensure the full participation and success of women in all roles within academic medicine and is a founding member of the school's mentoring academy to support the advancement of junior faculty.
Howell received her medical degree at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She completed her residency and fellowship training under cytopathology pioneers Irena Koprowska at Temple University Hospital and Tilde Kline at Lankenau Hospital in Philadelphia. She has published more than 85 journal articles, in addition to many books, chapters and guidelines. She has held many American Society of Cytopathology leadership roles, including foundation chair from 2005-2009 and president from 2011-2012.
The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine includes 40 faculty members and 400 academic and clinical staff who develop and deliver comprehensive diagnostic testing for Northern California, conduct leading-edge research and provide interdisciplinary education.