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Dr. Janice Green Douglas





Year of Birth / Death

b. 1943


Medical School

Meharry Medical College


Geography

LOCATION
Ohio


Career Path

Internal medicine
Internal medicine: Endocrinology
Dr. Janice Green Douglas



Milestones

YEAR
1984
ACHIEVEMENT
Dr. Janice Douglas was the first woman promoted to or appointed to the rank of professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University Medical School.


Inspiration

I grew up in a medical environment, and thus developed an interest in medicine. My parents are medical professionals, my mother a retired dentist and my father a retired physician. I always had an interest in research as is typified by my successful competition in science fairs in high school and by majoring in chemistry in college. I participated in research initiatives throughout medical school and was co-author on two publications at graduation. Thus, my desire was always to be a successful physician scientist in an academic health center.



Biography

Dr. Janice E. Douglas, a fellow of the American Heart Association, decided to research hypertension and how cells control blood pressure after two of her mentors from medical school suffered strokes. She is professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, and as director of hypertension at University Hospitals of Cleveland and the university's Department of Medicine, she has received over $20 million in research funding.

Born in 1943, Janice Green grew up in a family of well educated women. Her maternal grandmother, who held degrees in English and music from Langston College in Oklahoma, helped raise Green while her parents, Louis and Electa Green, studied for their M.D. and D.D.S. degrees at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Janice Green attended Fisk University, graduating with top honors and a Phi Beta Kappa key, then followed her parents into medicine. She also graduated from Meharry, in 1968.

Dr. Douglas remained at Meharry to complete a residency and internship in internal medicine, and was named Intern of the Year in 1969. In 1971 she began a two-year National Institutes of Health fellowship in endocrinology at Vanderbilt University, where she also served as an instructor of internal medicine. At Vanderbilt Dr. Douglas compared the mechanisms of blood pressure control in African American and white populations to investigate hypertension. In 1973 she moved to Bethesda, Maryland, as a senior staff fellow for the National Institutes of Health's Section on Hormonal Regulation. In 1976, Dr. Douglas was recruited to join the faculty at Case Western Reserve University, and became a full professor in 1984. Dr. Douglas was the first woman promoted or appointed to the rank of professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University Medical School. When she received the appointment, the University's medical school had been in existence to close to 150 years. Of additional interest is the fact that Janice Douglas applied for admission to this medical school in 1963 because of her keen interest in research and her desire to become a well-trained physician scientist, but was denied admission for unclear reasons. In her research at Case Western, Dr. Douglas has used cellular and genetic approaches to study ethnic differences in how hypertension develops.

Less than 3 percent of physicians in academic medicine are African American, and Dr. Douglas serves as a role model for her medical students. She has supervised dozens of students in their Ph.D., and post-doctoral research. She and her husband, Thee Baltimore, also have two children who are now young adults pursuing their own professional careers.

Dr. Douglas is a member of numerous professional and academic societies, including the Institute of Medicine, the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. She has served on the boards of directors for the American Board of Internal Medicine and the International Society of Hypertension in Blacks, and is on the editorial review boards of numerous medical and scientific journals.



Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

Initially, my greatest challenge was to be accepted on a level playing field with male peers. This influenced my acceptance in medical school and interactions with my professors. Challenges were faced later that were equally daunting when I was a trainee in endocrinology at Vanderbilt. Some assumed that I was only there because I was a minority and female. Equally as challenging was the balancing act of having a family while competing successfully in medical school and during advanced housestaff and fellowship training.

How do I make a difference?

I serve as an important role model for trainees in medicine and basic science as a successful physician scientist involved in both clinical and basic research. Given the very low percentage of minorities on medical school faculties, my nurturing, encouragement, and financial incentives provide an excellent encouragement to trainees to overcome perceived barriers.

Who was my mentor?

I was steered toward research in hypertension when two of my early mentors were victimized by strokes. They were Dr. Robert Brown, a superb pulmonologist who greatly influenced my career choice in academic medicine, and Dr. Grant Little, who steered my course of training in endocrinology both at Vanderbilt and at the National Institutes of Health. When I was a junior faculty member, Dr. James Carter was extremely helpful in advising me about the critical choices that would make me a successful physician scientist.