Appointment of Elizabeth A. Howell, MD, MPP, as Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

May 12, 2020

To:Faculty, Students, and Staff and UPHS Leadership

From:J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, and Kevin B. Mahoney

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Elizabeth A. Howell, MD, MPP, as Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn Medicine. Dr. Howell, a nationally recognized leader in quality of care and racial and ethnic disparities in maternal and child health, is currently a tenured professor and institutional leader at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Her appointment as Department Chair at Penn takes effect September 1.

Dr. Howell joined the faculty at Mount Sinai in 1999 and ascended through the academic ranks. She is currently a professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science, the Department of Population Health Science & Policy, and the Department of Psychiatry.

In addition to her decades of clinical service and teaching, Dr. Howell has assumed progressive leadership responsibility at Mount Sinai, including extensive experience in research administration and faculty affairs. Her current leadership roles include:  Director, The Blavatnik Family Women’s Health Research Institute; Associate Director, Center for Health Equity and Community Engaged Research; Associate Dean for Academic Development; and Vice Chair of Research.

Dr. Howell is a highly successful investigator with a long track record of funding. Her pioneering research focuses on postpartum depression and its impact on underserved communities and the intersection between quality of care and disparities in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Dr. Howell’s work has helped to shape national health policy and has been published in such high-impact journals as JAMA, JAMA Pediatrics, Health Affairs, American Journal of Public Health, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics & Gynecology.

In keeping with her impactful scholarship, Dr. Howell has served on numerous expert committees. This includes work with the Institute of Medicine, Joint Commission, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, international external scientific advisory boards, and NIH study sections. She has been a reviewer for New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and other leading journals and serves on the Editorial Board of the Maternal Child Health Journal. 

Dr. Howell was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She received her BS in Biological Sciences at Stanford University, graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1993, and competed a MPP at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  Subsequently she completed her residency at Cornell Medical Center, followed by a RWJ Clinical Scholars fellowship at Yale School of Medicine.

Dr. Howell’s appointment follows a national search led by George Cotsarelis, MD, Chair of the Department of Dermatology. We are grateful to Dr. Cotsarelis and the Search Committee for their thorough work to bring Dr. Howell to Penn Medicine and begin the next phase of leadership of this outstanding department.

Under the transformative leadership of Dr. Deborah Driscoll over the past 14 years, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has established itself as among the very best in the United States. In September 2019, Dr. Driscoll was appointed the Senior Vice President for the Clinical Practices of the University of Pennsylvania (CPUP) and Vice Dean for Professional Services in the Perelman School of Medicine.