VCU Institute for Women's Health



Executive Director

Susan Kornstein, MD

Susan G. Kornstein, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the VCU Institute for Women's Health, designated a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  She is Director of Clinical Research in the Department of Psychiatry and has served as Director of the VCU Mood Disorders Institute, Medical Director of the VCU Clinical Trials Office, Chair of the VCU Division of Outpatient Psychiatry, and VCU Health System Board Member, a gubernatorial appointment.

Dr. Kornstein is an internationally recognized researcher and thought leader with expertise in depression and women’s mental health. She has been a principal investigator on more than 90 research studies in the areas of depression, anxiety disorders, premenstrual syndrome, and sexual dysfunction. She is currently co-Principal Investigator on a $3 million ADVANCE-IT grant funded by the National Science Foundation focused on increasing recruitment, retention and advancement of diverse women faculty. She published the first large study showing sex differences in antidepressant treatment response for depression and the first large study of an antidepressant for the treatment of peri- and postmenopausal depression, as well as the first large study of symptom-onset antidepressant dosing for premenstrual dysphoric disorder.  She was an investigator in the landmark STAR*D depression study funded by the National Institute for Mental Health and was a Regional Center Director for the NIH Depression Trials Network. She edited the first comprehensive textbook on women’s mental health (Women's Mental Health: A Comprehensive Textbook, Guilford Press), and recently co-chaired a task force for the National Network of Depression Centers and the North American Menopause Society that developed the first set of guidelines for the evaluation and treatment of perimenopausal depression. She has authored more than 200 scientific journal articles, chapters, and abstracts, and has given many invited presentations at national and international meetings.

Dr. Kornstein is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Women's Health, President of the Academy of Women’s Health, Chair of the Annual Congress on Women’s Health, and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for the American Society for Clinical Psychopharmacology. She is a past member of the NIH Advisory Council for Research on Women’s Health, Past President of the International Association for Women’s Mental Health and Past President of the North American Society for Psychosocial Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a member of the American College of Psychiatrists. She has been a consultant to the U.S. Surgeon General, DHHS, and NASA on women’s mental health concerns and serves on a number of national advisory boards. She has given over 100 media interviews, including the New York Times, CNN, U.S. News and World Report, Science Magazine, and numerous women’s magazines.

Dr. Kornstein has been the recipient of several awards for her research, service, and leadership, including a Distinguished Service Award from the Psychiatric Society of Virginia, a Research Scientist Award from the MCV Foundation, Best Doctors in America, the VCU Women in Medicine and Science Professional Achievement Award, the YWCA Outstanding Woman Award for Health and Science, JWI’s Woman to Watch Award, the Lilly Welcome Back Award, MM&M’s HealthCare Transformer Award, and the American Medical Women’s Association’s Lila Wallis Award for contributions to women’s health.

Dr. Kornstein attended college and medical school at Brown University and completed her residency training and a fellowship in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry at the Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University.  She is also a graduate of the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute and the Drexel Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program.


Deputy Director

Dace Svikis, PhDDr. Svikis is a Professor in the Departments of Psychology, Psychiatry and Obstetrics/Gynecology at VCU. She also serves as Deputy Director, VCU Institute for Women’s Health and Director of the AWHARE Program (Addiction and Women’s Health:  Advancing Research and Evaluation).  More recently, she has assumed a leadership role in the development of an Academy of Mentors for VCU with a focus on creating a solid institutional infrastructure that supports faculty and students in the conduct of interdisciplinary clinical and translational research. Dr. Svikis’ own research efforts have focused on identification and treatment of perinatal addiction, with specific attention paid to both the clinical and economic efficacy of alternative intervention strategies. From 1992-1999, while a member of the faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, she directed an interdisciplinary treatment program designed specifically to meet the unique needs of pregnant drug dependent women and their children. More recently, her research interests have broadened, with a focus on the translation of research to clinical practice and the study of alternative strategies to facilitate bridging this gap in the field of addictions and more broadly in women’s health.  She has over 100 publications and serves on a variety of NIH study sections and journal editorial boards. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and chairs the Credentials Committee, and she is committed to encouraging transdisciplinary research through projects that bring together faculty and students from psychology, social work, public health, medicine, OB/Gyn, psychiatry and nursing among others.

Her current research projects include a NIH-funded randomized clinical trial of an intervention for HIV/STD prevention in pregnant substance abusing women, a CDC-funded project that seeks to improve patient compliance with prenatal care using an intervention model that includes health system navigators, behavioral incentives and practitioner training in patient communication and cultural diversity, a NIDA-funded RCT that compares computer-directed and counselor-delivered screening and brief intervention models in men and women attending a primary care clinic; a multi-site study of HIV rapid testing and counseling strategies to encourage patient testing; and several NIH- and foundation-funded studies of novel interventions for pregnant and post-partum women and their children.  


Director of Professional & Community Education

Nan O'Connell, MD

Dr. Nan G. O’Connell is an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the generalist division at Virginia Commonwealth University. She maintains a busy clinical practice with special interest in guiding women through the menopausal transition, contraception, and group prenatal care. She is involved in both resident and medical student education at VCU medical center also serving as a mentor. 

Dr. O’Connell received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University, her medical degree from the University of Virginia, and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at VCU. She was a partner in a large group practice in Richmond, Virginia for a number of years before returning to academic medicine in 2008.


Nurse Educator, Women's Health Administration

Valerie is a Women’s and Children’s Health Educator. She earned a Master’s of Science in Nursing from Duke University, and has been a nurse for 37 years.  Valerie is a Certified Lactation Consultant, a Certified Childbirth Educator, and a Fellow in the American College of Childbirth Educators.  She is currently the team leader at VCUHS for the Best Fed Beginnings Learning Collaborative, a national initiative to improve outcomes for mothers and babies.  She was on faculty for the School of Nursing at  UNC Chapel Hill and Virginia Commonwealth University and worked as an infant transport nurse in the NICU in Chapel Hill, N.C. and a preceptor in labor and delivery at VCUHS.  Valerie serves on the Virginia State Advisory Council on Breastfeeding, the State Task Force on Breastfeeding,  and the Mayor’s Commission on Breastfeeding in Richmond, VA, and is the Lamaze International representative on the United States Breastfeeding  committee Advisory Board.  Professional affiliations for Valerie include Lamaze International, International Lactation Consultant Association, Central Virginia Nurse Staff Development, and Sigma Theta Tau and has served on the Board of District 5 of Virginia Nurses Association.  She is a graduate of the Nurse Leadership Academy.


Medical Director of Clinical Services, Women's Health Center, Stony Point

Lisa Ellis, MS, MD, CCC

Associate Professor Internal Medicine and Ob/GYN; Executive Director of Clinical Services, VCU Women's Health Center, Stony Point; Governor, American College of Physicians Virginia  

Dr. Ellis is a full time faculty member at VCU in the Office of Strategic Initiatives. She has been the Medical Director for the Women’s Health Clinic at Stony Point and now oversees all clinics at that outreach facility clinic as well as all hospital based and ancillary services. Dr. Ellis received her MS degree in Speech and Language Pathology from the University of Wisconsin and MD degree from VCU School of Medicine.  She completed a residency at VCU Medical Center in Internal Medicine-Women’s Health. 

She was recruited by Sanford Health University Health System in the Midwest to be the Administrator/Director and founding developer of the Sanford Health Women’s Plaza. At Sanford Health she was the Deputy Director for a demonstration Project for the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health in collaboration with the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.     

Dr. Ellis was appointed the medical student and residency representative for the state of Virginia for the American College of Physicians sitting on the Governor’s Council for five years in Virginia. During this time, two Evergreen awards were awarded to Virginia for projects and conferences she facilitated. The Evergreen award is a prestigious award given by the American College of Physicians to honor the development of new programs which promoted physician involvement.  She was again appointed to the council by the Governor in 2009 and became a fellow of the College at that time. She is currently is in an elected position as the Governor for Virginia of the American College of Physicians and will hold this position until 2016. Dr. Ellis has won a number of awards for Leadership including the Joseph E. Johnson Leadership award, an international award which recognizes qualities that enhance the effectiveness of health care by fostering excellence and professionalism in the practice of medicine. As a resident at VCU Medical Center she was the recipient of the Excellence in Leadership award given to a resident that demonstrates leadership at regional and national levels. One of the most meaningful awards given to Dr. Ellis was the Arthur Klein Memorial Award given to a resident at VCU chosen by their peers for their demonstration of compassion and excellence in patient care.

Dr. Ellis is currently the co-chair for the Women’s Health Congress National meeting and Chair of the National Centennial Annual conference for the American College of Physicians in Boston, 2015. She has given numerous invited seminars and lectures on women‘s health topics at the local and national level. She won the Foundations in Clinical Medicine Excellence in teaching award and continues to precept women’s health residents in the outpatient setting in their elective rotations.

Personally, Dr. Ellis’s husband is a dermatopathologist who practices in the Richmond community and also did his residency at VCU and they have two adult sons.  She is an avid archer, gardener, golfer and trained vocalist.


Special Projects

Janett Forte, MSW, LCSW

Currently Janett is working with the VCU Institute for Women’s Health part time on special projects. Her particular emphasis is on building and sustaining partnerships in the areas of global women’s health, domestic and sexual violence and community engagement. She holds a Clinical Assistant Professor faculty appointment with the Department of Psychiatry.

Previously she was an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where she served as program director for the VCU Institute for Women’s Health (IWH) for eight years. IWH was one of twenty national academic medical centers of excellence models providing innovative, comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and integrated health care systems for women. The Institute at VCU served as a catalyst for developing initiatives to improve women's health by fostering integration of clinical care, research, community engagement, professional education and women’s leadership development aimed at improving the health status of diverse women across the life span. Janett was instrumental in coordinating the Institute’s multifaceted initiatives aimed at improving women’s health in the community. She retired from full time work in June 2012.

Between June and December 2012, Janett served in the U.S. Peace Corps as a Response Volunteer working as a Drug Rehabilitation Planning Officer with the Department of Health-Malinao Treatment & Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines. In this assignment she worked with in-country staff to review existing programs and services; and to develop a comprehensive needs assessment to strengthen program services and activities.

Janett is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a recognized leader in the area of domestic and sexual violence with expertise in clinical intervention, training, public policy, research and systems change. She worked for over 30 years to increase awareness and education related to violence against women. Previously she coordinated services in Chesterfield County through the Domestic Violence Resource Center, an office she designed to provide leadership to county governmental criminal justice and human services agencies to strengthen the response to domestic violence. Janett was a Clinician with the Chesterfield Community Services Board substance abuse unit and a Shelter Coordinator for the Richmond YWCA. She is the recipient of the 2004 YWCA Outstanding Woman of the Year award in government/politics for her work in Chesterfield County to build a coordinated community response to domestic violence. As a social worker and activist, Janett has committed her career to women’s issues, human rights and social justice.

Janett currently volunteers by serving on the boards of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, and Midwives for Haiti. She also volunteers at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens and with the Richmond SPCA.

Janett has traveled extensively including service trips to Honduras, Haiti and Guatemala She participated in the Guatemala Human Rights Commission August 2009 violence against women delegation under the “For the Women’s Right to Live” campaign. This trip became the inspiration for the work she did in 2010 to develop what would become an annual VCU Midwifery and Health trip with the Highland Support Project, aimed at building partnerships to empower several Maya communities in their quest to enhance health access, education and services in the rural Valley of Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan.

She has also volunteered in Haiti, serving as part of several teams in the Central Plateau town of Hinche, working with Midwives for Haiti to improve prenatal care and birth outcomes for Haitian women and children. In 2014 she developed a formalized VCU-Haiti Maternal Health Partnership with Midwives for Haiti and received funding from the VCU Global Education Office (GEO) in 2014 & 2015 to support student study abroad projects in Haiti.

Mostly now she enjoys retirement, travel, and spending time with friends and family.


Chair of Professional Advisory Board

Judith Collins, WHNP

Ms. Collins retired in July 2000 after more than thirty years of service at VCU. Ms. Collins earned her B.S.N. from the University of North Carolina, M.S. in Maternal-Child Health Nursing from Boston University, and OB/GYN Nurse Practitioner Certificate from VCU. Throughout her nursing career, she has held positions in nursing services, administration and education. She served on the Hospital Ship HOPE in Nicaragua in 1966. She was also a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow in Washington, D.C. in 1982-1983 and worked in Congress in the Office of Congressman Richard A. Gephardt. Following the fellowship, Ms. Collins initiated the VCU Health Policy Office in the Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences to focus on governmental relations and health policy issues/education. She was Director of the Health Policy Office from 1983-1993.

Ms. Collins is a nationally known speaker, consultant, and writer in the areas of women's health care, health policy, and nurse practitioner issues. Ms. Collins co-authored a chapter in Primary Health Care of Women entitled "Women and the Health Care System." She has served on multiple Boards and Task Forces focused on health policy issues including infant mortality, maternal-child health, indigent care, and health professional standards.

Ms. Collins holds leadership positions in many community and professional organizations on the local, state and national levels. She was the first Chair of the National Alliance of Nurse Practitioners, National Vice President of NAACOG (AWHONN), Vice President of the National Certification Corporation (NCC) for Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nurses and the past Chair of the Virginia Capital Area March of Dimes.

She is currently a Board Member of the National Center for Certification Preparation and Review, a Trustee and Vice President of the MCV Foundation, Co-Chair of the Advisory Council of the YWCA, Board Member and Vice Chair of Women's Health Virginia, Board Member of the American College of Nurse Midwives Certification Council, Trustee of the Richmond Memorial Foundation, Board Member of the VCU Institute of Women's Health and Board Member of Centralized Credentials Verification Service, Inc. Ms. Collins is volunteering as a WHNP at Craig Health Center.

Ms. Collins is also a founding Board Member and Vice President of Women's Health Virginia, a statewide initiative to improve the health of women and girls in Virginia, that partners with VCU's Institute of Women's Health on education and outreach activities.

Ms. Collins' honors and awards include election as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nurses, Mabel Montgomery Outstanding Nursing Faculty Award, VCU Distinguished Faculty Service Award (first Woman), the National NAACOG Distinguished Professional Service Award, the Virginia Nurses Association 1990 Political Nurse of the Year Award, the 1991 YWCA Outstanding Women's Award of Greater Richmond in Health and Science, appointed by the Governor to serve on the Virginia Board of Nursing (1991-95), VCU Outstanding Alumni Award for 1993, 1994 VCU Woman of the Year, 1994 William Bruch, Judith B. Collins, RNC, MS, WHNP, FAAN M.D. Outstanding Nurse Practitioner Award, The National Association of Professionals in Women's Health 1998 National Excellence Award for Outstanding Comprehensive Women's Health Services, VCU School of Nursing 1999 Outstanding Alumni Award, and one of the 99 Outstanding Nurses in Virginia by the Virginia Nurses Foundation, the Virginia Nurses Association for 1999, the 1999 National Conference for Nurse Practitioners "Lifetime Achievement Award for 9 National Nurse Practitioner Leaders/Role Models", Virginia Nurses Association 20th Century Pioneer Award, and VCU Health System Employee of the Year for 2000. In honor of her retirement, an endowed Professorship in Women's Health was established at the VCU School of Nursing.

In retirement, Ms. Collins has remained very active as a volunteer on many University, community, state and national boards and foundations.


Research Scientist for Intimate Partner Violence

Candace Burton, PhD, RN, FNE

Dr. Burton leads the Institute for Women’s Health Work Group on Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault, and is the IWH Research Liaison to the VCU community on these issues. She co-directs the research and evaluation components of Project Empower, VCU’s collaborative organization dedicated to reducing the impact of these issues and providing services to victims of abuse and assault within the VCU and Richmond metro area communities. Her research focuses on the health effects of teen dating violence among young women, and she routinely reviews for professional journals in the areas of adolescent health, reproductive health, abuse and violence. She is a founding member of the Academy on Violence and Abuse, and a member of the Nursing Network on Violence Against Women, International. Dr. Burton holds a BA and BSN from the University of Virginia, and PhD from the University of California, San Francisco. She is an Assistant Professor of Family and Community Health Nursing at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing, and practices part time as a Forensic Nurse Examiner.

Dr. Burton is available to assist with:

  • Developing research projects on violence and abuse
  • Integrating violence and abuse content into your curriculum
  • Providing evidence-based educational content for all disciplines, at all levels
  • Conducting clinical education for your staff
  • Evaluating research, publications, or other content related to violence, abuse, and the associated stress responses in diverse populations


Research Scientist for Perinatal Mental Health

Sarah Kye Price, PhD, MSW, MS

Sarah Kye Price leads the Institute for Women’s Health research development group in perinatal mental health, and is the IWH research liaison for issues related to women’s mental health during and around the time of pregnancy. Dr. Price’s research and publications focus on women’s mental health promotion, particularly within low-income communities disproportionately affected by fetal and infant mortality. Dr. Price has been supported through the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research’s KL2 Scholar program which is a part of the NIH’s federal Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) infrastructure as well as the Institute for Women’s Health CBPR Seed Grant program.

In her current funded research projects she partners with maternal and child health home visiting programs in Virginia to infuse behavioral health risk screening and mental health promotion interventions into existing maternal and child health home visiting models. Dr. Price completed her PhD at Washington University in St. Louis where she was an NIMH Predoctoral Fellow in mental health services research. She has an MSW from Syracuse University, and a BSW from SUNY College at Buffalo. She is also a faculty graduate of VCU’s Clinical and Translational Science MS degree program. Dr. Price is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her prior research and practice experiences include Project Director of the Women’s Wellness Initiative of Missouri Bootheel Healthy Start, Grief Therapist with the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care in Buffalo, and Coordinator of SIDS Family Support Services both in Western New York and in the St. Louis, Missouri metro regions. 

Dr. Price is available to assist with:

  • Developing research projects supporting women’s mental health during and around pregnancy
  • Integrating perinatal mental health content into your curriculum
  • Enhancing education, services, and community support for low-income women and families
  • Providing evidence-based educational content for all disciplines, at all levels
  • Conducting clinical education for your staff
  • Evaluating research, publications, or other content related to the mental health and well-being of women and families during and around the time of pregnancy for relevance to the cultural, social, and spiritual practices of diverse populations.


Associate Professor Emeritus, VCU School of Medicine; Senior Deputy Director Emeritus, VCU Institute of Women's Health

Wendy S. Klein, MD, MACP

After pre-med studies at Columbia University, Dr. Klein received her medical degree from Case Western Reserve University and completed Internal Medicine residency training at the Medical College of Virginia. In 1988, she joined the MCV faculty in General Internal Medicine, and subsequently rose to numerous leadership positions within the Department of Internal Medicine and at the University.  In 1992, she co-founded the award winning VCU Women’s Health Center at Stony Point, where she was Medical Director for its first five years.

In 1997, Dr. Klein established and directed an innovative Internal Medicine residency in Women’s Health, which became a national model for interdisciplinary medical training. In 1999, she co-founded the VCU Institute for Women’s Health, which was recognized as a National Center of Excellence by the US Department of Health & Human Services, and the VCU Women’s Health Center. Active in numerous organizations, Dr. Klein is also the founding Past President of the Women in Science, Dentistry & Medicine (WISDM) Organization and is founding Chair of the annual multidisciplinary Women’s Health Congress, a scientific update for health care professionals, now educating 1000 clinicians annually and for which she is Scientific Program Chair. She currently serves on national committees for the American College of Physicians (ACP), the Sex and Gender Women’s Health Collaborative, and the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), and continues to actively mentor students, residents and faculty.

Dr. Klein has been recognized in Richmond Magazine’s listing of the “Top Docs in Richmond” and in The Best Doctors in America. In 2006, she received the VCU Women in Science, Dentistry & Medicine (WISDM) Professional Achievement Award. In 2005, she was honored to become Deputy Editor of the Journal of Women’s Health and she co-edited the Journal until 2011. After retiring from VCU School of Medicine, she helped to build primary care programs and protocols at both the local and national levels for Planned Parenthood and was VLPP Director of Primary Care Programs until 2014.

Dr. Klein remains actively involved in promoting excellence in medical education and in women’s health. In 2014, she received the designation of Mastership from the American College of Physicians, given to a highly select peer nominated group who are felt to be distinguished by the excellence and significance of contributions to the field of medicine and in 2015 she was the recipient of the Virginia ACP Laureate Award, in recognition of an abiding commitment to excellence in medical care, and education and in service to the community. Currently, she is Medical Director of the Fan Free Clinic in Richmond.







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updated: October 5, 2017