From a very early age, Florence Haseltine knew the professional path she would eventually follow.
"By the time I was 5, I knew I was going to go to MIT and get a Ph.D.," said Haseltine, presidential distinguished professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at The University of Texas at Arlington. "That's what my dad had done, so that's what I was going to do."
Haseltine, who joined UTA in January of 2019 and also serves as the executive director of health research, met her childhood goal. Throughout her career, she has diligently worked to promote the advancement of women by being at the forefront of health technology, while leading the way for advances in contraception research and other health areas.
For her contributions, Haseltine will receive the PCOS Challenge Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association on September 20, 2019. The award "recognizes individuals who, during their lifetimes, have made contributions of outstanding significance to the advancement of women's health through service, education or research."
"I'm very honored," Haseltine said. "I am glad to know my efforts have been successful in ensuring the scientific community recognizes PCOS and women's health as serious issues."
From 1985 to 2012, Haseltine was the director of the Center for Population Research at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her role at NIH was to elevate obstetrics and genecology into "more of an academic profession," she said.
"Research institutions weren't producing very many reproductive scientists. I was one of three gynecology researchers at NIH. I decided we needed to have more representation in the research community. I was given that assignment and I took it very seriously."
In 1990 she founded the Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Research, a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting research on biological differences in disease and improving women's health through science, policy and education. In 1992 she founded the Journal of Women's Health.
Her work in women's health and reproductive sciences at NIH contributed to her election into the 1993 class of the National Academy of Medicine. In 2012, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award for the Health and Dignity of Women and Girls from the Friends of the United Nations Population Fund. That same year, Haseltine was named emerita scientist upon her retirement from NIH.
In 2015, while enjoying her retirement, Haseltine, who is also an inventor holding many patents, was elected as a fellow to the National Academy of Inventors. Her hiatus ended after she was approached by UTA President Vistasp Karbhari in the fall of 2018.
"Over breakfast, Dr. Karbhari told me about all the great things that were happening at UTA," she said. "I looked at him as I said, 'Are you recruiting me?' and he said, 'Yes.'"
"Florence has dedicated her career to championing women's health and the research programs that are essential to that fight," said UTA Vice President for Research Duane Dimos. "She is a leader and pioneer in the truest sense. We are fortunate she graciously agreed to come to UTA to expand our expertise in this area while working concertedly to help her fellow faculty members reach new levels of excellence and funding."
Now Haseltine spends her time focusing on expanding research programs in women's health, genomics and disability studies. Other duties include recruiting new faculty and other contributors, in addition to developing programs with available research capabilities and faculty.
"UTA educates for the community and for Texas," she said. "It exports to the rest of the world, but the people here feel like it belongs to them, and to me that's really fantastic."