Giselle López, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pathology
Duke University
AWIS member since 2021

“Diversity is needed across all fields of science and medicine.”

Giselle Lopez

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

Leadership is not about telling people what to do. It’s about identifying what motivates them, and finding ways to align their personal motivations with the goals of the organization.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?

During COVID, there were few clinical shadowing opportunities for pre-med students. I built a virtual shadowing program, so they could shadow from anywhere. Supporting trainees has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my career, on par with grants awarded or papers published.

What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why? What obstacles will you overcome?

My hope is to have a career that leads to new treatments, diagnostic, and prognostic markers for brain tumors. I want to help jump-start the careers of future physicians and future scientists. The biggest obstacle is figuring out how to “do it all”—get grants, be a physician-scientist, and mentor.

Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.

While I was still in training, I was offered a position at major university as a physician scientist. While it felt scary to start on faculty without having yet acquired my own independent research funding, I took the leap. I am so glad I did.

How was AWIS helped you professionally and/or personally?

The online resources provided by AWIS have been helpful in seeing how others have navigated the challenges that come with a STEM career, as well as to see regular examples of women excelling in STEM careers.

What is your favorite word? (only one word)


How do you define it?

To continue to work on something in spite of ongoing struggles and challenges. Being able to keep long-term goals in view and work towards them, even when progress is slow in the short term.

How has this word influenced or inspired your career?

MD-PhD training was a 9-year-long process for me. After college, I had over 13 additional years of being in training before I held my first “real” job. Perseverance and visualizing my own long term goals kept me going when I saw others advancing faster in their careers.

How does AWIS impact your career journey?

I enjoy browsing the career resources, which are helpful even for those of us not planning on exploring new positions. Skills like conveying confidence are useful at all career stages!

What are you currently reading or listening to?

The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo

What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?

Diversity is needed across all fields of science and medicine. Pick whatever field you are most excited about—you will make a difference and support your community, no matter what you ultimately decide to go into.

Giselle López, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Pathology at Duke University. In additional to clinical work, she does research on brain tumors, with a focus on a kind of brain tumor called oligodendroglioma. Her lab works to identify new therapeutic targets, as well as new prognostic markers. she is passionate about building diverse and inclusive spaces in science and medicine, in addition to providing mentoring to the next generation of scientists and physicians.