Director of Sarah Ross Soter Women’s Health Research Program announced in the first step toward improving women’s health care


Tamar Gur “It feels like all of my training and life experiences have led up to this moment.” - Tamar Gur, MD, PhD

Sarah “Sally” Ross Soter and the Soter Kay Foundation made a recent $15 million pledge to The Ohio State University College of Medicine to help improve women’s health. Since the announcement of this generous gift in May 2023, the Ohio State Board of Trustees has approved Tamar Gur, MD, PhD, associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavorial Health, Neuroscience and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Ohio State College of Medicine, as director of the Sarah Ross Soter Women’s Health Research Program for the next four years.

As a psychiatrist and neurologist, Dr. Gur plans to use her training and firsthand experience with female patients to focus the program goals. She specializes in caring for women suffering from depression and anxiety in the perinatal and postnatal phases of pregnancy and is recognized as a national expert in maternal fetal medicine. When Dr. Gur isn’t seeing patients, she studies the effect of prenatal stress on neurodevelopment to prevent and better treat psychiatric illnesses. This relationship between her clinical work and research drives her to devote herself to women’s struggles in a unique way.

“My work with pregnant patients coping with stress and its sequelae motivates me daily to find a new way to intervene that benefits them and their growing child,” Dr. Gur says. “Truly, the best way to set a person up for a lifetime of good health starts in utero, and prevention is key.”

In the next four years, Dr. Gur plans to research across the lifespan, focusing on pregnancy, cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and aging. Researchers in the program will follow in Dr. Gur’s footsteps of investigating the role of stress in female disease risks, while also developing interventions to mitigate those risks.

To execute these research goals, a crucial framework has been worked into Dr. Gur’s four-year plan as program director. This includes finding seed funding for teams of scientists and clinicians, recruiting world-class researchers, applying for grants and investing in the research infrastructure to make up for the years lost when female participants weren’t included in studies.

Carol R. Bradford, MD, MS, FACS, dean of the College of Medicine, believes the interdisciplinary nature of Dr. Gur’s work and leadership will inform the future of women’s health.

“Under Dr. Gur’s leadership, the program will become a leading hub for translational, interdisciplinary research that creates healthier futures for women across their lifespan,” Dr. Bradford says.

Already underway, new research published by Kartik Venkatesh, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a maternal fetal medicine specialist at the College of Medicine, has found that one’s community can have a monumental impact on cardiovascular health. This research shows that a mother’s exposure to social determinants of health such as racism, education, health care access, insurance or employment led to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease postpartum. Research like this, and those to follow it in the new Sarah Ross Soter Women’s Health Research Program, will pioneer diversity in health care.

When asked what others can do to improve women’s health, Dr. Gur says, “This is truly going to take a village! Everyone from clinicians who care passionately about women’s health to basic science researchers who have ideas on how to tackle disease – leaders with a desire to recruit and support clinicians and scientist who do this work – staff with ideas for programming, community outreach and educational programming. Basically, everyone who cares about women’s health – which should be everyone!”

Since her arrival at Ohio State in 2013, Dr. Gur has accrued a long list of achievements. Her accomplishments include:

  • Career Development Leadership Award, Anxiety and Depression Association of America
  • NARSAD Young Investigator Award, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
  • Ohio State College of Medicine Faculty Achievement Award
  • Transdisciplinary Scholar, March of Dimes, Ohio Collaborative
  • Landacre Research Honor Society Mentor of the Year
  • K08 Career Award, National Institute of Mental Health

Dr. Gur has also found time to appear as an author in more than 30 articles and four book chapters and obtain funding from two R01 grants from the National Institute of Mental Health.