“One of the many things I admire about Lindsey,” says Sharon Chung, MD, an associate professor at UCSF, “is her amazing ability to work with people and to be very generous with credit and opportunity. Everyone’s ideas are equally valued, and there is a very easy exchange of thought and possibilities.”
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueDecember 2020
Also By This Author
Dr. Chung came to UCSF with two very specific interests—vasculitis and genetics—and the goal of bringing the two together. Dr. Criswell, then, because of her reputation in autoimmune disease genetics, was one of the reasons Dr. Chung applied to UCSF for her fellowship training. She joined the UCSF faculty in 2007 after completing her fellowship training with Dr. Criswell.
“When I discuss my mentor/mentee relationship with others across the country, it becomes clear that I had a very unique relationship. Lindsey was always very selfless and would do whatever she could to advance me moving forward. I hope I’m able to provide that for the people I work with as well.”
Dr. Criswell’s egalitarian leadership style also stands out for Cristina Lanata, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at UCSF, who notes that Dr. Criswell was one of the main reasons she chose UCSF for her fellowship training. “She was one of the few scientists doing population-based studies of epigenetics,” says Dr. Lanata, who was born in Peru and early on in medical school had identified lupus as her area of interest.
Dr. Lanata began working with Dr. Criswell during the second year of her fellowship and has been impressed with Dr. Criswell’s efficiency, positive work ethic and humanity. “She always wants to be a team player and help the science go forward. She’s passionate about our work and tries to support it as much as she can.” Dr. Lanata says her own research ideas have been unconventional and that she has always had full support from Dr. Criswell for pushing them forward.
Dr. Criswell says she had never felt disadvantaged by being female. Planning for a family brought some struggle over choices, she admits. Becoming a parent made her realize that one needs to pick a pursuit that is most compelling, and work to craft a balance between work and home life, by prioritizing and simplifying.
“I realized early on that becoming the traditional ‘triple threat’ academic—a fantastic clinician, teacher and researcher—wasn’t feasible, at least not for me,” she says. Referring to the aphorism, “it takes a village to raise a child,” she notes that, with twins “this is twice as true!” Knowing that she already gravitated toward teamwork, it made sense to her to “focus on the things I like to do most, and look to other people to fill in the gaps.”
Dr. Criswell is also an avid hiker and backpacker, and at one point obtained her certification as a first responder in wilderness medicine. She’s completed several fundraising hikes for the UCSF Rheumatology Fellowship Program, including the 72.2 mile High Sierra Trail, which includes Mount Whitney.
Dr. Criswell looks forward to the new challenges awaiting her as director of NIAMS. “I never imagined I’d be in this situation, but I’m thrilled and honored to have the opportunity,” she says.