Sorkness Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Mentoring

In the realm of biomedical research, mentorship is key to developing a diverse, highly skilled workforce ready to take on large challenges in order to improve human health.

Accordingly, the importance of mentorship is woven throughout the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR), and ICTR is very proud to note that Senior Associate Executive Director for Workforce Development Christine Sorkness, RPh, PharmD, has been honored with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Slesinger Award for Excellence in Mentoring.

Dr. Chris Sorkness holds her award plaque while surrounding by smiling colleagues.
Surrounded by colleagues who turned out to help her celebrate, Dr. Sorkness holds her award.

On Nov. 28, Dr. Sorkness was presented with the award during a ceremony at the Pyle Center. Many of her campus colleagues turned out to help celebrate. Dean Robert N. Golden of the School of Medicine and Public Health was also honored with a Slesinger Award.

Named after Doris Peyser Slesinger, the accolade recognizes outstanding efforts by mentors who support women, trans, and non-binary assistant professors, guiding them on the path to tenure and fostering their career success. Learn more about the award and find the full list of 2023 nominees here.

Chris Sorkness and School of Pharmacy colleagues stand in front of a holiday tree at the Pyle Center.
Dr. Chris Sorkness stands with School of Pharmacy colleagues.

A group of more than 20 deeply appreciative health and medical scientists nominated Dr. Sorkness not only for her contribution to evidence-based mentorship practices that have been widely disseminated, but also for her own role as a mentor. While the nominators noted that her curriculum vitae reflected state, national and international leadership, they felt it was her wise advice, empathy, and kindness toward others that rose to the forefront.

“Dr. Sorkness has shared literally thousands of hours in deeply relational, transformational advocacy in professional and personal meetings,” they wrote. They described her as “a tireless advocate with all mentees, especially those historically underrepresented in medicine.”

Together with ICTR colleagues, her efforts have resulted in 75% of the 60-plus CTSA (Clinical and Translational Science Awards) research hubs embracing mentorship programs that were initially nurtured at ICTR.

Following the awards ceremony, Dr. Sorkness expressed gratitude to her colleagues for nominating her and especially the heartfelt testimonials they shared in their nomination letter. “I have been privileged by having great mentors and continue to benefit and learn from those individuals who have invited and trusted me to be one of their mentors. May we continue our efforts to advance mentoring for inclusive excellence,” said Dr. Sorkness.

Ron and Chris Sorkness smile at the awards event
Dr. Sorkness is pictured with her husband, Ron, an emeritus professor of the School of Pharmacy

Dr. Sorkness holds distinguished professorships in the School of Pharmacy and the School of Medicine and Public Health. She guided UW-Madison campus approvals for ICTR’s graduate programs in clinical investigation and developed graduate courses in the fundamentals of clinical trials and the responsible conduct of research. Learn more in her profile on the ICTR website.

Congratulations, Dr. Sorkness!


–Story by Jennifer Smith, ICTR