Former UCLA physician claims gender discrimination forced her from leadership position

A former physician at Los Angeles-based UCLA Health said she was forced from her position as director of the medical school's lymphoma program because the school's male administration did not acknowledge her complaints of age and gender discrimination, MyNewsLA.com reports. 

Lauren Pinter-Brown, MD, 63, an expert in T-cell lymphoma research, is the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California. Dr. Pinter-Brown's complaint, which alleges age-based harassment and discrimination and gender discrimination, is being heard by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury.

Dr. Pinter-Brown, who became director of the lymphoma program in 2005, alleges she was repeatedly criticized for her clinical trial work by a subordinate physician, Sven De Vos, MD, PhD. Dr. De Vos allegedly also turned his back to her during a meeting and frequently interrupted her. "I was trying to establish myself as someone who was respected," she said. "It was like the butt of a joke."

However, a lawyer for the regents argued the conflict between Dr. Pinter-Brown and Dr. De Vos primarily stemmed from their different ideas about how clinical trials should be conducted.

The lawyer said several medical committee members became concerned about how Dr. Pinter-Brown's trials were proceeding, resulting in a suspension of her research privileges in June 2012. Dr. Pinter-Brown's research privileges were reinstated in October 2013, but she left UCLA Health for UC Irvine in December 2015.

When asked by her lawyer if she had attempted to resolve conflicts with Dr. De Vos, Dr. Pinter-Brown said he was not approachable. "He'd shut me up pretty quick," she said. However, Dr. Pinter-Brown said Dr. De Vos was "very collegial" with male physicians.

Additionally, Dr. Pinter-Brown said she made as much as $250,000 less than her male peers, but one physician said her pay was below what men received because she had a nurse practitioner.

Outside the university setting, Dr. Pinter-Brown said she received praise for her work at medical conferences and physicians and patients across the globe consulted with her. "It was like night and day," she said.

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