Ruth Merkatz is the senior clinical advisor for the Population Council’s Reproductive Health program. Merkatz was previously the director of clinical development, overseeing the development of the Council’s reproductive health products and organizing and overseeing large-scale clinical trials required for the regulatory review process.
Merkatz collaborates with constituents from different phases of drug development—from principal investigators at clinical trial sites to donor partners, statisticians, and Council investigators—to achieve the shared goal of bringing innovative products to markets.
Before joining the Council in 2005, Merkatz directed the Women’s Health program at Pfizer, Inc. She previously worked at the FDA as the first director of the Office of Women’s Health. At the FDA, Merkatz led the effort for inclusion of women in all phases of clinical trials and evaluation of data for effects of sex and gender on drug safety and efficacy. While at the FDA, she was directly involved in the approval of the first female condom in the 1990s as well as the agency’s proactive activities to make emergency contraception available in the United States. She also ensured that all contraceptives provided labeling information to inform users about whether the contraceptive provided protection against STIs including HIV/AIDS.
Merkatz is a clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she has served as co-chair of the hospital’s bioethics committee. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and serves on multiple boards, including the Westchester County Board of Health and the scientific advisory board of the International Partnership for Microbicides. She has received many awards for her work on expanding awareness of women’s health needs, mammography services, AIDS drug development, and excellence in nursing—including the Health Policy and Legislation award from the Division of Nursing at New York University.
Merkatz holds a BSN from Cornell University, an MSN from Case Western Reserve University, and a PhD from Adelphi University. She has published numerous scientific papers and serves on the editorial advisory boards of Journal of Women’s Health, and Journal of Gender-Specific Medicine. She has presented at international conferences, such as the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the International Conference on Family Planning.