Leading women are at the forefront of the oncology digital space

07.03.2023 | Insight

Leading women are at the forefront of the oncology digital space

March 8th 2023 marked International Women’s Day (IWD). The theme for this year is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. One intention of the United Nations’ is to “recognize and celebrate the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education“. In line with this goal, CREATION.co celebrates 5 female Digital Opinion Leaders. All are oncologists who are using digital means to educate their medical peers, and achieve social change or optimal medical practice. 

CREATION.co is the leading provider of Digital Opinion Leader (DOL) identification, profiling and activation. Having coined the term in 2012, we help the industry to identify which clinicians are truly leading the conversation online. Often different from the traditional Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) in a particular therapy area, DOL status is based on influence within the huge and fast-moving online healthcare provider conversation and reflects who the real online influencers are.

Top 5 female DOLs in oncology

Within the global online oncology conversation (English language), we identified the women who are the leading DOLs. These women include established opinion leaders, and women with emerging influence. They hold a range of professional roles, ranging from directors of eminent institutions, to younger oncologists. We use a number of metrics to evaluate DOL status, including volume of activity, reach of and engagement with content, the strength of their HCP peer network and level of trust and two-way collaboration with peers online.

Maryam Lustberg


Maryam Lustberg is Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the Center for Breast Cancer at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center, and Chief of Breast Medical Oncology at Yale Cancer Center. She has been recognised by Forbes as one of the top breast medical oncologists in the US and is president of the International Society of Multinational Association of Cancer in Supportive Care (MASCC). In a blog post, she explained how as a mum and prominent oncologist there are occasions when she has to compromise her ideal work-life balance, experiencing ‘mom guilt’ when she must leave her son for work responsibilities. Online, as well as celebrating the latest research in breast cancer and engaging at congress, she calls for a closed gap in health inequalities and championing fellow women in medicine. CREATION.co classifies Maryam Lustberg as an online expert, she translates her offline expertise to the online space. CREATION.co finds that approximately 20% of digital opinion leaders are also traditional ‘Key Opinion Leaders’ – Professor Lustberg is one of these.

Nicole Kuderer

Nicole Kuderer is a translational medical oncologist in the division of haematology, at the University of Washington Medical Center. Online, she shares outcomes of her research collaborations, updates the oncology network through @OncoAlert of current news and creates educational Twitter threads to inform her followers on issues such as gender bias. CREATION.co classifies Nicole Kurderer as a peer educator, reflecting the high level of engagement and trust she receives from HCPs; as measured by HCP retweets and mentions.

Stephanie Graff

Stephanie Graff is the Director of the Breast Oncology Program at Lifespan Cancer Institute, and Co-Leader of the Breast Cancer Translational Research Disease Group at Brown University. She is a prominent social media voice across multiple platforms, including Med-Mastodon (a server on Mastodon, created specially for medical professionals) where she shares the top trials and advances in breast cancer treatment. She has built a strong narrative of empowering women in medicine and in a campaign with ASCO (#LiveToConquerCancer) stated that her “role as an oncologist is to listen to her patients and set goals with them that reflect their values.” CREATION.co classifies Stephanie Graff as a social savvy, reflecting her degree of expertise in using social media to achieve maximum impact.

Erika Hamilton

Erika Hamilton is a medical oncologist and Director of the Breast & GYN Research Program at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute. Alongside her reputation in the medical field, she has chosen to describe herself as a wife and mom to two girls. When discussing her personal journey to oncology, Dr Hamilton shared that her “mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when [she] was in middle school and luckily is a survivor. [She is] passionate about personalised treatment, empowering her patients, and treating each person individually based on their goals and preferences”. CREATION.co classifies Erika Hamilton as a congress chatter, meaning that her voice is most prominent in the context of relevant congresses.

Ana I. Velázquez Mañana

Ana I. Velázquez Mañana is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the UCSF Division of Hematology/Oncology at Zuckerberg San Francisco General and a thoracic oncologist at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. She speaks proudly of her Latina culture and is passionate about diversity and inclusion in medicine. Online, she uses her platform to increase the narrative around inequities, sharing her experiences as a Latina woman in medicine. CREATION.co classifies Ana I. Velázquez Mañana as a diversity champion; she is also a peer educator.

Using influence for change

These women may be pursuing academic, management, or clinical careers, but what they have in common is an awareness of the power that social media has to influence medical practice.. Many are strongly committed to policy or social change.

Many women in medicine share opportunities to join together to learn and grow, including virtual webinars and meetings.

Knowing who the DOLs are in any given therapy area or market allows industry teams to understand who they are as people and professionals, what their goals and passions are as well as the unmet needs that they seek change for. There is an opportunity to support the existing narratives of these DOLs, to learn from them and build effective and impactful relationships.

CREATION.co is the provider of insights-led health strategy to the world’s largest healthcare companies, government organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs

In 2012, they launched the term Digital Opinion Leader (DOL) and devised a process for engaging digital influencers which is now widely used across the healthcare industry. Today, they continue to lead in DOL identification and activation, supporting pharma in building trusted relationships with HCPs.

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Meet the Author

Mary Kangley

Mary is passionate about telling stories with data from online healthcare conversations. Her work is guided by a background in human and cyber-psychology providing a curiosity to understand what HCPs think.

As a keen music fan, Mary’s greatest pride is her Spotify playlists that are continually growing as she makes new discoveries.

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