Elaine C. Pierson-Mastroianni

Lives Lived

Elaine C. Pierson-Mastroianni, M.D.


Spring 2016
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Elaine C. Pierson-Mastroianni (M.D. 1956) died Oct. 3 at her home in Pennsylvania. She was 89.

Born and raised in East Tawas, Michigan, she was one of the top two graduates from her high school class and earned a scholarship to the University of Michigan.

After receiving a degree in biology in 1947, she earned her Ph.D. in 1952, then her medical degree in 1956.

After a rotation in obstetrics-gynecology at Case Western Reserve University, Pierson-Mastroianni began a residency in obstetrics-gynecology at Yale University. It was there she met and married Luigi Mastroianni, M.D., a research fellow and instructor in obstetrics-gynecology.

In 1965, her husband joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, and Pierson-Mastroianni practiced gynecology part-time at the student health clinic there. She was alarmed to discover that her patients often knew little about their bodies, or about sex. She began writing an anonymous column for a student newspaper in which she used straightforward language to talk about sex, birth control and other topics.

The success of the series prompted her writing of Sex is Never an Emergency: A Candid Guide for College Students, distributed on campuses throughout the 1970s. She also co-wrote the textbook Female and Male: Dimensions in Human Sexuality with sociologist Bill D’Antonio, in 1974.

In 1979, Pierson-Mastroianni was promoted to clinical assistant professor at Penn. She retired in 1988 and was accorded emerita status in 1992.

Today, a Medical School scholarship bears her name.

Photo courtesy of Anna C. Mastroianni