The WHRI Honors Black Maternal Health Week, April 11-17

By Alexa Karczmar

Maternal health in the U.S. has been on the decline for the past forty years. The Department of Health and Human Services has reported that maternal mortality has been on the rise for the last three years, and in the 2014 Trends in Maternal Mortality report, the American maternal mortality rate (MMR) had more than doubled in the preceding 13 years [1].The same report demonstrated that the MMR of the U.S. had the highest level of annual increase in maternal death in all of the countries they had studied.

This crisis disproportionately affects Black women, who are more than four times more likely to die in childbirth than White women [2]. Black women face higher rates of poverty than White women and are less likely to be insured [3]. They have higher rates of chronic health conditions that are considered risk factors in maternal death, including heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes [4]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited chronic health conditions as a major risk factor for maternal mortality and suspect in its rates of increase, and the impact of these diseases on Black women are likely exacerbated by their underrepresentation in clinical trials.

Per the Black Mamas Matter Toolkit, Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) is a week intended to:

  • Increase attention to the state of Black maternal health in the US;
  • Amplify the voices of Black mamas, women, families, and stakeholders;
  • Serve as a national platform for Black-women led entities and efforts on maternal; health, birth justice, and reproductive justice; and
  • Enhance community organizing on Black maternal health.

This month, our blog posts and newsletters will further highlight maternal health, sex-inclusive research, and potential solutions in healthcare policy and practice.

You can learn more about BMHW and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance by following them on Twitter @BlkMamasMatter and visiting their website at blackmamamasmatter.org.

References:

1.         Unicef, Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2013. 2014.

2.         Creanga, A.A., et al., Maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States: where are we now? Journal of Women's Health, 2014. 23(1): p. 3-9.

3.         Stephens, J., S. Artiga, and J. Paradise, Health coverage and care in the south in 2014 and beyond. 2014: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

4.         Robbins, C., et al., Disparities in Preconception Health Indicators - Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2013-2015, and Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2013-2014. MMWR Surveill Summ, 2018. 67(1): p. 1-16.

 

Driving Discovery: Women Who Shaped How We Do Science- Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin was a brilliant English chemist and x Ray crystallographer who’s work led to the discovery as well as important inferences about deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA. X-Ray crystallography is a fascinating technique that is employed to determine and obtain a three-dimensional molecular structures from a crystal [1]. The crystal is exposed to a x-ray beam which diffracts into specific patterns and is then processed [1]. X-Ray crystallography is a favored method to determine the structure of proteins and biological macromolecules [1].    

Franklin, born in London, studied physical chemistry during her undergraduate career at Newnham College, one of the two women’s colleges at Cambridge University. After receiving her BA, she held a graduate fellowship for a year then transitioned to work at the British Coal Utilization Research Association [2]. Here she studied carbon and graphite microstructures, providing the basis of her doctorate in physical chemistry back at Cambridge University. During her doctorate, she began studying what is now known as DNA. Franklin was responsible for a large portion of the research, discovery and understanding of DNA. Yet much controversy surrounded the discovery of DNA as Franklin did not get the credit or respect she originally deserved due to the political climate of women in stem. She later moved to a different lab to study the tobacco mosaic virus as well as the polio virus before her death from ovarian cancer in 1956 [2].

Rosalind Franklin will forever be remembered as her work gave us crucial clues and information about the structure of DNA! Her brilliant research also led to our understanding of RNA, coals and carbons, and viruses.   

Read more here!

References:

1. Smyth MS, Martin JHJ. x Ray crystallography. Molecular Pathology. 2000;53(1):8-14.

2. https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/retrieve/Narrative/KR/p-nid/183

Driving Discovery: Women Who Shaped How We Do Science- Virginia Apgar

This month we are celebrating Women’s History Month! We wanted to dedicate this blog post to Virginia Apgar (1909-1974). Virginia Apgar was an American physician best known for the “Apgar Score”. The score measures the physical conditions of a new born infant [1]. The score is obtained by adding points between (0, 1, or 2) for the infants color and pigmentation, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone and respiration [2]. This is taken immediately after birth and again for 5 minute intervals for up to 20 minutes. The best possible outcomes and highest score is a 10, based on adding up all 5 sections. Anything below that could be problematic. This score is still used today and is a great way to understand and record fetal to neonatal transition.

Read more about her here!

 

Stepping away from Women in STEM, check out the remarkable New York Times (NYT) series titled “Overlooked”. It focuses on the many famous women who did not have their obituaries mentioned in the New York Times. This month, NYT is shedding a light on these amazing women.  

  

References:

  1. Apgar V, Holiday DA, James LS, Weisbrot IM, Berrien C. Evaluation of the newborn infant: second report. JAMA 1958;168:1985–88. [PubMed
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association. Textbook of Neonatal Resuscitation. 6th edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association; 2011. 

 

Recap from Dr. Jonathan Silverberg Monthly Forum Talk: Contact Dermatitis Common Irritants

For our February monthly forum, Dr. Jonathan Silverberg presented a lovely lecture on atopic and contact dermatitits. Dr. Silverberg has presented us with the list of common irritantsthat he discussed in his talk.

Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition caused by skin exposure to irritants or allergens. Contact dermatitis can present in many different forms, though most commonly it presents with red, itchy, scaly rash. There are myriad ingredients in personal care products that commonly cause contact dermatitis. Some of the more common culprits include:

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Decyl glucoside
  • Colophonium
  • Formaldehyde
  • Quaternium-15
  • Para-tertiarybutyl-phenol (PTBP) formaldehyde
  • Fragrances (e.g. balsam of peru, cinnamic aldehyde, fragrance mix I, fragrance mix I, Myroxylon pereirae, and hydroxyisohexyl-3-cyclohexenecarboxaldehyde)
  • Compositae mix
  • Sesquiterpine lactone mix
  • Isothiazolinones, including methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Lanolin
  • Paraphenylenediamine

Join us and become part of a supportive community for Chicago women in Academia and STEM!!

Join us and become part of a supportive community for Chicago women in Academia and STEM!!

 

NUPF would like to invite you to a special event that focuses on addressing inequalities facing women in STEM and academia, building a community to promote gender equity, and identifying solutions for the prioritization of work and lifestyle. This event is for everyone, students, postdocs, staff and faculty from Northwestern and other institutions whatever your gender identity is!


REASONS TO PARTICIPATE:
  • Discuss the unique challenges facing women in STEM at Northwestern and nation-wide.
  • Build a community of local women in STEM and academia to promote gender equity through varied interactive sessions. 
  • Get to know ways to improve your work/life balance (maternity leave, parental support, child care, elder care, etc).
  • Find out how to address inequalities at the workplace (sexual harassment, discriminitation, wages discrepancies).
  • Learn from the life lessons and successful stories of our guest speakers who are leaders in their respective fields. 
  • Cultivate leadership skills and mentor-mentee relationships with the invited speakers. 
  • Learn about the missions of our partner organizations and upcoming local events at our exhibitors' booths. 

AGENDA:

12:00 pm: Opening address. 12:05-12:30 pm: Northwestern University benefits-specific information session.

12:30-1:00 pm: Lunch (Food/drinks provided).

1 pm-1:45 pm: "How to address inequalities faced by women in STEM and Academia", Geri R. Donenberg,  PhDVice Chair of Research Dept of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science, UIC. 2:00-2:45 pm: Keynote presentation, Dr. Carol Tamminga M.D.Professor & Chairman, Dept Psychiatry, UT Southwestern. 2:45-3:30 pm: Talks by women leaders in STEM. Participating speakers:
  • Vicky Kalogera, PhD, Linzer Distinguished University Professor in Physics and Astronomy, Northwestern University and Director of CIERA, Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics.
  • Jennifer Cole, PhD, Assistant Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Associate Director of Northwestern Center for Engineering Education Research.
  • Nancy Schwarz, PhDDepartment of Pediatrics, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago, Director, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center.

3:30-3:45 pm: Coffee break.

3:45-4:15 pm: Talk, Teresa Woodruff, PhD, Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education,The Graduate School, Northwestern University.

4:15-5:15 pm: Panel discussion on women's leadership in STEM with previous speakers. 

5:15-7:00 pm: Networking event (Appetizers/drinks served).

 

Attendees will be able to directly interact with the speakers and discuss mentoring in a small group setting during the round-table networking reception.

WHEN:
March 15th 2018, 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm 

WHERE:
Conference room L South,
Prentice Women’s Hospital, 250 E Superior St

 FOR MORE INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION, CLICK ON THIS LINK:

https://womeninstemacademiainitiative.eventbrite.com​​​

New Moms Can Help Others through Umbilical Cord Blood Donations

New Moms Can Help Others through Umbilical Cord Blood Donations

By Madison Lyleroehr

The role of a mother’s umbilical cord is typically complete at the end of birth. However, the blood located in the umbilical cord has been found to contain a wealth of stem cells, which are extremely valuable because of their regenerative properties. The presence of these stem cells has enabled the use of umbilical cord blood (UCB) donations in treating an increasing range of diseases, including some rare genetic conditions.

Not only can UCB stem cells be used in a variety of treatments, but collecting them is much less difficult than other sources of stem cells, such as bone marrow. Because the umbilical cord is generally expelled during the birth process, UCB collection is non-invasive, does not interfere with the birthing process, or pose additional risks to the mother or baby during birth. Furthermore, because the population of women having babies is so diverse, the collection of UCB increases the potential number of matches for patients in need of stem cell donations.

For expectant families who are interested in exploring UCB donation, various options are available. First, mothers can choose to bank their own cord blood in case close family members, such as the babies from whom the UCB was donated or their siblings, are diagnosed with a condition that can be helped by the stem cells. This option generally includes fees for processing and storage. Another option is to donate the blood publically to help others who may find themselves in need of a stem cell treatment. Families who are considering either option should begin the conversation early enough in pregnancy to have the time to consider all options and research the collection option they choose.

For more information on UCB donation, go to https://bethematch.org/support-the-cause/donate-cord-blood/.

Additional sources:

Butler, Madelyn. “Best practices: umbilical cord blood and tissue preservation: tips for patient counseling.” OB GYN News, Aug. 2017, p. 7.

Martin, Paul L., et al. “Umbilical cord blood: a guide for primary care physicians.” American Family Physician, 15 Sept. 2011, p. 661+.

 

Women’s History Month: Scientists and Scholars

This March, the Women’s Health Research Institute is celebrating Women’s History Month by paying tribute to the women who have shaped the fields and science and medicine. Through a series of blog posts, we will highlight female scientists, physicians, and scholars who have furthered our understanding of health and disease.

Below we’ve compiled just a few local and national resources which support and promote women in science and medicine.

Professional Societies

Northwestern University Organizations

K-12 Students

Other Resources:

https://www.beyondcurie.com/

 

Webcast of the Workshop on Women's Mental Health Across the Life Course through a Sex-Gender Lens

March 7, 2018
Webcast of the Workshop on Women's Mental Health Across the Life Course through a Sex-Gender Lens
   #WomensMentalHealth

8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Register for the webcast | Agenda

Join the Committee on Population on March 7 for a webcast on a workshop that will explore how environmental, sociocultural, behavioral, and biological factors affect women's mental health across the life course and across different racial/ethnic groups.

The workshop will include sessions on: 

  • life course framing, population patterns, measurement, and methods;
  • psychological and structural factors in women’s mental health;
  • mental health over adolescence, mid-life, and later life;
  • mental health care and policy; and
  • an agenda for advancing women’s mental health over the life course.
Please feel free to share the webcast information with your colleagues. If you have questions about the event, please contact Mary Ghitelman.
   This event is made possible with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health.

 

  More Information about the workshop

 

Copyright © 2018 National Academy of Sciences, All rights reserved. 

Register for an All Day Chicago Women In Academia and STEM Event


Join us and become part of a supportive community for Chicago women in Academia and STEM!!
  NUPF would like to invite you to a special event that focuses on addressing inequalities facing women in STEM and academia, building a community to promote gender equity, and identifying solutions for the prioritization of work and lifestyle. This event is for everyone, students, postdocs, staff and faculty from Northwestern and other institutions whatever your gender identity is!


REASONS TO PARTICIPATE:
  • Discuss the unique challenges facing women in STEM at Northwestern and nation-wide.
  • Build a community of local women in STEM and academia to promote gender equity through varied interactive sessions. 
  • Get to know ways to improve your work/life balance (maternity leave, parental support, child care, elder care, etc).
  • Find out how to address inequalities at the workplace (sexual harassment, discriminitation, wages discrepancies).
  • Learn from the life lessons and successful stories of our guest speakers who are leaders in their respective fields. 
  • Cultivate leadership skills and mentor-mentee relationships with the invited speakers. 
  • Learn about the missions of our partner organizations and upcoming local events at our exhibitors' booths.
  AGENDA:   12:00 pm: Opening address. 12:05-12:30 pm: Northwestern University benefits-specific information session. 12:30-1:00 pm: Lunch (Food/drinks provided). 1 pm-1:45 pm: "How to address inequalities faced by women in STEM and Academia", Geri R. Donenberg,  PhDVice Chair of Research Dept of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science, UIC. 2:00-2:45 pm: Keynote presentation, Dr. Carol Tamminga M.D.Professor & Chairman, Dept Psychiatry, UT Southwestern. 2:45-3:30 pm: Talks by women leaders in STEM. Participating speakers:
  • Vicky Kalogera, PhD, Linzer Distinguished University Professor in Physics and Astronomy, Northwestern University and Director of CIERA, Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics.
  • Jennifer Cole, PhD, Assistant Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Associate Director of Northwestern Center for Engineering Education Research.
  • Nancy Schwarz, PhDDepartment of Pediatrics, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago, Director, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center.

3:30-3:45 pm: Coffee break. 3:45-4:15 pm: Talk, Teresa Woodruff, PhD, Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education,The Graduate School, Northwestern University. 4:15-5:15 pm: Panel discussion on women's leadership in STEM with previous speakers.  5:15-7:00 pm: Networking event (Appetizers/drinks served).   Attendees will be able to directly interact with the speakers and discuss mentoring in a small group setting during the round-table networking reception.

WHEN:
March 15th 2018, 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm 

WHERE:
Conference room L South,
Prentice Women’s Hospital, 250 E Superior St   FOR MORE INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION, CLICK ON THIS LINK:   https://womeninstemacademiainitiative.eventbrite.com

Knowing Your Numbers: Women’s Heart Health

From phone numbers and addresses to loved one’s birthdays, we are very good at keeping track of certain numbers. However, the American Heart Association recommends adding a few more to that list in order to keep track of your heart health!

Total and HDL Cholesterol

Cholesterols are fat-like molecules that are found throughout our body. They are used as building blocks for hormones and important structural components to our cells. They are transported through our blood stream by two types of proteins: high density lipoproteins (HLD) and low density lipoproteins (LDL). Build-up of LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol contributes to atherosclerosis or plaque forming in the arteries, whereas HDL or “good” cholesterol carries cholesterol back to the liver where it is broken down and removed from the body. A blood test can determine your total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol numbers. You should discuss these numbers with your doctor to see how they impact your personal heart health.  

To learn more about cholesterol, click here!  

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a measurement which tells us how much force is being exerted on our blood vessels with every heartbeat. It is typically recorded as two numbers: The systolic and diastolic blood pressures. This accounts for the force when the heart is contracting (in systole) or relaxing (in diastole). Normal blood pressure for adults is defined as a systolic pressure of less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic pressure of less than 80 mmHg. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can be a significant risk factor for heart disease, so it’s important to know your blood pressure and discuss it with your doctor.

To learn more about blood pressure, click here!

Blood Sugar

Blood sugar refers to the amount of glucose, a type of sugar molecular, which is found in our blood. It is the major source of energy for our cells, so it is critical that our blood sugar remain within a certain range. Health problems can occur when blood sugar becomes too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Normal fasting blood sugar levels should be between 70 – 100 mg/dL. People with high blood sugar who are pre-diabetic or diabetic are at greater risk for developing heart disease compared to those with normal blood sugar levels. Fasting blood sugar levels can be determined by a simple blood test taken at your doctor’s office.

To learn more about blood sugar, click here!

 

Body Mass Index    

Being overweight or obese can also increase the risk of developing heart disease. Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of body fat which can be used to help you and your healthcare providers determine if you need to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a BMI calculator tool you can use along with additional resources for weight management. 

The Underrepresented Sex in Breast Cancer

Here at the Women’s Health Research Institute, we strive for sex-inclusive research in hopes of adding more women and female cells to all scientific equations. In order to improve women’s health, we must focus and raise awareness of sex differences in all facets of basic science, clinical and translational research. While we want to add more women to the forefront of scientific research, we know that in order for all of us to succeed we must focus on health for both women and men!

 

When we think of breast cancer, we often think of female cells or women being diagnosed and treated. There is often a disconnect in terms of males being diagnosed with breast cancer. This disconnect or confusion about males developing breast cancer could be due to the fact that less than 1% of all breast cancer is observed in males.  Women and men both have breast cells and tissue but only females develop milk-producing breasts. The likelihood of a man’s breast tissue developing cancer is one in a thousand! Due to this rare occurrence, we do not often hear the narratives of men, like this one, who have undergone breast cancer diagnoses and treatment.

Breast cancer is not the only disease that is higher in women compared to men. Autoimmune diseases in general, disproportionately impact woman compared to men specifically diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. That said, men who do have autoimmune disease often have more acute symptoms

 

Since there are these big differences in the development of diseases in biologically born males and females, it’s extremely important to think about all sides of the equation when researching or treating a disease!

Sex-inclusive science and medicine is the best way to improve the health of all of us!!

 

 

Check out these sources:

Male Breast Cancer Coalition

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Sex-Specific Cardiovascular Risk

One key aspect to maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle is being aware of your individual cardiovascular risk factors. We know that men and women who are overweight, have high blood pressure, smoke, are diabetic, or have increased cholesterol are more likely to develop heart disease. However, there are several cardiovascular risk factors which apply only to women. Below, we take a closer look at several female-specific risk factors:

Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy

Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy related such as gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia only affect 5-10% of pregnant women, but they may increase a woman’s risk of developing heart disease later in life. According to a recent study published in the journal Hypertension, women who experienced high blood pressure during pregnancy were more likely to develop high blood pressure later in life and have a higher cardiovascular disease risk profile than women whose blood pressure remained normal throughout pregnancy [1].

The authors suggest that women who experience hypertensive disorders of pregnancy be counseled on how to recognize and reduce other modifiable risk factors.

 Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a condition which occurs during pregnancy and hinders the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. While it normally resolves after pregnancy, it may leave women with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A study which examined over 8,000 women found that those who experienced gestational diabetes during pregnancy were more likely to have low HDL or “good” cholesterol and higher levels to triglycerides – both factors which can contribute to heart disease [2]. This provides yet another example of how pregnancy-related conditions may impact heart health later in life.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder which affects women of reproductive age. In addition to causing reproductive issues such as irregular periods or infertility, women with PCOS may experience other health issues such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or metabolic syndrome. Together, these conditions can increase a woman’s risk of developing heart disease.

Menopause

Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life cycle which is characterized by the loss of menstrual cycles and a decrease in estrogen levels.  Post-menopausal women face a greater risk of heart disease compared to pre-menopausal women due to age and the loss of estrogen. This increased risk also extends to young women who experience premature menopause or have had their ovaries removed for surgical reasons. Even though estrogen is considered “heart-protective,” the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend that patients use hormone replacement therapy to prevent cardiovascular disease [3].

For a review on sex-specific cardiovascular risk factors, we recommend:

“Sex differences in cardiovascular risk factors and disease prevention.”

Appelman et al., Atherosclerosis. 2015; 241 (1): 211-218.

 

References:

1. Tooher et al., Hypertension. 2017; 70: 798-803.

2. Shostrom et al., Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2017; 8: 144.

3. ACOG Committee on Gynecologic Practice, 2013. No. 565. 

 

Highlighting the Work of Poonam Muttreja and Her Organization: Population Foundation of India

 

 

The Women's Health Research Institute would like to highlight the work of Poonam Muttreja and her organization, Population Foundation of India (PFI). PFI is a national non-governmental organization (NGO) that centers its work on policy, advocacy and research on population, health and development issues throughout India. PFI’s work has empowered women, men and their families through numerous projects that contributes to health and well-being for all, while their work also leads to numerous positive outcomes for women. PFI uses a multipronged advocacy and communication strategy, including entertainment-based mass media programmes, online digital campaigns, and outreach amongst communities.

PFI’s position is unique as they work with the Indian government at both the national and state levels, with other NGOs and throughout urban and rural communities where they deploy successful programs leading to beneficial social and behavior change.

 

 

 Poonam Muttreja is the Executive Director of PFI and has over 35 years of experience in promoting women’s rights, rural livelihoods, public advocacy, communications and behavior change.  She conceived and promoted the popular Indian television serial, Mai Kuch bhi kar sakti hoon-I, a woman, can do anything. Poonam has been a member of the Family Planning 2020 Reference Group, which is a global movement that supports the rights of women and girls around the globe to empower them to decide for themselves whether, when and how many children they may want to have. She is currently a civil society representative from India for the FP 2020 country engagement group. Before joining PFI, Poonam worked with the McArthur Foundation as India Country director where she was responsible for the Foundation’s grants in India that focused on population and development issues. Early on in her career, she founded organizations in the area of social justice (SRUTI), craft (DASTKAR) and programing on leadership (Founder Director of the Ashoka Foundation in India) specifically focusing in the field of women’s health. She serves on the board of several non-governmental organizations. In addition to Poonam’s numerous and impressive efforts in social justice outreach and development, she has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

Connecting through global NGOs enabling women to do better and be healthier is an important part of our mission here at the Women's Health Research Institute. 

 

The WHRI Celebrates American Heart Month

February is designated as American Heart Month, so over the next few weeks the Women’s Health Research Institute will join many other organizations in recognizing this important health issue. In particular, we will explore how sex and gender can influence cardiovascular health and disease through a series of blogs and social media posts related to women’s cardiovascular health. Stay connected with the WHRI through our facebook, Twitter @WomensHealthNU, or by signing up for our monthly newsletters! Did you know: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, yet women are underrepresented in cardiovascular clinical trials [1]? To learn about how you can fix these research disparities, click here! References: 1. Kim and Menon., Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2009 Mar;29(3):279-83.


It’s Time to Deliver: Including Pregnant and Lactating Women in Clinical Research Wednesday, February 14

It’s Time to Deliver:  Including Pregnant and Lactating Women in Clinical Research
Wednesday, February 14 || 1:00pm–2:30pm ET 

Register Now

Pregnant women have frequently been excluded from or de-prioritized in clinical research, leaving them and their providers to make decisions without adequate information or guidance regarding the safety and efficacy of necessary treatments.
Treatment Action Group (TAG), the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and HIV/AIDS Network Coordination Women's HIV Research Collaborative (WHRC) invite you to join us for the first of a two-part webinar series on the inclusion of pregnant and lactating women in research.
We hope you can join us Wednesday, February 14th from 1:00-2:30 PM ET to: ·  Review the history of the inclusion of pregnant and lactating women as clinical research participants; ·  Explore the issues pregnant and lactating women and their providers face in diagnosing, treating, and administering safe and effective medications and interventions; ·  Discuss current restrictions and barriers to including pregnant and lactating women in research; and ·  Plan around ongoing and future opportunities for advocacy to affect change to research policy and practice. More information, including the list of speakers, can be found below.

Congratulations: 2018 Shaw Family Pioneer Awardees

We are very excited to announce the recipients of this year’s Shaw Family Pioneer Awards- Jelena Radulovic, MD, PhD and Aline Martin, PhD.

The Shaw Family Pioneer Awards, provide funding for investigators conducting sex-based and sex-inclusive research. Funding enables early career investigators to conduct pilot studies that may enhance their ability to compete for federal grants. All proposals were evaluated based on the impact, innovation, approach and relevance to sex-based research. 

Dr. Radulovic is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Pharmacology and Physiology at Northwestern University. Dr. Radulovic’s research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which memories of stressful events can contribute to anxiety and depression like behaviors. Dr. Radulovic plans to use funds from the Shaw Family Pioneer Award to develop a new method for studying the role of oxytocin receptors in generating patterns of neuronal activity in response to stress in both female and male mice. This project includes some of the latest technology which will allow for visualization of the activity of individual neurons in freely moving mice as they perform behavioral tasks to assess anxiety, memory and social behaviors. The findings will help with constructing new frameworks for sex specific behavioral regulation that can then be translated into human research.

Dr. Martin is an Assistant Professor of Medicine (Nephrology and Hypertension). Dr. Martin plans to focus on chronic kidney disease (CKD) and cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in patients that have CKD. CKD is higher in women but men progress CKD more rapidly. Dr. Martin will investigate the onset of CKD and elevations of fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23), which is responsible for regulating phosphorous and vitamin D metabolism, in both male and female mice. This work is relevant to sex-based discoveries because it will focus on cardiovascular disease mortality and the gender-disparities in CKD. This research is innovative in many ways, including that it will be the first study to identify specific gender based molecular mechanisms of cardiac injury. Funding from this award will support Dr. Martin’s goal in producing additional preliminary data that will establish the foundation for an NIH R01 grant application. This grant application will focus on mechanisms of cardiac injury and gender disparities in chronic kidney disease.

Stay tuned for updates in the coming months from this year’s awardees! 

WHRI Celebrates 2nd Anniversary of Sex Inclusion Policy

Today, the Women’s Health Research Institute will host the 2nd Annual Symposium on Sex Inclusion in Biomedical Research at Prentice Women’s Hospital. The event coincides with the 2nd anniversary of the landmark NIH policy which requires investigators to consider sex as a biological variable. The theme of this year’s symposium is “A Spotlight On Autoimmunity,” and will feature exciting lectures from national experts in sex-based immunology. In addition to an outstanding lecture series, the symposium will feature a panel discussion on the state of sex-inclusive science, invited abstract presentations, and a poster session highlighting the work of members of the Northwestern University community.

 If you are interested in attending the symposium, same-day registration is available. Event details can be found at the link below:

2nd Annual Symposium on Sex Inclusion in Biomedical Research  

Follow today’s discussion on the Twitter at @WomensHealthN using the hashtag #SexCellsNU2018.

Cervical Cancer: A Global Health Issue

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, so over the next few weeks the Women’s Health Research Institute will be posting a series of blogs related to this important topic in women’s health.

 While cervical cancer rates have dropped significantly within the United States throughout the last several decades, cervical cancer still remains a critical global health issue. According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is second most common form of cancer for women living in less developed regions of the world. Each year, approximately 270,000 women die from cervical cancer, with 85% of deaths occurring in low-to-middle income countries [1].

 The high mortality rate for cervical cancer in the developing world is driven by limited access to cervical cancer screening and treatment. Laboratory-based methods used to detect cervical cancer, and the personnel required to perform and analyze them may be unavailable in resource-limited settings. Likewise, the ability to treat cervical cancer is highly dependent on access to surgical facilities, chemotherapy agents, and radiation equipment [2].

 Efforts are underway by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control to promote other methods of detection besides the traditional pap smear [3]. These include human papilloma virus testing (HPV) and visual inspection of the cervix using a vinegar solution [3]. The United Nations Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control also recommends providing the HPV vaccine to all adolescent girls in order to reduce the incidence of HPV-associated cervical cancer [4]. Together, these strategies may reduce the burden of cervical cancer worldwide.

 

References:
1. Ferlay et al. International Journal of Cancer 2015; 136(5): E359-86.
2. Small et al., Cancer. 2017;123(13):2404-2412.
3. Centers for Disease Control.
4. United Nations Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control


Pages