Posted by on July 24, 2018 - 2:45pm

Are you looking for summer reading suggestions? We’ve compiled a list of some of the most recent reviews related to sex- and gender-inclusive research and organized them by topic. Check out the list below! 

Sex bias in basic and preclinical age-related hearing loss research.
Villavisanis et al., Biol Sex Differ. 2018 Jun 13;9(1):23. doi: 10.1186/s13293-018-0185-7.

Female sex as a biological variable: A review on younger patients with acute coronary syndrome.
Bugiardini et al., Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2018 Jun 12. pii: S1050-1738(18)30091-4. doi: 10.1016/j.tcm.2018.06.002. [Epub ahead of print]

Sex differences in cardiac electrophysiology
Ravens, U. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2018 Jul 12. doi: 10.1139/cjpp-2018-0179. [Epub ahead of print]

Sex Differences in Cardiovascular Pathophysiology: Why Women Are Overrepresented in Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction.
Beale et al., Circulation. 2018 Jul 10;138(2):198-205. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.034271.

Endocrinology & Metabolism
Identifying the Critical Gaps in Research on Sex Differences in Metabolism Across the Life Span.
Reusch et al., Endocrinology. 2018 Jan 1;159(1):9-19. doi: 10.1210/en.2017-03019. Review.

Sex differences underlying pancreatic islet biology and its dysfunction.
Gannon et al., Mol Metab. 2018 Sep;15:82-91. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2018.05.017. Epub 2018 May 30.

Neurology & Neuroscience
Understanding the impact of sex and gender in Alzheimer's disease: A call to action
Nebel et al., Alzheimers Dement. 2018 Jun 12. pii: S1552-5260(18)30130-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2018.04.008. [Epub ahead of print]

Sex differences in Alzheimer disease - the gateway to precision medicine.
Girourard et al., Nat Rev Neurol. 2018 Jul 9. doi: 10.1038/s41582-018-0032-9. [Epub ahead of print] Review.

Sex differences in the evaluation and treatment of acute ischaemic stroke.
Bushnell, et al., Lancet Neurol. 2018 Jul;17(7):641-650. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(18)30201-1. Review.

Sex Differences in the Neuroimmune System.
Osborne et al., Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2018 Oct;23:118-123. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2018.05.007

The impact of sex as a biological variable in the search for novel antidepressants.
Williams & Trainor. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2018 May 31. pii: S0091-3022(18)30044-X. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2018.05.003. [Epub ahead of print]

Sex Differences in Psychiatric Disease: A Focus on the Glutamate System.
Wickens et al, Front Mol Neurosci. 2018 Jun 5;11:197. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2018.00197. eCollection 2018. Review.


Posted by on June 15, 2018 - 9:07am

The latest issue of Breathe, the journal of the European Respiratory Society, focuses on sex- and gender-related issues in respiratory health. Topics covered include the impact of sex on respiratory function, sex-differences in bronchiectasis, the influence of sex-on respiratory outcomes in preterm neonates and in the development of childhood respiratory conditions.

The journal’s Chief Editor, Dr. Renata Riha, notes that, “Perhaps psychiatrists and psychologists have recognized that there are gender differences in behavior and response to illness, which evolve over time from childhood into adulthood, but there is far less research in this area in internal medicine, let alone surgery!”

This special feature is encouraging, given the fact that sex differences exists in the prevalence of several respiratory conditions including asthma, COPD, and pulmonary hypertension. To access the issue, please click here: Breathe (June 2018).  

If you are interested in learning more about the influence of sex on respiratory health, please consider visiting our resources such as, Sex Differences in COPD and Airway Disease in Women

Posted by on May 31, 2018 - 4:35pm

Did you know that on average, people spend approximately 1 to 2 hours outdoors every day during in the summer months? Some sun exposure is actually good for us, as it helps our body produce vitamin D. However, when we spend too much time in the sun without adequate protection we run the risk of sunburn which can lead to skin damage and ultimately an increased risk of skin cancer.

How is sunlight harmful?
The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation which can cause both short-term and long-term changes to our skin. Short-term changes occur after a sunburn, as UV damage triggers an inflammatory response in the skin. At the molecular level, UV radiation has the ability to damage our DNA. Repeated exposure to the sun can cause long-term changes to our skin cells that make them more susceptible to cancer as well as cause premature aging of the skin.

How can we protect ourselves?
The best way to prevent sunburn or other harmful effects of the sun, is to stay in the shade, wear protective clothing, and apply a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15.

Don’t forget to protect your eyes as well!
Sun exposure has also been linked to the development of cataracts. The CDC recommends wearing sunglasses which contain both UVA and UVB protection, which cover the two main types of UV radiation.

If you are interested in learning more about sun exposure and how to protect yourself this summer, consider checking out the following resources: 

Posted by on May 22, 2018 - 9:40am

Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth, with 13% of childbearing parents affected in the first year after giving birth [1]. Most do not receive treatment for postpartum mood disorders.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for postpartum depression include stressful life events and a history of mood disorders, in addition to other known factors related to depression [1]. African-American and Hispanic women experience postpartum depressive more often than white women. Transgender men and other gender nonconforming people have difficulty finding high quality healthcare in pregnancy, which increases their risk of mental health distress [2].


Postpartum depression is rarely treated. Studies have shown that women are unsure of how to treat depression during and after pregnancy [3]. Raising awareness with physicians and promoting collaboration between medical, psychiatric, and other wellness professionals is an great way to help patients work through that confusion.

Recent research has looked at potential solutions to pregnancy-related mental health disorders:

  • Postpartum Support International provides resources to mothers in English and Spanish as well as trainings for healthcare professionals.
  • Dr. Katherine Wisner of Northwestern University recently published a study showing that a telephone-based depression care management system, connecting patients to their doctors and information regarding other resources, lessened symptoms of mood disorders [4].
  • Drs. Hoffkling, Obedin-Maliver, and Sevelius published guidelines for physicians caring for gender nonconforming patients around pregnancy [2].


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a helpful questionnaire available here if you believe you may be experiencing depression.



1.         Wisner, K.L., B.L. Parry, and C.M. Piontek, Clinical practice. Postpartum depression. N Engl J Med, 2002. 347(3): p. 194-9.

2.         Hoffkling, A., J. Obedin-Maliver, and J. Sevelius, From erasure to opportunity: a qualitative study of the experiences of transgender men around pregnancy and recommendations for providers. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 2017. 17(Suppl 2): p. 332.

3.         Battle, C.L., et al., Perinatal antidepressant use: understanding women's preferences and concerns. J Psychiatr Pract, 2013. 19(6): p. 443-53.

4.         Wisner, K.L., et al., Telephone-Based Depression Care Management for Postpartum Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Psychiatry, 2017. 78(9): p. 1369-1375.


Posted by on May 22, 2018 - 9:35am

Earlier this month,  the Women’s Health Research Institute welcomed 25 high school students from across the Chicagoland area to Northwestern University for a field trip focused on careers in biomedical research. The visit was organized in collaboration with the Step Up Women’s Network, a non-profit organization which hosts after-school programs designed to empower young women to be college-bound and career-focused.

As part of Step Up’s Pathways to Professions series, the students learned about the various career paths in biomedical research including research scientist, clinical study coordinator, veterinary technician, histologist, and research administrator. The students also had an opportunity to participate in hands-on laboratory activities and tour NU’s Center for Advanced Microscopy. At the end of the day, the students enjoyed lunch and a roundtable discussion with several NU students, faculty, and staff.

This event was sponsored by the Women’s Health Science Program which supports young women from underserved communities with who are considering careers in science and medicine and prepares them with valuable knowledge and skills to successfully become the next generation of women science leaders.

For more information about WHSP, including our upcoming summer program, click here.

For more information about Step Up Women's Network, click here.

Posted by on May 18, 2018 - 9:19am

WHRI Leadership Council Member, Dr. Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman was awarded the Paula H. Stern Award for Outstanding Women in Science and Medicine. This award was established by the Department of Pharmacology in conjunction with the Women's Faculty Organization to recognize female faculty members who have made a significant contribution to the their field of research and who serve as outstanding role models and mentors.

Dr. Ramsey-Goldman is the Solovy Arthritis Research Society Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of the Clinical Research Unit. Her work focuses on the study of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other autoimmune conditions. An advocate for women's health, Dr. Ramsey-Goldman's research has explored the impact of SLE on the development of cardiovascular disease in women as well the treatment of autoimmune conditions during pregnancy.

Dr. Ramsey-Goldman is the second recipient of the Paula H. Stern Award. The inaugural honor went to Dr. Amy Paller, another prominent member of the WHRI Leadership Council and champion for women's health.

Congratulations to Dr. Ramsey-Goldman!

Posted by on April 13, 2018 - 3:09pm

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


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.


Posted by on March 21, 2018 - 10:55am

Rosalind Franklin was a brilliant 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!


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


Posted by on March 13, 2018 - 3:09pm

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.  



  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. 


Posted by on March 7, 2018 - 8:59am

For our February monthly forum, Dr. Jonathan Silverberg presented a lecture on atopic and contact dermatitits. 

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 a myriad of 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