Posted by on February 6, 2018 - 11:36am
        

We invite you to read the latest MP Post from the Academy of Women's Health-an interview with Patricia M. Hayes, PhD, on "Improving the Health of Women Veterans."

 

Click here to read the interview 

Click here to read additional MP Post interviews

Click here to visit our website and read about the benefits of membership

 
Posted by on January 31, 2018 - 1:30pm
February is designated as American Heart Month, so over the next few weeks theWomen’s Health Research Institutewill join many other organizations in recognizing this important health issue. In particular, we will explore how sex and gender can influencecardiovascular 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 at @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!

Reference:
Kim and Menon., Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2009 Mar;29(3):279-83.
Posted by on January 29, 2018 - 12:54pm
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.

·  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.

Posted by on January 29, 2018 - 12:48pm

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 the awardees! 

Posted by on January 25, 2018 - 5:56am

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.

Posted by on January 16, 2018 - 8:57am

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


Posted by on January 9, 2018 - 12:59pm

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.

Did you know that that over 90% of cases of cervical cancer in the United States are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection [1]? Below, we will take a closer look at the biology behind HPV associated cervical cancer.

What is HPV?

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection which is spread by vaginal, anal, or oral sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control, HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women will become infected at some point in their lives. Over 90% of people who become infected with HPV do not have any symptoms and the infection naturally resolves within 2 years [2]. However, certain strains of HPV can cause genital warts, while other highrisk strains such as HPV and are associated with cervical, anal, and oral cancer.

How does HPV cause cancer?

HPV infects epithelial cells which serve as a barrier between us and the environment. Sexualcontact introduces HPV to epithelial cells which line the vagina, cervix, anus, penis, or mouth. High-risk strains of HPV produce viral proteins which change the rate at which our cells grow and divide. Most of the time, our immune system can detect and destroy infected cells. However, in some cases HPV infected cells avoid detection and continue to grow uncontrollably. This leads to precancerous growths, and ultimately cancer.

How is HPV detected?

Currently, there are only methods to detect cervical HPV infection. Cells are collected from the cervix, similar to a pap smear, and tested for the DNA of high-risk HPV strains.

Can HPV infection be prevented?

As previously mentioned, HPV is transmitted through sexual contact. Limiting the number of sexual partners and practicing safe sex can reduce your risk of contracting HPV. There are currently three FDA approved vaccines which can prevent high-risk HPV infection, but they cannot treat any current HPV infections. HPV vaccines are recommended for men and women under the age of 26, who did not receive the vaccine as a child or teen. 

For additional information on HPV and HPV-associated cervical cancer, consider checking out the following resources:

References:
  1. Center for Disease Control
  2. Ho et al. N Engl J Med 1998;338(7);423-8
Posted by on January 2, 2018 - 9:50am

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.

Cervical cancer used to be one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths for women in the United States. Yet, thanks to widespread screening and timely detection and treatment, cervical cancer death rates have dropped over 50% in the last 40 years [1]. Cervical cancer screening is done by a pap smear, also known as a pap test. During a pap smear, cells are gently scraped from the cervix and later visualized under a microscope to detect pre-cancerous or cancerous changes. This screening method is easy for clinicians to perform and is relatively cost-effective. Many women recognize that pap smears are an important part of their routine health and wellness, yet few know the history behind this valuable diagnostic tool.

The "pap" smear is named after Dr. George Papanicolaou, a physician-scientist who is credited with the discovery of the test in the early 20th century. Papanicolaou received his medical degree from the University of Athens and went on to pursue a PhD in zoology from the University of Munich [2]. He emigrated to the United States in 1913 and shortly after accepted positions within the Pathology Department at New York University and Anatomy Department at Cornell University Medical College [2]. His research focused on the cellular changes of the reproductive tract. In 1928, Papanicolaou found that cancerous cells from the cervix could be detected by smearing a swab from the cervix onto a microscope slide [3]. The technique did not attract the attention of the medical community, however, until the 1943 publication of his book, Diagnosis of Uterine Cancer by Vaginal Smear [4].

In 1960, Papanicolaou moved to Florida where he served as the director of the Dade County Cancer Institute. Following his death in 1962, the institute was renamed the Papanicolaou Cancer Research Institute [2]. Throughout his career, Papanicolaou received numerous professional accolades and honorary degrees for his work [2]. In 1978, the United States Postal Service commissioned a 13 cent-postage stamp in his honor. Today, the Florida-based philanthropy, the Papanicolaou Corps for Cancer Research, supports cancer research in his name [5]. To read more about the life and career of Dr. Papanicolaou click here (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4613936/).

References:
1. American Cancer Society 
2. Tan and Tatsumura. Singapore Med J. 2015 Oct; 56(10): 586–587.
3. Papanicolaou, G. New Cancer Diagnosis, Proc. Third Race Betterment Conf., Jan. 2-6, 1928, 528-534.
4. Papanicolaou and Traut. Diagnosis of Uterine Cancer by Vaginal Smear, New York, The Commonwealth Fund, 1943.
5. The Papanicolaous Corps

 

Posted by on December 19, 2017 - 8:44am

The holidays can be one of the busiest times of the year, so take a few moments to review these tips to ensure you and your loved ones have a safe and healthy holiday season:

1. Wash your hands often This may seem like a "no-brainer," but hand washing may be one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infections like the common cold or flu. It's important to wash your hands any time you may come into contact with infectious agents like bacteria or viruses. This may include after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, using the rest room, touching household pets, preparing food, before you eat, or after you have touched garbage. Proper hand washing technique includes washing with soap and water, while scrubbing them together for at least 20 seconds. If you're in a situation where you do not have access to soap and running water, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the next best option.

2. Handle and prepare food safely Whether you're in charge of preparing a holiday ham or simply slicing vegetables, proper food handling techniques help prevent the risk of food-related illness. Be sure to wash your hands prior to working with food, and in between handling raw meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs. In addition, make sure that all surfaces which come in contact with food are cleaned thoroughly, such as cutting boards, knives, or counter tops. Fresh fruit and vegetables should be rinsed prior to use and all meats be cooked to the appropriate temperature before serving. Also, to prevent holiday leftovers from spoiling, refrigerate foods promptly and check food storage guidelines.

3. Stay warm If you plan on staying indoors this holiday season, be sure to check that your heating system is in good working condition and your fire and carbon monoxide detectors are functional. For those headed outdoors, wear appropriate clothing such as winter coats, hats, gloves, and boots which can help prevent frostbite and hypothermia. For those of you who may be traveling by car, consider packing a winter emergency kit which includes blankets, food and water, a flashlight, first-aid kit, and extra auto accessories. Weather forecasts may change rapidly, so heed weather alters and warnings in order to stay safe!

4. Eat healthy and be active It may be easy to over-indulge during the holidays as savory meals and sweet treats are a staple at festive gatherings. However, by practicing portion control and making healthy food choices, the holiday season does not need to be associated with an expanding waist-line and weight gain. Consider swapping out sugary-desserts for fresh fruits, or limiting your intake of foods rich in fats or salt.

5. Manage stress The added pressures of travel, last-minute shopping, and entertaining during the holiday season may cause some increased stress. Stress can affect both our emotional and physical health, so we encourage you to take care of yourself by eating well-balanced meals, getting enough sleep, talking with friends and family, and taking time to relax.

Interested in additional health tips? Check out "The 12 Ways to Health," holiday song by the Centers for Disease Control! It features the topics we've discussed above, plus some additional healthy habits.

References:
1. Centers for Disease Control

Posted by on December 5, 2017 - 7:03am

In 2007, the Women’s Health Research Institute was founded as an interdisciplinary center designed to accelerate the rate of discovery in the sciences that impact women’s health and well-being. This year, join the WHRI as we celebrate a decade of milestones in sex-inclusive science and women’s health research.

Since its inception, the WHRI has:  

  • Championed for sex-inclusive policies, resulting in the 2016 National Institutes of Health policy to consider sex as a biological variable
  • Matched thousands of women in to clinical research trials at Northwestern University and beyond through the Illinois Women’s Health Registry
  • Supported sex-inclusive research at Northwestern University through the establishment of the Pioneer Awards
  • Authored over 900 blogs, 75 newsletters, and numerous peer-reviewed publications dedicated to women’s health and sex-inclusive science
  • Hosted more than 90 monthly Women’s Health Research Forums which create awareness of the roles of sex and gender play in health and disease
  • Mentored hundreds of young women who will lead the next generation in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine through the Women’s Health Science Program

On Tuesday, December 12th, the WHRI will host a 10th Anniversary Celebration and Luncheon. WHRI Founder and Director, Dr. Teresa Woodruff, will give a special lecture reflecting on the past 10 years of the Institute and its vision for the years to come.

Click here to register for the WHRI 10th Anniversary Lecture and Celebration! 

 

Help us celebrate our 10th anniversary by making a gift to support sex-inclusive science and improve the health and well-being of all people. 

 

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