My Blog Posts

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!

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

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.  

  

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. 

 

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
Posted by on March 6, 2018 - 8:57am

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,  PhD, Vice 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​​​

Posted by on March 5, 2018 - 9:28am

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+.

 

Posted by on February 27, 2018 - 3:01pm
Do you know of a woman with more than 10 years demonstrated support & mentorship of women in STEM?
Nominate a friend or colleague or yourself! 
Association for Women in Science (AWIS) Chicago membership not required. Nominations can be found here.
Submit nominations to info@awis-chicago.org by Friday, March 23, 2018.

Posted by on February 21, 2018 - 1:23pm
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.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2018 National Academy of Sciences, All rights reserved. 
Posted by on February 20, 2018 - 8:58am

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,  PhD, Vice 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:
 

Posted by on February 9, 2018 - 10:30am

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.

Posted by on February 7, 2018 - 8:45am

 

 

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. 

 

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