NIH recently hosted the 3rd annual Interdisciplinary
Women’s Health Research Symposium in Lister Hill Auditorium. Junior investigators from Building Interdisciplinary Research Centers
in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) and senior investigators from the Specialized Centers of Research on Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Women’s Health (SCOR) presented progress from their research.
“These programs have evolved into model constructs
for future careers in research, interdisciplinary
collaborations in research and health care delivery and a concerted approach to the design of basic and clinical research for sex/gender
analyses,” said Dr. Vivian Pinn, director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health.
Dr. Angela Jefferson, a scholar from Boston Medical Center, described her work on inflammatory
biomarkers and the association with total brain volume.
Symposium keynote speaker Dr. Jonathan Li of the University of Kansas discussed his research that is unraveling the role of estrogen in breast cancer.
NICHD deputy director Dr. Yvonne Maddox summarized the success of BIRCWH and congratulated
the scholars who “have taken on important research in women’s health that encompasses research from bench to bedside, ultimately affecting standards of care.” Since BIRCWH was introduced in 2000, with NICHD as primary administrator, 287 scholars have been trained, producing 882 publications and 872 abstracts.
Equally impressive over the past 5 years, SCOR—administered through NIAMS—has been successful translating research from the laboratory to the clinical setting. Welcoming SCOR senior investigators, Dr. Kathleen Uhl, director of FDA’s Office of Women’s Health, said, “We are committed to moving forward in an advocacy and advisory environment to explore sex and gender differences and how they relate to FDA-regulated products.”
Scientists showcased their research at a poster session featuring more than 40 topics, including
Gender and Racial/Ethnic Differences in Colorectal Cancer Screening, Gender Disparities in Chronic Kidney Disease Patients with Cardiovascular
Risk Factor and the Impact of Rheumatoid
Arthritis on Rehabilitation Outcomes.
Symposium keynote speaker Dr. Jonathan Li of the University of Kansas discussed his research that is unraveling the role of estrogen in breast cancer. He stressed the importance of an interdisciplinary
approach in forming new paradigms
for breast cancer studies.
BIRCWH and SCOR scientists also presented summaries of their research at four sessions. During the first session, Sex and Gender Factors
Influencing Disease, Dr. Angela Jefferson of Boston Medical Center described her work on inflammatory biomarkers and the association
with total brain volume. “Women are more susceptible to inflammation and this may be one risk factor for Alzheimer’s or cardiovascular disease,” she emphasized.
During session II, Sex and Gender Reflected in Basic Mechanisms, BIRCWH scholar
Dr. Deborah J. Clegg of the University of Cincinnati summarized her findings on brain regulation and food intake. Leptin and insulin
are two known adiposity (fat-containing) hormones that regulate food intake. Women are particularly sensitive to leptin even at low rates. Clegg found that the addition of estrogen to male rats causes dramatic weight gain. She concluded that estrogen may be a third adiposity
hormone that regulates food intake, body weight and leptin sensitivity.
In sessions III and IV, Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Health Behavior, and Ethnicity and Disease were discussed, respectively. Sponsored by ORWH in collaboration with NICHD, NIAMS and NIDA, as well as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Food and Drug Administration, the symposium provided a dynamic environment for research exchange.—