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Vol. LXII, No. 24
November 26, 2010

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ORWH Celebrates Two Decades of Women’s Health Research
On hand for the 20th anniversary ORWH celebration were (from l) former NIH director Dr. Bernadine Healy, U.S. Sen Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and ORWH director Dr. Vivian Pinn.

On hand for the 20th anniversary ORWH celebration were (from l) former NIH director Dr. Bernadine Healy, U.S. Sen Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and ORWH director Dr. Vivian Pinn.

The theme, “much to celebrate, much more to do,” aptly described the Office of Research on Women’s Health’s 20th anniversary celebration held recently. The daylong scientific symposium and poster session included a tribute to Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, the first acting associate director of ORWH, and a talk by award-winning actress Cicely Tyson.

ORWH director Dr. Vivian Pinn welcomed the more than 400 attendees to Kirschstein Auditorium in Bldg. 45. Former U.S. Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD) and U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) recalled that ORWH was established after women had been excluded from many NIH-funded studies.

Dr. Bernadine Healy, who became the first woman director of NIH in 1991, said in her keynote address that the “third suffrage movement” sought the right to equal representation in health care. U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) provided videotaped remarks.

The office unveiled its strategic plan—Moving Into the Future With New Dimensions and Strategies: A Vision For 2020 For Women’s Health Research—which sets the agenda for the next 10 years. The office published the 3-volume plan after hearing from advocates, scientists, policymakers, educators and health care providers at scientific meetings in St. Louis, San Francisco, Providence, Chicago and Atlanta. The meetings included a total of 37 scientific and career-development working groups and incorporated testimony from 141 organizations and individuals.

Among the areas that will be key to future women’s health research are: longitudinal studies across the lifespan; genomics and stem cell studies; sex differences in the brain; and sex differences in interdisciplinary research.

Dr. Linda Griffith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology delivered the first Ruth L. Kirschstein Distinguished Lectureship, “The Integration of Systems Biology and Tissue Engineering for Research on Women’s Health.” Griffith, who is an engineer, provided an example of what interdisciplinary work can accomplish, describing her laboratory’s liver tissue engineering project. She related the work to women’s health research and also described the MIT Center for Gynepathology, which is studying endometriosis with an eye to developing new research tools that can be applied to other research projects.

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins expanded on some of Griffith’s themes as he described the next steps for NIH, including using high-throughput technology to uncover the molecular underpinnings of disease and the translation of basic science discoveries into new treatments.

Among the other speakers were Dr. Linda Giudice, of the University of California, San Francisco, who talked about the importance of systems biology to translational research, and Dr. Gail Cassell of Eli Lilly and Co., who stressed cooperation among scientists in government, academia and industry.

More information, including the full program agenda, videocast and strategic plan can be found at NIHRecord Icon

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