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Vol. LXIII, No. 4
February 18, 2011
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Women’s Health Research Symposium Showcases Interdisciplinary Research
  Dr. Tanika Kelly, Tulane University BIRCWH scholar, displays her work.  
  Dr. Tanika Kelly, Tulane University BIRCWH scholar, displays her work.  

The seventh annual Interdisciplinary Women’s Health Research Symposium recently showcased two programs that have helped define women’s health research over the past two decades: Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH, K12) and the Specialized Centers of Research (SCOR) on Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Women’s Health.

BIRCWH scholars and SCOR principal investigators unveiled studies considering questions relevant to women’s health, including: Are researchers using the appropriate mouse model to study breast cancer progression? How can preterm birth affect a mother’s risk of cardiovascular disease later in life? Do female master cyclists have lower bone mineral density than active females who are not cyclists?

The BIRCWH program prepares new and junior faculty for careers in women’s health research by providing salary support, mentoring and protected research time. The SCOR program supports women’s health and sex differences research by accomplished scientists. It integrates basic, clinical and translational approaches to accelerate the transfer of research findings into clinical practice. Both programs emphasize an interdisciplinary approach.

  Dr. Kazuaki Takabe (l) and Dr. Keith Baker are BIRCWH scholars from Virginia Commonwealth University.  
  Dr. Kazuaki Takabe (l) and Dr. Keith Baker are BIRCWH scholars from Virginia Commonwealth University.  

When the history of the Office of Research on Women’s Health is written, “I think the interdisciplinary research will stand out,” said Dr. Vivian Pinn, ORWH director, in opening remarks. She said the research focus has widened during the 20 years ORWH has existed. “We know that there are sex differences, even at the molecular and cellular level,” she said. “And so we’ve transitioned from focusing on women’s health to focusing on both women’s health and sex differences research.”

Dr. Alan Guttmacher, director of NICHD, detailed a number of women’s health advances and outlined promising areas of future research, including the development of stem cell regenerative therapy to treat conditions such as endometriosis and pelvic floor disorders.

“It’s easy to lose track of this, with all the challenges we face, but we really have come a long way,” Guttmacher said. Some advances in women’s health, he said, can be traced to the work of ORWH. “My belief is that having more women in medicine and biological research over the past couple of decades has made a real difference in terms of progress we’ve seen in terms of women’s health.”

A videotape of the day’s proceedings can be found at http://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?live=9752. NIHRecord Icon


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