Advancing NIH Research on the Health of Women: A 2021 Conference
In response to a congressional request to address NIH efforts related to women’s health research, the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH), on behalf of the Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health (ACRWH), hosted an event on October 20, 2021, titled “Advancing NIH Research on the Health of Women: A 2021 Conference.” The key topics discussed, as identified by Congress, were (1) clinical practices related to rising maternal morbidity and mortality rates; (2) increasing rates of chronic debilitating conditions in women; and (3) stagnant cervical cancer survival rates. Learn more about these issues below.
Maternal Morbidity and Mortality
Maternal morbidity and mortality is a public health crisis in the United States, with an estimated 6 in 10 maternal deaths being preventable. During 2011–2015, the United States had nearly twice the live birth maternal mortality rate as peer countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom. This rise in maternal mortality is even more pronounced among women of color, including Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic women. These racial and ethnic disparities are influenced by structural racism, implicit bias, and racially biased policies and practices, with neither education nor higher socioeconomic status mitigating the elevated risks.
Chronic Debilitating Conditions in Women
Rates of chronic debilitating conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), affecting women in the U.S. are on the rise, and chronic diseases are more common in women than men. However, there is a limited understanding of the impact of sex and gender influences on the outcomes of individuals with chronic diseases. Current challenges include lack of research on rare diseases that are more prevalent in women and the lower specificity, sensitivity, and efficacy of diagnostic tests for women. Also, disparities exist among underserved racial and ethnic groups. For example, Black women are 20% more likely to die from heart disease than White women.
Stagnant Cervical Cancer Survival Rates
In the U.S., there are approximately 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer per year. Despite increased cervical cancer prevention efforts through human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and cervical cancer screening, the incidence of and mortality rate from cervical cancer have remained stable over the past two decades. There are also significant racial and ethnic disparities related to cervical cancer. For example, Black and Hispanic women in the U.S. are diagnosed more frequently than women of other races and ethnicities in the U.S. and are less likely to survive.
Samia Noursi, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Science Policy, Planning, and Analysis
NIH Office of Research on Women's Health
Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., FARVO
Associate Director for Research on Women's Health, NIH
Director, NIH Office of Research on Women 's Health
Women's Health Matters: When, Where, and Why
Chloe Bird, Ph.D.
Senior Sociologist, RAND Corporation
How Stereotypes Underpin Inequities for Women in Academic STEMM and Advancements in Women’s Health
Molly Carnes, M.D.
Virginia Valian Professor, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Founder and Director, Center for Women’s Health Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison
The U.S. Maternal Health Care Crisis
Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Impact of Chronic Disease: The Sex & Gender Gap
Marjorie Jenkins, M.D., M.E.H.P., FACP
Dean, University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville
Chief Academic Officer, Prisma Health–Upstate
Cervical Cancer: How Can We Overcome Our History?
BJ Rimel, M.D.
Vice Chair, Protocol Review and Monitoring Committee, Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute
Associate Director, Gynecologic Oncology Clinical Trials, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Session Moderator
Yoel Sadovsky, M.D.
Executive Director, Magee-Womens Research Institute, University of Pittsburgh
Maternal Morbidity and Mortality: Tip of a Lifecourse Iceberg
Janet Rich-Edwards, Sc.D.
Director of Research, Division of Women’s Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Director of Lifecourse Epidemiology, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harnessing the Power of Research: Optimizing Infrastructure to Optimize Maternal Outcomes
Uma Reddy, M.D., M.F.M.
Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and Section Chief of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine
Opportunities in Clinical Research to Reduce Maternal Morbidity and Mortality
Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, M.D., M.S.
Chair, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences; University of California, San Diego School of Medicine
Expanding Maternal Morbidity & Mortality Research Within & Beyond Our Hospital Walls
Mary D’Alton, M.D.
Willard C. Rappleye Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
How Can Research Findings Be Translated into Reduced Maternal Morbidity and Mortality?
Elliot Main, M.D.
Medical Director, California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford University
You Are What You Love: Prioritizing Women’s Health Research for a Healthier Society
Maeve Wallace, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Mary Amelia Center for Women’s Health Equity Research
Root Causes of Maternal Health Outcomes and Research Justice
Joia Crear-Perry, M.D.
Founder and President, National Birth Equity Collaborative
Opportunities for Research to Reduce Disparities in Maternal Morbidity and Mortality
Stacie Geller, Ph.D.
G. William Arends Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Director of the Center for Research on Women and Gender, University of Illinois College of Medicine
Chronic Debilitating Conditions in Women Session Moderator
Judy Regensteiner, Ph.D.
Director of the Ludeman Family Center for Women’s Health Research and Professor of Medicine in the Divisions of Internal Medicine and Cardiology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Prevention of Chronic Conditions in Women to Advance Health and Function Across the Lifespan
Heidi D. Nelson, M.D., M.P.H., M.A.C.P., FRCP
Professor Emerita of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University
The Impact of Chronic Debilitating Conditions on Women
Kim Templeton, M.D.
Professor and Vice-Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Kansas Medical Center
The Case of Fibroids as a Female-Specific Chronic Debilitating Condition
William Catherino, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology with tenure, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Fortifying Opportunities to Advance Female-Specific Chronic Disease Research
Stacey Missmer, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
What We Do and Do Not Know About the Leading Killer of Women and What We Should Do About It
Noel Bairey Merz, M.D.
Professor of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Director, Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program, the Erika J. Glazer Women’s Heart Research Initiative, and the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center, Cedars-Sinai’s Smidt Heart Institute
Chronic Debilitating Conditions: The Heart of the Matter
Judy Regensteiner, Ph.D.
Director, Ludeman Family Center for Women’s Health Research
Professor of Medicine, Divisions of Internal Medicine and Cardiology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Integrating Biopsychosocial Determinants of Health to Develop and Implement Culturally-Sensitive Care for Women
Cheryl Woods Giscombé, Ph.D., RN
Associate Dean of the Ph.D. Division & Program and Levine Family Distinguished Scholar in Quality of Life, Health Promotion, and Wellness, University of North Carolina School of Nursing
Beyond Sex as a Biological Variable: Addressing Chronic Debilitating Conditions Among All Women
Melissa Simon, M.D.
Vice Chair for Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
Stagnant Cervical Cancer Survival Rates Session Moderator
Wendy Brewster, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Center for Women’s Health Research, University of North Carolina School of Medicine
The Future of Cervical Cancer Prevention in the United States: The Realities of Evidence Beyond Innovation
Cosette Wheeler, Ph.D.
Regents’ Professor, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
Director, New Mexico HPV Pap Registry
A Path Forward Toward Accelerating Cervical Cancer Eradication
Diana S.M. Buist, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Senior Investigator and Director of Research and Strategic Partnerships, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
Professor, Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine
Improving Treatment for Cervical Cancer: What Can Tumor Biology Tell Us?
Julie Schwarz, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of the Cancer Biology Division and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Translating Science into Improved Patient Care for Women with Cervical Cancer
Janet Rader, M.D.
Jack A. and Elaine D. Klieger Professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical College of Wisconsin
The Future of Clinical Research in Cervical Cancer Treatment
Charles Kunos, M.D.
Medical Director, University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center’s Clinical Research Office
NCI Clinical Trials in Gynecologic Cancer: A Changing Landscape
Robert Mannel, M.D.
Director, Stephenson Cancer Center
University of Oklahoma College of Medicine
The Urgent Need for Cross-Cutting Anti-Racist Approaches to Cancer Disparities Research
Kemi Doll, M.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Health Systems and Population Health, University of Washington School of Public Health
Clinical Trials in Cervical Cancer: Can They Be All That We Want Them to Be?
Trey Leath, M.D.
Director, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham