Recently Funded Studies
Women’s Health Research at Yale supports new research that is expected to advance scientific knowledge and to improve women’s health. This year’s content areas include smoking cessation, which is more difficult for women than men; breast and ovarian cancer, the second and fifth leading causes of cancer death among American women; breast ultrasound screening, which is increasingly being used to supplement mammography in women with dense breast tissue, and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, which are more common in women than men.
The 2012 WHRY Pilot Project Program grants and recipients:
PI: Irina Esterlis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
PI: Peter M. Glazer, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Therapeutic Radiology
Dr. Glazer’s study will begin moving a powerful new antibody (a protein made by immune cells to attack disease agents such as cancer cells) toward clinical application for improving breast and ovarian cancer treatments. He discovered that this antibody, 3E10, can increase the vulnerability of various types of cancer cells to radiation and chemotherapy. Early evidence shows this effect is greater in breast and ovarian cancer cells related to mutations of two particular genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2. Inherited mutations involving these genes increase risk for breast and ovarian cancers, and many non-familial breast and ovarian cancers are associated with cell-repair defects involving mutations of these two genes. The ultimate goal is to provide new, more effective treatments for women with breast and ovarian cancers.
PI: Regina J. Hooley, M.D., Assistant Professor of Diagnostic Radiology
Mammography screening can reduce breast cancer mortality through early detection, but has limited ability to detect cancers in women with dense breast tissue. Because of this limitation, other screening methods, including breast ultrasound, have also been used to detect breast cancer. In this study, Dr. Hooley will investigate the performance of breast ultrasound since the 2009 implementation of a Connecticut law which mandated that radiologists inform women with dense breast tissue that they may benefit from supplemental screening with ultrasound, after mammography. Through her review and analysis, Dr. Hooley and colleagues can determine the usefulness of ultrasound plus mammography in detecting tumors not revealed by mammography alone.
PI: Flora M. Vaccarino, M.D., Professor of Neurobiology, and in the Child Study Center
Dr. Vaccarino will take initial steps toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie gender differences in aging, and will identify genes expressed in brain cells, called astroglial cells, involved in aging. These cells, the most abundant cells in the brain, play roles in key areas including maintenance of the blood-brain barrier, transmission of electrical signals, and repair of nerve cells. Gene identification may enable the targeting of particular cellular genes that control growth and play roles in determining gender differences in neurodegenerative diseases and aging. Thus, this study represents first steps at identifying new targets in developing interventions for neurodegenerative disorders, particularly those which are more common in women such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Women’s Health Research at Yale is funding the studies by Drs. Esterlis and Glazer in conjunction with the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center.