When people ask me about supporting Women’s Health Research at Yale, they quickly understand the urgent practical importance of a donation.
After all, it wasn’t until the 1990s that women were required to be included in clinical studies seeking grants from the National Institutes of Health — the single largest provider of biomedical research funding.
For 20 years, WHRY has led efforts to fill an enormous gap in knowledge about women’s health and to understand critical differences between women and men and among populations of women and men.
Thanks to the ripple effects of WHRY’s research studies, the influential careers of the students and junior faculty members the center has trained, and its effective communications to medical professionals, policymakers, and the public, we are changing the landscape of medical research and practice.
This isn’t just about catching up and declaring victory. This is a mission with no end. The fact is that there will always be a need to study women and to understand how sex and gender influence the development of and treatments for diseases and other medical conditions.
A few recent examples:
- Dr. Erica Spatz developed an improved classification system to describe and group heart attacks that accounts for the different ways they can develop and present in women. While previous systems can actually obscure heart disease and its risk, this new system ensures more informed medical decisions and better outcomes for women.
- Dr. Pamela Ventola (pictured) tested, for the first time, a socio-behavioral treatment, Pivotal Response Therapy, for autism spectrum disorder on girls. She showed how the treatment not only works for girls but shows better results in girls than boys. Now applied clinically, her findings allow researchers and therapists to explore the specific and diverse needs of girls and boys with autism.
- Dr. Peter Glazer discovered that one product of the body’s immune system associated with the disease lupus can penetrate cancer cells, which can then become sensitive to radiation and chemotherapy. Dr. Glazer continues to advance this method for treating cancer with a focus on types of cancer that develop from inherited mutations to the tumor-suppressing BRCA2 gene.
- Dr. Martin Kriegel showed that bacteria in the small intestines can travel to other organs and confuse immune cells into attacking the body. He also found that targeting the bacteria can suppress this autoimmune response. Such findings provide new ways for treating autoimmune conditions, such as lupus, which occur at far greater rates in women.
In addition, WHRY’s work is directing attention to cancers more common and more deadly in women, reducing viral infections during pregnancy, using real-time brain scans to examine for the first time how smoking cannabis affects women and men differently, and improving the lives of women experiencing chronic urinary tract infections, domestic violence, depression, and much more.
There are so many good reasons to donate to WHRY. As a self-supporting center, we need your help to continue this work. Without you, it won’t get done.
With thanks for your generous contributions,
Barbara M. Riley