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Our Scientific Research

Join us in discovery

Medical research is the study of how our bodies work and how diseases and conditions affect our health and well-being. Women's Health Research at Yale supports promising studies that propose new approaches to understanding sex and gender differences among women and men. And, we’re finding sex-and-gender differences that matter.

We're uncovering and understanding differences in cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, addiction, and more. WHRY leads the way in conducting and spurring research that continues to demonstrate how women and men have different risk factors for diseases, how responses to a given treatment can differ by sex and gender, and how prevention strategies need to be sex-and gender-specific. Together, we can improve the lives of both women and men.

Photo by Robert A. Lisak

Innovative Research, Practical Results

How our studies are transforming science

Women’s Health Research at Yale improves medical research and practice in two ways. First, the center ensures the study of women. The center also examines health differences between and among women and men to improve the lives of everyone.

Some research highlights from our pilot projects

Why is colon cancer risk different between women and men?

Dr. Caroline Johnson found that colon cancer tumor cells produce energy for growth differently in women and men, and that this difference is associated with a more aggressive form of tumor growth with a higher incidence in women. In her ongoing research, Dr. Johnson is using a new method to investigate the products of hormones and beneficial bacteria in the colon to determine risk and protective factors in colon cancer.

Understanding your brain on drugs

Dr. Kelly Cosgrove is scanning the action of chemicals in the brain in “real time” and connecting these actions with drug addiction. She developed this technique and is now using it for the first time to understand how cannabis works in the brain. And whether there are sex differences in response to cannabis.

Recognizing heart attacks in women

Dr. Erica Spatz developed a better way to describe and group heart attacks that accounts for the different ways they can develop in women. Previous systems that doctors use to identify the source of symptoms can obscure heart disease and its risk. This new system provides a more personalized, precision-based approach to ensure more informed medical decisions and better outcome for women.

First to test a behavioral therapy for girls with autism spectrum disorder

Dr. Pamela Ventola tested a behavioral treatment for autism spectrum disorder on girls for the first time. She showed how the treatment not only works for girls but shows better results in girls than boys. Now applied in clinical use, this finding allows researchers and behavioral therapists to explore the specific, different needs of girls and boys with autism.

Breakthrough in using antibodies to treat BRCA-deficient cancers

Dr. Peter Glazer discovered that a product of the body’s immune system associated with the disease lupus can penetrate cancer cells. The cancer cells can then become sensitive to radiation and chemotherapy. Dr. Glazer continues to advance this method for treating cancer. He focuses on types of cancer that develop from inherited mutations to the tumor-suppressing BRCA2 gene.

How beneficial bacteria in the body can lead to autoimmune disease

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.