The future of Women's Health

NIH Conference, Hosted in Providence, Will Develop Agenda for Women’s Health Research

September 3, 2009  |  Media Contact: Mark Hollmer |  401-863-2476
Moving into the Future: New Dimensions and Strategies for Women’s Health Research for the NIH, a conference and workshop in Providence Sept. 21-23, 2009, is jointly sponsored by The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital. Clinicians and members of the public may attend and offer testimony.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University are hosting a national conference in September, part of a major undertaking designed to help shape the future of women’s health research.

The Office of Research in Women’s Health of the NIH is the formal sponsor of the event.

Organizers are hoping clinicians and members of the public will turn out in large numbers. The Providence-based event, to be held from Sept. 21-23, 2009, is designed in part to solicit public testimony as the NIH plans another decade of women’s health research efforts.

Clinicians or members of the public seeking to offer public testimony can register online at www.womenandinfants.org/body.cfm?id=1087. The link also offers more details about the conference agenda and hotel information.

“This is the chance of a lifetime to really have a say in the future of research for sex and gender differences, and at the same time meet and network with key scientists and researchers from the NIH and the region,” said Dr. Joanna Cain, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Alpert Medical School, where she is also the Chace/Joukowsky Professor and assistant dean for women's health programs. Cain, who serves as obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief at Women & Infants, is one of the regional organizers of the conference.

National, regional and local health care experts, policy-makers, scientists, clinicians and members of the general public will be taking part in a combined conference and workshop. All sessions are scheduled for the Women & Infants Hospital Education Center, 101 Dudley St. in Providence.

Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, the Massachusetts secretary of health and human services, will give the keynote address on policy gaps that identify research gaps in women’s health.

Three state and national health care leaders are expected to give welcoming remarks: Dr. Vivian Pinn, director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) at the National Institutes of Health; Constance Howes, president and CEO of Women & Infants Hospital, and Dr. Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological science at Alpert Medical School and the Frank L. Day Professor of Biology at Brown University.

Pinn will also help launch the second day of the scientific workshops on Sept. 22, along with Clyde Briant, vice president for research at Brown University. Other program leaders include Terrie (Fox) Wetle, associate dean of medicine for public health and public policy at Brown University.

A number of additional legislators and policy-makers are also expected to attend and speak, and residents and clinicians will have the opportunity to give testimony during a four-hour public hearing on the first day of the conference. Congressional members and staff from the region and members of the advisory board to the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health will be among those receiving the testimony.

Co-organizer Dr. Karen Rosene-Montella, chief of medicine at Woman & Infants, said it is important for NIH officials to hear from both clinicians and the public.

“We need their input,” said Rosene-Montella, who is also professor of medicine and ob-gyn at Alpert Medical School. “We are dedicated to identifying the gaps in research that will inform better care for women across their lifespan.”

Dr. Maureen Phipps, another conference-co-organizer, said much of the discussion will touch on looking at new ways to work together and bringing scientific discoveries to patients. “We anticipate broad discussion in this conference to stimulate discussion around innovative interdisciplinary approaches to research,” said Phipps, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Alpert Medical School.

Phipps added she sees those approaches addressing “significant women’s health issues,” including “a focus on translating critical research discoveries from basic science to applications that lead to improvements in clinical care and population health.” Phipps is also director of the Research Division of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Women & Infants Hospital.

The goal of the conference is to make sure research on women’s health issues remains focused and cutting-edge in the 21st century.

The NIH conference in Providence is one of four around the country designed to develop strategies for women’s health. The NIH held similar events at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis March 4-6, 2009, and at the University of California–San Francisco May 27-29, 2009. A third event is scheduled for Northwestern University in Chicago in October 2009.

A final NIH women’s health meeting is planned for spring of 2010 to collect findings from the four regional meetings, with additional input from NIH researchers. A final document representing strategic research priorities for the next decade will be made public in September 2010, around the time of ORWH’s 20th anniversary at NIH.

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.