12 Dec Women’s Health Research Program (WHRP) Awards Grants for 2014 Submissions
The Women’s Health Research Program has awarded two grants for research projects. Meredith Cruz, MD, MBA/MPH, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, along with Sandra Hunter, PhD, Professor of Exercise Science at Marquette University, received funding for a project titled Neuromuscular Function in Women Postpartum. Weiguo Cui, PhD, Associate Investigator at the Blood Center of Wisconsin, received funding for his project A Novel Immunotherapeutic Approach to Fight Ovarian Cancer.
The program was started by Janet Rader, MD, Jack A. and Elaine D. Klieger Professor and Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is directed by Dr. Rader and Ramani Ramchandran, PhD, Vice Chair of Research for Obstetrics and Gynecology. The program is committed to securing the lifelong health of women through research findings that lead to improved clinical practices and patient outcomes.
Drs. Cruz and Hunter have formed a strong interdisciplinary team to understand the changes of abdominal muscles postpartum, as this area is understudied and 20% of women report disabling abdominal pain even 2-3 years postpartum. Women who have delivered vaginally or via Cesarean section, are taking part in this research study. Participants will attend two postpartum visits in which they will undergo various assessments involving imaging, strength, fatigability, and functional performance. The long-term goal of this project is to translate findings into better functional performance and less pain for postpartum women.
Dr. Cui, along with co-investigator Yi-Wen Huang, PhD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, have developed a novel approach to treating ovarian cancer that harnesses the power of the immune system to combat tumor growth and metastasis. The study utilizes engineered CD8 T cells to overcome the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and recruit a robust anti-tumor T cell response at the site of the tumor. Specifically, Dr. Cui plans to extend his approach to a polyclonal level, as well as assess if CD4 T Cells can support CD8 T cells to further eradicate ovarian cancer. The long-term goal of this project is to use this approach therapeutically for a wide range of cancers.
Drs. Cruz and Hunter and Dr. Cui each received a one-year, $50,000 grant to conduct their research projects. Funding for these WHRP awards is made possible by the Dr. Ralph and Marian C. Falk Medical Research Trust and The Hearst Foundation Inc. They will report on their findings and will use these projects to generate extramural funding.
A goal of the Women’s Health Research Program is to build the research capacity of the Medical College in areas that address the unique challenges women face across a spectrum of diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and problems associated with aging. Dr. Rader encouraged scientists to submit projects that met the Institute of Medicine’s definition of women’s health: health conditions that are specific to women; that are more common or more serious in women; that have distinct causes or manifestations in women; that have different outcomes or treatments in women; or that have high morbidity or mortality in women.