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NIH Women's Health Public Forum and Scientific Workshop in Chicago

October 9, 2009 | by Marla Paul

CHICAGO - The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital will host a public forum and scientific workshop Oct. 14 to 16 to discuss emerging issues of importance for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for women's health research in the coming decade.

"We're challenging people to think beyond traditional women's health issues and look to the future," said Andrea Dunaif, M.D., who is moderating the public hearing and is the Charles F. Kettering Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Feinberg School and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The town hall meeting, sponsored by the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health is the final of four regional events held across the country to solicit comments for the future of women's health research. The meeting will begin with a public hearing to gather input from scientists, health care providers, patients, community and advocacy groups and other interested parties. 

"We need to determine where to focus our research to advance women's health," added Dunaif, also chief of the division of endocrinology, metabolism and molecular medicine at Feinberg. "There is still much we need to learn about how sex hormones and genes affect disease, and how we can involve women in more clinical trials."

Vivian W. Pinn, M.D., director of the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health, noted, "We are at a critical juncture to anticipate futuristic and unique women's health research programs based upon emerging science, new technologies and innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches across the lifespan."

"We invite women and men, scientists and practitioners, and advocates for women's health to join us in identifying where women's health research should take us over the next 10 years, recognizing also the concerns about conditions unique for girls and women, as well as the effects of biologic sex as a modifier of cellular and genetic function and its relationship to improved disease prevention, detection and treatment for methodologies or conditions that may affect both women and men," she said. 

The public hearing takes place Oct. 14 for the public and scientists to offer their opinions on the next decade's health priorities. Then scientific panels and workshops on Oct. 15 to 16 will address a wide range of topics including sex hormones and disease, genetics, neuroscience, clinical trials, new technologies in bioengineering and imaging and women in science careers.

In addition, the Under-Studied and Under-Represented Populations workshop will look at issues of poverty as it affects women's health and the health of women in urban and rural areas, minority women's health and the impact of disabilities upon women's health across the lifespan. A related populations workshop will discuss the lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues that affect women's health.

Some of the highlights of the three-day event include:

Public hearing: Wednesday, Oct. 14, Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center, 303 E. Superior St., in the Hughes Auditorium, Chicago campus. Interested individuals can provide oral or written testimony to a panel of scientists, clinicians and NIH representatives.

Registration for the hearing will be from noon to 1 p.m., followed by a welcome talk by Pinn. At 1:15 p.m., the panel of experts will discuss the health needs of underserved populations of women. At 2:15 p.m., the public hearing begins. 

Those interested in providing written or oral testimony can submit a request at


For more information and to register for the public hearing, visit


At 8:45 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, Maggie Daley will welcome scientists to the workshops and panels. Daley's talk will be followed by a keynote speech by Carole Heilman, director of the division of microbiology and infectious disease at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Her speech is titled "2009 H1N1 Influenza: Research Activities and Potential Impact on the Nation, Its Women and Children."

At 8:40 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16, Phoebe Leboy, president of the National Association for Women in Science, will give a keynote speech called "Retaining Women in Academic Careers." The Oct. 15 and 16 main events for scientists will be held at the Northwestern University Thorne Auditorium, in the Rubloff Building, 375 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago campus.

Topics: Campus Life