Showing posts from 2018

Are you addicted?

How does one become addicted? Does addiction start with a bad habit? What happens in our brain when we suffer from addiction? What is the correlation between the science, the physiology and the psychology of addiction?  Are there any differences between men and women when discussing addiction?

We hope you will join us on August 17th at the upcoming Howell Foundation Health Lecture Luncheon with guest speaker Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross "Addiction: It's not just drugs and alcohol".

There are many forms of addiction.  One can be addicted to food, to tobacco, to relationships, to video games, to cell phones. But the one element that accompanies addiction is the stigma associated with it: the perception that it is a weakness.  Understanding the science behind addiction becomes a key issue on being able to set an action plan to treat the behavior.

According to, "Addictive substances and behaviors can create a pleasurable “high” that’s physical and psychologica…

Sharing the WISDOM: An Oncologist, a Geneticist and an Epidemiologist walk into a bar...

There isn’t actually a punch line here.  Early detection and accurate treatment for breast cancer is certainly more a relief than a joking matter.  We did, however, get together to learn about the latest advances in breast cancer screening, prevention and treatment.

Because women's health starts with research!  In support of the WISDOM (Women Informed to Screen Depending OMeasures of risk) trial, The Doris A. Howell Foundation celebrated its Health and Happiness Series in June with the presentation “Improving Benefits and Reducing Harms from Breast Cancer Screening: The WISDOM Trial,” hosting three renowned specialists in the areas of oncology, epidemiology and genetic testing. 

The objective was to inform the San Diego community about the latest research being conducted regarding breast cancer screening guidelines, their efficacy, and the steps required to provide women with accurate, personalized prevention processes that effectively diagnose and treat breast cancer ON AN IND…

Wisdom Study, risk assessment and the role genetics play in breast cancer screening.

During the Howell Foundation's Evening Series in June, Dr. Madlensky discussed the genetic perspective of breast cancer and its role in determining the best course of action for women enrolled in the study.  We know that every woman has a set of different risk factors.  Why does reinforcing them matter? What is the best screening recommendation based on an individualized basis?

The Wisdom Trial has two arms. In the randomized arm, women will be assigned to one of two groups, either a group who will receive annual mammograms or a group whose diagnostics will be determined by their personalized profile, including genetics. The second arm is an observational one, where women will continue to receive mammograms (or not) at the frequency to which they are accustomed and under their own physician’s supervision. 

The Wisdom Trial seeks to broaden the understanding of the role risk factors play in the development of breast cancer coupled with the information provided by women, to then pr…

Breast Cancer Screening and the Wisdom Study: How can we address the controversy? Top things to know about breast cancer screening today

“There are many different guidelines by different organizations, and this adds a lot of confusion for women regarding their own health”, comments Dr. LaCroix. “The trial is comparing yearly screening to a personalized screening approach.  The personalized screening will provide a mammogram timeline based on a participant’s individual risk factors (age, personal and family history, genetic tests for gene mutations and variations) linked to the development of breast cancer,”she concludes.

Dr. LaCroix’s participation in the WISDOM Trial is focused on determining how screening can be improved.  She presented the two sides of the breast-health screening coin.  Whereas research shows that overall mortality rates have gone down, one needs to dig in deeper to understand all the moving parts in breast screening: technology – which has certainly improved -- the development of new ways to treat the different stages of breast cancer, and ultimately, personal circumstances, propensity to risk fa…

Making history with the WISDOM Trial: Because when women come together, beautiful things happen.

Precision Medicine Initiative: “A one-size fits all approach to prevention and early detection of breast cancer is not optimal for women”
Dr. Barbara Parker, breast oncologist and Senior Deputy Director of Cancer Medicine, was the first of three keynote speakers.  She discussed breat cancer Precision Medicine, breast cancer incidence and death rates, and treatment advances for early and advanced breast cancer.

In summary, the most important take-away messages from Dr. Parker’s presentation include:

 “Precision Medicine” was defined by the National Cancer Institute in 2015 and  focuses on prevention and treatment strategies that take patients’ individual characteristics into account.  “A one-size fits all approach to prevention and early detection of breast cancer is not optimal for women,” comments Dr.  Parker.  Precision Medicine in breast cancer involves:

Individualizing care based upon genes, environment, and prognosis; that is, individualizing care based upon family history and inh…

Joining Engineering and Medicine: Encouraging yet Challenging! What you need to know about the future of Regenerative Medicine.

During the Howell Foundation luncheon in May, the audience was taken once again to the world of futuristic medicine with the presentation “Advanced Tissue Therapies: Progress in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, presented by Dr. Benjamin Shepherd, Senior Director of Therapeutics at Organovo Inc.

Dr. Shepherd talked about examples of tissue engineering for both drug discovery and therapeutic tissue development.  His presentation focused on current research areas where bioscience and technology have been very successful. He elaborated on the areas of challenge in tissue regeneration:  1) current efforts in organ reconstruction based on previous research in vascular grafts (the blood vessel space), and 2) efforts focused on “additive manufacturing”, also known as 3-dimensional printing.  Of significant importance are the future applications of his own research in both areas.

As individuals live longer, the need to address the surmounting gaps between tissue donors and recipi…

Osteoporosis: An update on the latest research findings.

Going back to 2016, we had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Hofflich, a leading expert in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteopenia and osteoporosis and Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine practicing endocrinology and internal medicine at the UC San Diego Health System.
Back then, she explained the causes and risk factors, the treatment strategies and options and the role calcum plays in the prevention and progression of osteoporosis. 
Need a reminder of the risks, causes and management strategies for osteoporosis and osteopenia?  Via the University of California TV,  and coutesy of the Stein Insitute Research on Aging Lecture Series, an update on the research conducted by Dr. Hofflich below.    

About the Doris A. Howell Foundation: 

For the past 23 years, The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research has been dedicated to keeping to women we love healthy by making a long-term, positive impact on women’s health.  To date, …

Howell Foundation on board with largest health institutions throughout CA in research trial aimed to address the controversy surrounding mammograms

Led by UC San Diego Health, UC Davis Health, UCSF, UCLA Health, UC Irvine, and Sanford Health, mammography screening research trial to determine which strategy produces the most benefit and least harm for women“It’s important for women to have confidence in good scientific research” – WisdomStudy.orgHowell Foundation supporting the efforts of the WISDOM trial with the celebration of the WISDOM event on June 26th Help us make history and register for the event.San Diego, CA; May 2018.- In an effort to bring women’s health research issues to the forefront, the Doris A. Howell Foundation announced it is partnering with UC San Diego and its fellow research organizations in the WISDOM (Women Informed to Screen Depending On Measures of risk) trial.  The study aims to clarify breast cancer screening guidelines regarding frequency and age at which women should receive their screening mammograms.

Howell Board Member and Principal Investigator, Dr. Andrea LaCroix comments: “Screening guidelines…

A reminder on why women's health research is so important, what the Howell Foundation does about it, and why YOU should care!

Bottom line: YOUR health starts with research. 

When your doctor discusses alternative treatments for Alzheimer's Disease, it started with research. Just last week, we learned about one the latest breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s Disease research.  From Science Daily, “the inheritance of small changes in DNA alters the expression of the PM20D1 gene and is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.”

When you know about the differences between men and women, and heart health, it started with research.  Today, not only do we know about the differences between men and women when dealing with heart disease, but thanks to organizations like Be There San Diego and the Howell Luncheon Series, we now have an insight on new technology being developed to prevent and monitor heart health.

When you discuss mammography screening guidelines for breast health, it started with research.  As a matter of fact, our own Dr. Andrea Lacroix will be one of the speakers at the Wo…

Congratulations to the 2018 Howell UCSD Scholars!

One of the cornerstones of the Foundation is to award scholarships to those who are interested in pursuing a career in women's health.  We like to say we want them excited to do so!   With fields or research that range from placental stem cells,  to elevated testosterone in the female system, genetic breast cancer counseling for young survivors and gestational diabetes, these young ladies pretty much prove our point!

Read about the details below!

Hoejeong Kim: Embryonic stem cells differentiate into cells required to make up tissues and organs. Tissue-specific stem cells can be found in most organs and contribute to maintaining and repairing the tissue after stress or damage. Hoejeong’s project will focus on identifying and isolating stem cells called trophoblast stem (TS) cells, which have been found in mice but not yet in human placentas. If placental stem cells can be isolated and their potential understood, the door to their therapeutic use in the treatment of placental insuff…

Women's Health Year Round! Take note of the things you can do to enjoy a healthy lifestyle!


About the Doris A. Howell Foundation:

For the past 23 years, The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research has been dedicated to keeping to women we love healthy by making a long-term, positive impact on women’s health.  To date, it is the premier organization advancing women’s health.

The organization does so by funding scholarships to students researching issues affecting women’s health; providing a forum for medical experts, scientists, doctors, and researchers to convey timely information on topics relevant to women’s health, and by funding research initiatives that improve the health of under-served women and increase awareness and advocacy in the community; bringing women's health research to a full cycle.


Summary & Design prepared by Carolyn Northrup and revised by Carole Banka, PHD with information from the following sources:

In honor of the nurses who help care for us!

National Nurse's week is celebrated May 6th to May 12th.  This incredibly noble profession isn't always recognized as it should.  Aside from treating patients that can be very sick or injured, nurses provide advice and sometimes much needed emotional support to patients and their families as well.  Being a nurse goes beyond helping doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

In 2017, the Howell Foundation awarded Cheryl Boyd and Raelene Brooks the Chery A. Wilson Scholarship.

In her dissertation, Cheryl Boyd is looking to bring an in-depth understanding of the major issues affecting victims of sex trafficking.  She mentions that the gap in nursing knowledge regarding how and why victims are lured into captivity in sex trafficking (entry), how and why they remain in captivity (progression), how they are able to exit captivity, and once out of captivity, their ability to work with the affects upon future relationship status and quality of life is imperative to assist ser…

Going beyond a glass of milk and some sunshine: Top 8 facts of osteoporosis and what experts recommend for healthy bones.

With all the hardships of advancing age (not ready to say "we're old" just yet), new ongoing research shows us the way to age, not only gracefully, but intelligently.

Osteoporosis will happen as we age, and the more information we have to make a healthy decision, the better! 

Often referred to as an asymptomatic, silent illness,  people with osteoporosis either lose too much bone mass, make too little new bone tissue, or both, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).

There are many factors that cause Osteoporosis: being female following menopause, a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol use, being over the age of 50, and not getting enough vitamin D and Calcium are just some of the causes. 
Ongoing research shows that vitamin K12 is as important as vitamin D when discussing bone health!

The severity of the body's bone loss is measured by 'T scores', one of the metrics utilized to determine the condition.  A score of -1 and above indi…