Why Women's Health Research?

Celebrating the life of a remarkable woman.

It is always a pleasure and an honor to work with wonderful women.  Dr. Skaidrite Krisans, or Skai-- as we called her-- always had a great sense of humor. Her energy and love for life was just contagious. "Skai was a fitness buff and was always willing to try the next new workout," comments Kay Pierce, Treasurer of the Foundation.  "For a while she did the Perfect Workout-- moving very slowly while lifting weights.  I would meet her at her gym and join her in this work out… years ago…"

She continues to talk about Skai. "She loved her trips to Italy and improving her working knowledge of the Italian language.  She took pride in the fact that after the first two trips she was treated like a local in Italy.  In other words, she would go in and buy an espresso and get the locals price and her husband would go in later in the day while she was in her Italian language school and he would get the 'tourista' price. It took them some time to figure out that he…

Addressing neonatal care from the mother's perspective; mood disorders and lactation as fields of research for the 2018 Howell - USD Nursing Scholars

The doctor diagnoses and treats an illness.  Yet, the bottom line is that nurses are the ones who actually take care of our loved ones.  This year, the Cheryl Wilson Scholarships were awarded to Ph.D Candidates Ellen Fleishman and Michelle Lee.
The Cheryl A. Wilson Scholarship was established 6 years ago to honor her for all her work at the Doris Howell Foundation.  A nurse herself, Chery is the Chief Executive Officer of St. Paul's Senior Homes & Services in San Diego.  Proposals for the scholarphips are assessed for their impact on women’s health, research design, scholar qualifications and feasibility of accomplishing study goals.  Each student must have a qualified research mentor to direct and guide them.

Ellen Fleishman, mentored by Cynthia Connely, Ph.D, will be researching mood and anxiety disorders in perinatal women.  In her application, she states that "the purpose of this research study is to examine the relationships between the stigma of perinatal mood and a…

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…