Showing posts from 2017

Women and Alzheimer's: Latest findings, facts and figures we ALL need to know.

It is often thought that Alzheimer's disease is indiscriminate of age, race and gender.  Recent research, however, is showing that more women are diagnosed with the disease than men.  According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the US.  Although there is no cure, the latest research focused on identifying, understanding and, ultimately proposing new ways of treatment and management, provide encouraging results. As of November, 2017:
Researchers at the Boston School of Medicine are formulating a new model of the anatomy of the disease. Close collaborations between researchers at the EPFL (ÉCOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FÉDÉRALE DE LAUSANNE) and Rockefeller University have led to the discovery of a new toxic protein that affects the brain; providing an insight on how it ultimately attacks healthy neurons in brain tissue.  Scientists at the University of Twente have developed new optical technology that allows patients to visualize …

Meet the "Mother of Hospice" and her endless support for women's health!

In celebration of National Hospice and Palliative Care month, we celebrate the dediation of Dr. Howell.  She is nationally known as the "mother of hospice".  The ability to identify and act upon the care needs of those who are at the end stages of their lives became the model of care that many organizations follow today.

Doris A. Howell, M.D., a graduate of McGill University School of Medicine, has devoted her life to improving the lives of others. A Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, and an internationally renowned leader hospice care, she was a faculty member at Harvard and Duke Schools of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Pennsylvania.  In 1974, she joined the faculty at UCSD Medical School and chaired the Department of Community and Family Medicine.

When first introduced to the hospice concept in 1968, Dr. Howell immediately embraced this radical departure from the established way of dealing with the dying and their families. H…

A yearly reminder: Have you checked yourself?

Are we winning? The battle that started in 1989 regarding breast cancer research and  treatment and  has represented a 40% decrease in morbidity.  Awareness is Key!

About the Doris A. Howell Foundation:
The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research is dedicated to making a long term, significant impact on women’s health with the goal of “Keeping the Women we Love Healthy.” It is the premier organization in San Diego focused exclusively on women’s health research and education. Through research scholarships, grants and educational events, we prepare young scientists for a career in women’s health research, fund studies specific to “at-risk” and underserved women, and educate the public on the latest research.
                                                          ### Summary & Design prepared by Carolyn Northrup with information from the following sources:
City of Hope:…

Stylin' for Women's Health Research

What does fashion have to do with the Howell Foundation? Increased awareness of the need for women's health research! 
One would think that research and fashion have absolutely nothing in common.  Think again.  We have met some of the most stylish researchers of the day!  But for the Howell Foundation, it is not really about being stylish -- which we are!  It is about creating the much needed awareness of the importance of women's health research.

Why is women's health research so important? 

Research must be at the forefront of any women’s health initiative.  The exclusion of female subjects in current research efforts translates into women often being misdiagnosed.  In the era of personalized medicine, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to treating women's health issues based on research results of male subjects, only places women at a critical risk.

The “Ten Best Dressed Awards" Gala is a fun, novel and creative way to bring awareness to the disparities between men…

Dazed and Confused: The Myths and Realities of the use of Cannabis in Today's Medicine.

The use of cannabis as a recreational and medical drug is plagued with controversy.  While some states in the US have voted and approved the recreational use of it, marijuana still remains a crime at a Federal level. Even though research has shown both positive and negative effects of cannabis, the support of its use is at an all time high -- pun intended!

With the passage of Proposition 64 legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in California last November, it seemed timely to hear about research surrounding this issue.   The Howell Foundation hosted Drs. Susan Tapert and Igor Grant in May, with the objective of discussing the good, the bad, the myths and the realities of cannabis.

The first question to be asked is if the use of marijuana is bad or good for you.  According to research conducted by Dr. Tapert, in young adults, not good.

Dr. Tapert became interested in addictive behavior research as an undergraduate at University of Washington.  Her focus on adolescence started du…

Autism, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, HIV Care for Women and Rett Syndrome among the fields of research of the 2017 Howell - UCSD Scholars.

The 2017 Howell-UCSD scholars will be researching topics that range from Autism to HIV care for women.  A brief description of their studies showcases their incredible enthusiasm in following a career in women's health.

The selection process followed by the Howell Foundation provides insight on the steps that these young scientists will need to follow throughout their career.  More importantly, it provide a glimpse of their thoughts on the state of women's health research in today's world.  One thing is for sure:  placing the need for women's health research at the forefront of the scientific community is the cornerstone of our work to ensure we continue to "keep the women we love healthy!"

We invited our 2017 Howell-UCSD Scholars to talk to the audience about their passion.  Meet the students and their fields of study below.  As always, thank you for your passion in women's health research!

Susan La: 

In the project "EmPower Women: An Intervention U…

Celebrating Women’s Health Week… The Body- Mind Connection: Just get moving!

It is no secret that exercise has numerous benefits for our body and our mind.  Going beyond the idea of losing weight and getting into shape, physical activity helps with depression, decreases heart disease and cancer risks, helps with osteoporosis and just overall makes us feel better.

Exercise is one of the critical aspects highlighted in the Women’s Health Week Initiative from the Office of Women’s Health, along with nutrition, being safe, following up with our health through doctor visits, and taking care of our mental health.

The 5 additional benefits of exercise that should get us moving:

1.- Dance like there is no tomorrow!  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, physical activity “improves cognitive function in healthy elderly persons, and potentially reduces the risk of developing cognitive impairment”.   For those of us who have danced to Salsa (even if we dance with our two left feet) know that being graceful is great exercise!

2.- Move over, Miss America!  Working ou…

A tip a day for National Women's Health Week

The need for women's health research is quite clear: women are at higher risk when being diagnosed and treated based on research conducted on men.  Personalized medicine needs to consider gender and sex, which ultimately starts with research at its most basic: the cellular level.  By understanding the physiological, psychological and social differences between men and women:
Researchers can keep discovering new cures for disease based on the differences between men and women.Doctors can establish the necessary guidelines to treat illness specific to gender and sex –vs. a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The pharmaceutical industry can develop targeted medications that effectively treat and cure illness in a sex-specific manner. Men and women can be informed and become advocates for their own health and, most importantly, their family’s health.   
Understanding women’s health is a win-win for all of us, don’t you think?   From the Office of Women's Health, information worth the sh…

The future cure of infectious disease could be in ourselves!

The Howell Foundation hosted its first North County event with key note speaker Janelle Ayers, Ph.D from the Salk Institute, who walked us through the history of the development of antibiotic resistance and how we fight disease in the twenty first century.  She is currently researching the pathways to winning the war against antibiotic resistance in bacterial infections.

In the continuous fight to beat infectious disease, history has shown us that the use of antibiotics will kill the infection, along with the healthy bacteria that might keep us from fighting the infection.  Bacteria have genetic mutations that are resistant to antibiotics, and we, in turn, just keep on developing antibiotics to rid new strains of bacteria.  We are running out of of options in antibiotic development to beat infectious disease.  And the cycle continues...

So the question still remains:  will our bodies be able to fight infectious disease on their own?  Her answer is YES!  For Dr. Ayers, it's all a…

TODAY is National Doctor's Day!

To those who have crossed the path to making sure that women's health research is at the forefront of our efforts, thank you Howell Scholars (current and past), mentors, CEI recipients, speakers and Board Members! 
Healthy women -- and men-- ensure family health. However, a "one-size-fits-all" approach does not apply to medicine when diagnosing and treating women.  Add the fact that women are still underrepresented in clinical trials --which can lead to misdiagnosis and treatment in women's health-- and you have THE recipe for illness disaster!

Personalized medicine needs to consider gender and sex, which ultimately starts with research at its most basic: the cellular level.  By understanding the physiological, psychological and social differences between men and women:

Researchers can keep discovering new cures for disease based on the differences between men and women.Doctors can establish the necessary guidelines to treat illness specific to gender and sex –vs. a…

As National Nutrition Months comes to an end, the 5 things you can start doing to eat healthier!

Time and time again we have been told that going back to the basics of nutrition IS the healthiest action to take when dealing with health issues.

The fact is -- and all of our speakers have at some point concluded -- that poor nutrition leads to poor health:  cancer, diabetes and heart health leading the list.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, unhealthy eating and inactivity account for almost half a million deaths per year (1)

Even though there are general guidelines on nutritional values, there are marked differences between the effects on nutrition between men and women.  There are many variables that affect our nutrition-- our health, our age, what we do for a living and even our own bodies – and recommendations on healthy eating and the amount of nutrients vary accordingly.

Eating healthy is more about discipline; learning to eat healthy food and teaching our family the value of nutrition.   But the one question worth analyzing is if the society w…

Inside the mind of an MD, and... our youngest Howell Board Member: can you see the brain cells firing?

Jessica Zhang is a newly minted MD serving on our Board of Directors. It is amazing how many things she is able to do for the Howell Foundation, all while pursuing her residency in Emergency Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital/UCSF.

The philosophy of life of this young doctor is, quite frankly, contagious.  Taking a preventive approach on the road to personalized medicine is, perhaps, the most important factor in achieving health.  But that is just my opinion!  Read the wise words of Dr. Zhang, who no doubt will become one of THE best doctors!

"My hope is that my future career is filled with sudden and unpredictable accidents – this sounds terrible, but hear me out.

There are two ways to approach medicine.  The first is to react to a problem that already exists; the second is to prevent the problem from occurring. Our health care system approaches health from the first perspective. With increasingly rare exception, health is only addressed after you are already sick. On t…

For these young minds, women's health matters!

Double the Impact! CSUPERB (California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology) awards a new research grant for each full scholarship the Howell Foundation awards to a CSU undergraduate. A strict protocol is followed in the choice of the students, including review of the students' scholarship applications, and quality of supervision during their research work. This supervision has become known as the "Mentor Program." It is the lifeline to the program's success. Each student must have a qualified mentor to direct and guide them.

The research subjects range from the most basic of life sciences such as cell biology to creating vaccines and testing altered immune reactions. Often the results of the student's research are presented at professional conferences or published in peer-reviewed journals, contributing to the community and the future of women's health nationwide through the advancement of cutting- edge of scientific knowledg…