Showing posts from 2018

Have you registered? November 7th “Dementia: perspectives, progress and promise."

Even though Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, it is also a complication of Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and a further cause is Lewy Body dementia. Consider this: Seventy percent of dementia cases are due to Alzheimer’s diseaseIt is estimated that one in six women over the age of 55 will develop dementia, compared to one in ten men.   As much as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease research results sound promising, we are cautiously optimistic about the findings that currently dictate the way it is diagnosed and treated.  To date, we have research results that are encouraging:
In 2016, researchers in the US found a direct correlation between dementia and heart health.  In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that addressing cardiovascular disease lowered the risk of dementia. (1), (2) A collaboration between scientists in the US and Australia regarding dementia-related diseases showed that brain inflammation …

The most important facts to remember during National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Even though the rate of ovarian cancer diagnosis has been steadily declining for the past 20 years, we shouldn’t let our guards down.  Awareness is a key factor that will contribute to our health.

Ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer” due to lack of symptoms.  The symptoms are so common that they are often misdiagnosed as other conditions.

“Ovarian Cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States because the majority of women are diagnosed at a late stage after cancer has metastasized.  Five-year overall survival is dismal at 45%; however, if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, survival rates greatly improve to over 92%”, comments Peg Ford, ovarian cancer survivor and President/Co-Founder of the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of San Diego.

Early detection saves lives; however, early screening tests for ovarian cancer are not yet fully developed. You can ask your gynecologist to order imaging tests, particularly if there are abnormal …

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…

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, …