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WHAM ADDS SEVEN WOMEN’S HEALTH EXPERTS TO GROWING COLLABORATIVE
New members bring a combined 170 years of experience across industries and disease areas to inform WHAM’s work to advance women’s health research.
Greenwich, CT (January 12, 2022) – Today, Women’s Health Access Matters (WHAM), a nonprofit organization working to increase awareness of and accelerate funding for women’s health research, announced seven new members of The WHAM Collaborative, a group of leading scientists who help inform everything that WHAM does. The new members include Dr. Robynne Chutkan, MD, Dr. Nicola Finley, MD, Marsha Henderson, Dr. Lisa Mosconi, PhD, Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire, PhD, Dr. Charlotte Owens, MD, and Dr. Annabelle Santos Volgman, MD, who bring expertise and leadership across disease areas and industries to help further women’s health research.
WHAM Collaborative members work together to identify and prioritize key questions for women’s health research; develop studies, collaborate on research, share insights and information; and generate interest and momentum in the research community to focus on women’s health. These seven women join a growing roster of leaders across the country and across disease areas working with WHAM to accelerate health research focused on women.
“Women’s health is an economic issue we can’t afford to ignore. Women make up a little more than half of the U.S. population but are grossly underrepresented in medical research, drug research, and medical device development, even for diseases that affect women more than men,” said Carolee Lee, CEO and Founder of WHAM. “From cardiology and neurology to immunology and gastroenterology, and from the pharmaceutical industry to the federal government, The WHAM Collaborative brings a wealth of hands-on experience focused on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases in which women are disproportionately affected. I look forward to collaborating with each of these incredible experts to work towards increased investment in women’s health research.”
“WHAM understands what kind of impact sex differences and gender biases can have on medicine and on the economy,” said Dr. Nicole Woitowich, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Executive Director of The WHAM Collaborative. “Through The WHAM Collaborative, we are working across silos to gain a better understanding of women’s health disparities and to accelerate research focused on women. I look forward to working with Drs. Chutkan, Finley, Mosconi, Ollmann Saphire, Owens, and Volgman, and Marsha Henderson this year and in the future to close the gender gap in medical research.”
“Women and men are biologically different, even in their digestive systems,” said Dr. Robynne Chutkan, an integrative gastroenterologist and microbiome expert, bestselling author, and founder of the Digestive Center for Wellness. “My goal in digestive health has always been to pinpoint root causes of GI disorders, so I can help my patients heal from the inside out. That work needs to take sex as a biological variable into consideration in order to most effectively treat patients. I look forward to working with WHAM and my fellow collaborative members to further women’s health research across the board.”
Dr. Chutkan is the author of digestive health books, including Gutbliss, The Microbiome Solution, and The Bloat Cure. Dr. Chutkan received her bachelor’s from Yale University, her medical degree from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed her fellowship in gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. She has been on the faculty at Georgetown University Hospital since 1997.
“Integrative medicine shows us that so much is connected – our brains, hearts and immune systems,” said Dr. Nicola Finley, a board-certified internal medicine physician with a consulting practice focused on integrative medicine, women’s health, diversity and inclusion in wellness, employee wellness and global health equity. “I am thrilled to be working with WHAM to increase awareness and address the gender and racial gaps in health and wellness across diseases that impact women the most.”
Dr. Finley serves on the faculty of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. She has practiced integrative medicine at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, and provided care to economically disadvantaged communities at El Rio Community Health Center and St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson. Dr. Finley is a graduate of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Brown University.
“For over 30 years, we have known we have a problem with the health of women in this country,” said Marsha Henderson, the former Associate Commissioner for Women’s Health at the Food and Drug Administration. “At this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are at a critical moment to make real, lasting change for women and communities of color through investments in equitable health research, and I am so glad to be joining The WHAM Collaborative at this moment. WHAM’s work shows us we can no longer hide from what a lack of investment in women’s health is doing to our families and to our economy.”
Marsha Henderson is a nationally recognized innovative leader and change agent for the health of women and their families. During her decade-long tenure at the FDA, Henderson served as a voice to include women in research, education, and policy initiatives to build a better understanding of sex differences and health issues that disproportionately or uniquely impact women. She created the first FDA Women’s Health Research Roadmap, outlining seven priority areas for new or enhanced research across disease areas and new cutting-edge areas of science. She is the first recipient of the Dr. Estelle Ramey Award for Women’s Health Leadership in recognition of her exemplary leadership in women’s health and a commitment to the study of the impact of sex differences on health.
“For too long, women have been overlooked in health and medicine, and women’s brain health is constantly glossed over despite more than two-thirds of U.S. Alzheimer’s patients being women,” said Dr. Lisa Mosconi, Director of Women’s Brain Initiative and of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic, both at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Genetics, hormones, environment, and lifestyle all shape the brain. I am excited to bring my work at the intersection of neuroscience and women’s health to The WHAM Collaborative to help further investment in women’s health research.”
Dr. Mosconi’s research is focused on discovering sex-based molecular targets and precision therapies to prevent, delay, and treat Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Mosconi is the author of two books, The XX Brain and Brain Food, bringing 15+ years of research out of the lab and into everyone’s lives.
“Women are not small men, and men are not large women,” said Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire, a world-renowned virus expert and the first woman chosen to lead La Jolla Institute for Immunology as President and CEO. “From COVID-19 to autoimmune diseases, sex-specific differences are critical to a full understanding and treatment of disease, which is why WHAM’s work to further women’s health research is so important.”
Dr. Ollmann Saphire’s research explains, at the molecular level, how and why viruses are pathogenic and provides the roadmap for medical defense. Dr. Ollmann Saphire has been at the center of efforts across the globe to identify therapies to prevent and treat SARS-CoV-2 and to research COVID-19 mutations. Dr. Ollmann Saphire is a leader in collaborative research, working to make scientific data more open and accessible across research silos in order to advance science. The work of LJI also focuses on the differences in fundamental immunology of women versus men, which drive different disease propensities and outcomes.
“From practicing as an Ob-Gyn to advocating for the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion and patient-centered approaches in biomedical research to advance the health of women and communities of color, my entire career has been dedicated to women’s health and improving the overall health of communities,” said Dr. Charlotte Owens, Vice President and Head of Research & Development, Center for Health Equity and Patient Affairs at Takeda. “WHAM is making the economic case for change, and that’s why I’m so glad to be joining The WHAM Collaborative.”
Dr. Owens has led research including studies on uterine fibroids that disproportionately affect African American women, and prior to joining Takeda, was the Therapeutic Area Lead in U.S. Medical Affairs for Women’s Health at AbbVie.
“When I started my residency in 1984, cardiovascular disease was the number one killer of American women. It is still the number one killer of American women today,” said Dr. Annabelle Santos Volgman, co-founder and medical director of the Rush Heart Center for Women, the first heart program in Chicago devoted exclusively to women. “There has been tremendous progress in women’s heart health over the course of my career that I am proud to have been a part of, but there is still so much more work to be done to help women through prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Research focused on women is absolutely critical, and I am glad to be joining The WHAM Collaborative to further this important work.”
Dr. Volgman’s research has been pivotal in atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia that disproportionately affects the risk of stroke in women. Dr. Volgman has written numerous abstracts and articles on women, stroke and heart disease and is a prominent leader with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. She has been named a Top Doctor by Chicago Magazine and was featured in O Magazine as Oprah Winfrey’s cardiologist.
About WHAM (Women’s Health Access Matters)
Women’s health is an economic issue we can’t afford to ignore. WHAM works to increase awareness of and funding for women’s health research by accelerating scientific discovery in women’s health in four primary disease verticals – autoimmune disease, brain health, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The WHAM Report quantifies the economic opportunity for investing in women’s health, looking across diseases that impact women differently and differentially, including coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Learn more at www.thewhamreport.org and www.whamnow.org. Learn more about The WHAM Collaborative here.