2019 Awardees

Sex steroids and autonomic regulation of the vascular tone

Menopausal hormone treatments are used by women to relieve hot flashes, night sweats and sleep disturbances that are common in the transition to and during menopause. Women who experience these conditions may be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and stroke. This study focuses on how estrogen in menopausal hormone treatments affects regulation of the nerves that control the blood vessels to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Determining the effect of pregnancy on pancreatic islet structure and function to understand women's risk of type 2 diabetes

  • Aoife M. Egan, M.B., B.Ch., Ph.D.
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Funded by the Mayo Clinic Women's Health Research Center
  • (12/2019-11/2020)

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that affects many women during pregnancy. While it typically resolves after delivery, gestational diabetes poses a significant risk of future type 2 diabetes mellitus in women. This study will examine the changes occurring in the structure of the human pancreas during pregnancy, and the changes in function that occur in the year following delivery. The results will give us novel insights into the pathogenesis of diabetes in women.

Development of novel early detection test to reduce racial disparities in endometrial cancer mortality

  • Mark E. Sherman, M.D.
  • Professor of Epidemiology and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology
  • Department of Health Sciences Research
  • Funded by the Mayo Clinic Women's Health Research Center
  • (2/2019-1/2021

Screening tests to detect early cancers lead to early treatment and reduce deaths from the disease. However, these screening tests may not be equally or easily available to all groups of women.

This study will determine the effectiveness of an at-home, tampon-based test to detect endometrial cancer in various racial groups of women. Such an easy-to-use test could overcome an accessibility barrier for cancer screening that would reduce racial disparities in death from endometrial cancer.

Prolactin and pain

  • Frank Porreca, Ph.D.
  • Supplemental Consultant
  • Division of Molecular Neuroscience
  • Funded by the Sperling Foundation Award
  • (1/2019-12/2020)

Stress may trigger pain more readily in some women than in most men. Stress may activate release of the hormone prolactin from the brain, which results in sensitization of pain receptors, including those associated with migraine. This project is characterizing the receptors and circuits activated by prolactin in order to develop a specific therapeutic target to alleviate pain.

Image-based assessment of sex differences in glioblastoma therapeutic response

  • Kristin R. Swanson, Ph.D.
  • Professor of Neurosurgery
  • Department of Neurologic Surgery
  • Funded by the Mayo Clinic Women's Health Research Center
  • (4/2019-3/2020)

Glioblastoma — a type of cancer that develops from cells in the brain — occurs more frequently in men than in women. This project investigates if there is a difference in how men and women respond to glioblastoma treatment.

Understanding sex differences in treatment responses will help researchers develop more effective, sex-specific treatments to improve men's glioblastoma survival rates.