Past Project Highlights

Previous projects supported by the Women's Health Research Center have studied hormones in venous thromboembolism-related pregnancy, neurovascular control and blood pressure after menopause, sex differences in asthma, and differences in how older men and women respond to flu shots.

Understanding the role of hormones in venous thromboembolism-related pregnancy

Blood clotting that starts in the vein (venous thromboembolism, or VTE) is the third-leading vascular diagnosis for all people and accounts for 10% of maternal deaths. Risk for VTE is heritable and likely results from a combination of multiple genes as well as environmental exposures.

The aim of this project was to identify genetic interactions in pregnant women who experience VTE during pre- or postpartum periods and to better understand why some women experience VTE before or after giving birth and others do not.

Neurovascular control and blood pressure during sympathoexcitatory stress in postmenopausal women

  • Michael J. Joyner, M.D.
  • Professor of Anesthesiology
  • Departments of Anesthesiology, Physiology and Biomedical Engineering, and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

During the transition to and during menopause, some women experience periodic hot flashes, intense sweating during the night and trouble sleeping. These physiological responses are bothersome and negatively impact the quality of their lives. This project was focused on how these responses may represent changes in the nerve activity that put some women at risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.

Role of group 2 innate lymphoid cells in sex differences in asthma

  • Kathleen R. Bartemes, Ph.D.
  • Research Fellow
  • Division of Allergic Diseases Research

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. In asthma, airways constrict, become less flexible, fill with mucus and overreact to inhaled substances. This causes wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness in people with asthma; it can also be fatal.

There are sex differences in asthma: Males are more likely to develop asthma before puberty, while females are more likely to develop asthma after puberty. Women with asthma often have more-severe forms of the disease and are more likely to die of asthma. This project focused on why these differences between men and women exist.

Sex differences in older adults' immune responses to seasonal influenza vaccination

  • Emily Voight, Ph.D.

The flu shot (seasonal influenza vaccination) is a public health method to prevent influenza and influenza-associated epidemics. These vaccinations are available in many convenient locations such as local pharmacies and public events in a one-size-fits-all approach such that the dose of vaccine is the same for everyone.

However, not everyone responds the same way to the vaccine. This project focused on differences in how the immune systems of older men and women respond to these vaccinations.