Wellness Quest Magee-Womens Research Institute Dangles $1M Prize to Lure Female Health Visionaries

By Daly, Jill | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), September 25, 2017 | Go to article overview

Wellness Quest Magee-Womens Research Institute Dangles $1M Prize to Lure Female Health Visionaries


Daly, Jill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


With every birth of a child comes the glow of his or her potential. But women's health researchers know well that the promise of a long, happy, healthy life often falls short.

To turn that around and build momentum, Magee-Womens Research Institute hopes to make a big splash with a $1 million prize for an outstanding innovative research idea in women's health. The prize - which ranks among the highest in medicine -- will be awarded at a 2018 summit in Pittsburgh where visionary ideas and collaboration will be on the agenda, according to Yoel Sadovsky, MWRI executive director.

The prize winner will partner with Magee researchers, he said. The goal is improving women's health across the globe.

"We feel very strongly about the role of women in society," Dr. Sadovsky said. "From pregnancy to older adults, we feel the role of women in society deserves more attention."

At the institute, the health of a woman, from nine months of pregnancy to 90 years old, is the focus of its "9-90" research, including studies of the mechanisms of reproductive development, of the impact of diseases of pregnancy and in newborns, of the pathways that lead to infertility and of genetic and prenatal influences on placental development.

Details of the Magee Prize competition are still being worked out and will be announced in January, Dr. Sadovsky said. The Richard King Mellon Foundation is providing funding for the prize. The 9-90 Research Summit will be held Oct. 8-10 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.

"We're trying to challenge the scientists who come to the meeting to bring a visionary statement on what is next in the field for the next 10 to 20 years," Dr. Sadovsky said.

The idea for the conference started about two years ago, he said.

"We were pondering the idea of taking our base, the Magee-Womens Research Institute, and developing it into a much bigger entity, nationally and globally," he said.

The institute and its board have put together a conference that brings together a range of scientists, data specialists and others to encourage creative, innovative interactions, he said, "to make a road map to impact the women's community as a whole."

The institute has partnerships and clinical trials around the world and ranks at the top of U.S. research institutes devoted exclusively to women's health; it pulled in about $40 million in funding in 2016 from the National Institutes of Health. The institute's relationship with Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC gives it some important research assets, including the Magee Obstetric Maternal & Infant Biobank and Database and the Women's Cancer Research Center.

Although the NIH funds most health research in the U.S., Magee's CEO Michael Annichine said, preliminary data that is the foundation for that work takes more risks and has to be funded by philanthropic giving. …

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