Pittsburgh Will Power an International Initiative to Improve Human Health the Magee-Womens Research Summit Will Bring Together Experts from around the World to Remake the Future, Explains Michael J. Annichine of Magee-Womens Research Institute

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), September 30, 2018 | Go to article overview

Pittsburgh Will Power an International Initiative to Improve Human Health the Magee-Womens Research Summit Will Bring Together Experts from around the World to Remake the Future, Explains Michael J. Annichine of Magee-Womens Research Institute


Pittsburgh prides itself on medical innovation. From polio to organ transplants, CTE to Alzheimer's, this region has proven itself a ripe ecosystem for important discoveries that are changing lives and reshaping human history.

In October, we have the opportunity to once again create this kind of impact, when experts in women's health from around the world gather to showcase the most significant developments in the field.

The Magee-Womens Research Summit, which will run Oct. 9 and 10 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, aims to propel women's health - traditionally one of the most understudied areas in medicine - to the forefront of an international conversation. Through the generosity of the R.K. Mellon Foundation, the summit will award the inaugural Magee Prize - at $1 million, it will be one of the largest medical prizes in any discipline. We are doing this for one reason: We think that a collaborative initiative in women's health could dramatically improve human health across the lifespan, around the globe.

Our keynote speaker, Lara Logan, speaks poignantly of her firsthand experiences in navigating the health care system. While in Egypt's Tahrir Square working for CBS News in 2011, she was brutally beaten and gang-raped by a mob of 200 to 300 men, leading to internal injuries and interstitial cystitis, from which she continues to recuperate. She has spent years pursuing an accurate diagnosis while working through excruciating pain.

Unfortunately, Ms. Logan is far from alone: A 2008 National Institute of Health study found that women wait longer than men to receive pain medication in emergency rooms. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence found that one in 10 women suffer from endometriosis, but despite the disease's prevalence, doctors take, on average, seven to eight years to diagnose it, in part because women's reports of pain are not taken seriously enough.

A year after the Tahrir Square attack, Ms. Logan was diagnosed with breast cancer. Even today, she hesitates to call herself a survivor, and she worries about recurrence. But she expresses hope in new therapies arising from the decoding of the human genome - therapies that are being developed at the Magee-Womens Research Institute, the largest research institute in the United States devoted exclusively to women's health and reproductive biology.

As recently as the 1970s, women were largely excluded from clinical trials and subjected to treatments that had been developed largely through the study of men, sometimes with tragic consequences. It was not until 1993 that Congress mandated adequate inclusion of women in NIH-sponsored clinical trials to help determine sex-based differences in disease manifestation and treatment.

Today, we are working hard to overcome the barriers of the past. The Magee Obstetric Maternal & Infant Database and Biobank offers a wealth of biological samples linked to a web-based inventory system that is available to researchers both within and outside of our academic home. …

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