Posted by on November 18, 2009 - 4:01pm

The Institute for Women's Health Research held its monthly forum on Tuesday with speaker Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes giving her talk entitled, "'Dying from' to 'living with' HIV/AIDS: Framing Institutions and the coping process of infected black women."

Dr. Watkins-Hayes began her talk by highlighting the huge discrepancies in HIV/AIDS occurrence by race: through 2007, 60% of women with HIV/AIDS were black or African-American identified. The statistics are even more striking in the local Chicago area: blacks in Chicago account for 55% of HIV/AIDS incidence, while only being 36% of the entire population. Similarly shocking, black women in Chicago account for 76% of all HIV/AIDS occurrences in the city.

The remainder of the talk discussed the results of the Sister to Sister study that Dr. Watkins-Hayes performed in Chicago. The study worked with 25 women with HIV/AIDS through two in-depth interviews and one other observation session where the woman's health status was known and salient. The participants had an average age of 36, all had children, and the majority had low income (<15K/year).

The crux of Dr. Watkins-Hayes' argument is that many individuals can serve as "framing institutions" for a woman diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, these are the people or communities that give the initial information about health status, give a framework for how to understand the social meaning of the illness, give women a language to discuss their diagnoses, and offer resources for dealing with the implications of their disease.  Often, these institutions are the doctors and nurses that give the initial HIV or AIDS status, but they can also be as diverse as drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation centers that are targeting very different problems than an HIV/AIDS, or pastors and private therapists. These people, rather than friends or family, seem to be responsible for shaping how women really look at the disease and begin to accept it. If these framing institutions are not supportive or shaming about the health diagnoses, women are less likely to begin to transition to "living with" their disease. While middle and upper class women are more likely to have access to private framing institutions, lower income women are at significant risk, due to lack of time, money, or acess, of not finding strong, positive framing institutions.

I urge you all to check out Dr. Watkins-Hayes biography page; on it you will find a link to the website she helps organize, links to some of her excellent publications, and descriptions of her current projects. One of her major upcoming projects is a large scale study of the social implications of HIV/AIDS for African-American women. If you'd like to hear more about the study, or discuss being a participant, please contact one of the students working with Dr. Hayes Watkins on the project, Amanda Armour at or 312-320-1223.

Posted by on October 6, 2009 - 2:56pm

Institute for Healthcare Studies Seminar Series presents:

“Illinois Women’s Health Registry: A Catalyst for Innovative Research”

Sarah Bristol-Gould, PhD

Director of Research Programs

Institute for Women’s Health Research at Northwestern University

October 8th , 2009 from 12pm to 1pm.

Room 421, Wieboldt Hall, 340 E. Superior Street, Chicago, IL

This event is free and open to the public. (Lunch provided for attendees)

At the conclusion of this activity, participants will be able to:
1.       Describe why research needs to be designed to study and sex- and gender-determinants of health and disease.
2.       Understand how the Illinois Women’s Health Registry serves as an access point for information exchange between the research environment and community women.
3.       Explore how the Illinois Women's Health Registry serves as a catalyst for clinical research.

ACCREDITATION STATEMENT:  Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.  Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™.  Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

DISCLOSURE:   Speaker does not intend to refer to products of a commercial company with which he/she is affiliated.

The following sponsor this Seminar Series:
● Institute for Healthcare Studies
● NorthShore/Center on Outcomes, Research and Education (CORE)
● The Buehler Center on Aging
● VA Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care (CMC3)
● RIC, Center for Rehabilitation Outcomes Research

This presentation will also be telecast to Hines VA, Bldg. 1, Room C-207.
For more information on this lecture, please contact Allan Doeksen at

Posted by on September 29, 2009 - 6:18pm

The Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Alliance, sponsored by the Institute for Women's Health Research presents:

"Women's Health -- Does Sex Matter?"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009, 5:00-6:00 pm

A reception will be held 30 minutes prior and following the discussion

Prentice Women’s Hospital, Harris Family Foundation Atrium - Third Floor

250 E. Superior Street Chicago, Illinois

Please join WLMA in welcoming Dr. Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD - Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Founder and Director of the Institute for Women’s Health Research.  Dr. Woodruff will discuss women’s health and the sex and gender dynamic that affects women and our relationship with medicine.


Photo: Huge Galdones

Current knowledge about the interaction between sex and gender on health and disease is imperfect and only now evolving.  We now know that a person’s biological sex plays a predominant role in the cause, origin, beginning and subsequent progression of disease. In addition, gender, or one’s behavioral, cultural or psychological traits, influences risk profiles, symptom recognition, disease severity, and access to health education and quality care. We must ensure that sex and gender are studied at the most basic cellular and molecular level so that when studies are translated into clinical human studies, we already know the potential for different responses in men and women.  For example, unforeseen side effects can result when we introduce new drugs and treatments to humans without adequately studying them in both male and female animal models. Dr. Woodruff will share specific examples of why sex matters and we will learn what this means to us as patients, mothers, daughters, wives and caregivers.  We will have the opportunity to learn firsthand what is being done in the world of medical research to improve the lives of women.

Please join us and our esteemed speaker in this riveting discussion on women’s health. This event is free and open to the public.

Complimentary parking will be provided at the Huron/St. Clair garage, located at  222 East Huron Street.

Please RSVP for this program by Friday, October 23, 2009, by sending an email to

Posted by on September 28, 2009 - 10:41am

“The Promises and Myths of Breast Cancer Research”

Sunday, October 4, 2009 from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Fairmont Chicago, 200 N. Columbus Dr.

Do you have questions about breast cancer treatment options, family history, integrative medicine, diagnosis and support?  The Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Town Hall Meeting, hosted by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, provides an opportunity to have your questions answered by experts, visit exhibits of breast cancer advocacy organizations and products, and to learn about local and national support services.

William Gradishar, M.D., Director of Breast Medical Oncology at the Lurie Cancer Center will moderate. Topics and panelists include:  Nora Hansen, MD--surgery, John Hayes, MD--radiation oncology, Virginia Kaklamani, MD--cancer genetics, Melinda Ring, MD--integrative medicine. This event is free and open to the public.

Please call 312-695-1304 or visit to register.   Walk-ins welcome.  Discounted parking and free shuttle available from Erie/Fairbanks/Ontario Garage, 321 E. Ontario (Ontario St. exit).