My Blog Posts

Posted by on December 23, 2009 - 1:22pm

As we come to the end of the special exhibit Changing the Face of Medicine, Celebrating America's Women Physicians at the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center here at Northwestern, we thought we’d provide a recap of some comments from our special exhibit event “Mentorship in Action” that occurred on December 7th.  At this event, several Northwestern women spoke about their experience as mentors and mentees, including Dr. Neena Schwartz from the Department of Neurobiology and Physiology, whose career has certainly paved the way for all women in science and medicine.

Dr. Neena Schwartz

Dr. Neena Schwartz

In her talk Dr. Schwartz addressed her own experience as a mentee and the status of women in medicine and research today, and gave her own recommendations for mentoring others.  Her academic career began at Goucher College, which was an all women’s college at the time.  She talked about her experience with mentors, some good and some not-so-good, but highlighted Meredith Runner from the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine and Allen Lein from Northwestern’s physiology department.  Dr. Schwartz acknowledged that despite these positive mentors, she was also faced with many hurdles as a woman in science, noting that when she was an instructor at the University of Illinois Medical School, it was thought inappropriate for a pregnant woman to lecture to medical students.  In the 1950’s this was a typical attitude towards women, and something that Dr. Schwartz strove to overcome.

In 1971, at the annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Schwartz and a group of 27 other women colleagues founded the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) with the goal of increasing the number of women in tenure track positions and in study sections to review grants at the NIH.  In 1974, AWIS sued the NIH forcing them to stop all appointments to study sections.  They were to provide a list of all vacancies, a list totaling 413, to which AWIS responded with a list of 1000 qualified women scientists.  Although a major hurdle, opinions of women in science did not seem to progress rapidly from there.  Dr. Schwartz recalled being asked by a female graduate student if people laughed at her when she gave a paper at a meeting, to which Dr. Schwartz replied, “Only when I tell a joke.”  This comment, however, stressed the importance of mentoring young women students in the sciences.  Over the next several years other women societies starting forming including the Women in Endocrinology (WE) with which Dr. Schwartz was also involved. Although the presence of women in science and medicine has certainly increase over the last few decades, Dr. Schwartz brought up an article from 2006 in the New England Journal of Medicine that pointed out disparities still do exist in authorship of academic medical literature.

Lastly, Dr. Schwartz emphasized the importance of mentoring young female students stressing that a mentor should help a mentee define her research and career goals and nurture and guide her without stifling independent thought.  She also pointed out that colleagues can often be mentors by recommending women for committees and talks and by offering to critique CVs.  Overall Dr. Schwartz’s talk was informative and inspiring to the audience of both women and men from students to seasoned professionals.

Dr. Schwartz’s new book “A lab of My Own” will be available sometime in 2010.

Posted by on December 3, 2009 - 10:51am

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) damages the white blood cells of the immune system, reducing the body’s ability to fight off bacterial infection, viruses, and other diseases such as pneumonia and some cancers.  Late stage HIV is often referred to as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The most common causes of HIV infection are through sexual contact, infected blood transfusion, or sharing needles or syringes.  HIV symptoms vary with the phase of infection.  Early symptoms may resemble a flu virus, but infected individuals may show no symptoms for eight or nine years.  Later symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, and diarrhea.  Advanced HIV and AIDS symptoms are more severe and include night sweats, chills, fever, lesions or white spots in the mouth, headache and chronic diarrhea.  Treatment for HIV involves an array of anti-retroviral medications, coordinated to each individual’s response.  New treatments are continually being developed and tested in clinical trials.

Resources at Northwestern for HIV:

The HIV Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital offers comprehensive assessment and treatment for HIV.  The Center offers services such as patient/family education, medication instruction, clinical trials, medical and legal referrals and an infusion center.  Within the HIV Center there are specialty clinics for patients needing care in medical areas of hepatology, neurology, ophthalmology and hematology, and also in obstetrics and gynecology.  Inpatient hospital care is also provided with an interdisciplinary approach to disease treatment.

For more information contact: (312) 926-8358

Northwestern Physicians/ Researchers specializing in HIV treatment:

The Division of Infectious Disease at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine offers inpatient and outpatient services for the diagnosis and treatment of HIV and other infectious diseases.  The Division’s 9 full-time faculty members all receive external grants for basic science and clinical research projects.  Dr. Sarah Sutton’s research interests include perinatal transmission of HIV, and HIV and women, while Dr. Steven Wolinsky, the Division Chief, studies the evolutionary mechanisms at work in the emergence, spread and containment of diseases such as HIV.

Click to see physician profiles and clinic information:

IWHR Highlighted Researcher

Dr. Kimberly Scarsi, PharmD, MSc is a Research Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Disease at Northwestern University.  Her research focuses on the pharmacokinetics of HIV treatment in women, particularly during pregnancy.  Dr. Scarsi's research recognizes the need for studies in women since previous research has been conducted primarily in men.  Dr. Scarsi is studying the fluctuation in antiviral concentrations during pregnancy, toward the goal of treating these women more efficiently.  She is also comparing results of her studies in the US with sister studies in Africa, where nearly 60% of those infected with HIV are women.  Recently Dr. Scarsi was chosen as a recipient of an Institute for Women's Health Research Pioneer Grant for the establishment of a long-term database of women in which she will be doing single-timed blood samples over the course of their pregnancy.  She hopes to pinpoint the changes that occur in the second and third trimesters so that physicians may adjust dosages accordingly.  Eventually the project may become a multicenter study in the US and internationally.

Useful Links and Resources:

Posted by on November 30, 2009 - 2:33pm

A recent article by the British news source, Mail Online, titled “Sorry darling, I can't do the vacuuming. It might damage my sperm count: The best excuse yet for men not to do the housework...” has generated media attention.  The premise is that household chores such as using a vacuum cleaner, microwave or refrigerator could reduce a man’s chances of having children.  The article explains that the high dose of electromagnetic fields produced by these household machines can drastically reduce the quality of sperm.  As implied by its title, author Nic Fleming concludes that we should think seriously about reducing men’s exposure to household chores involving electrical appliances.

The ‘facts’ of the story are a wildly embellished extrapolation from the research of Dr. De-Kun Li at Stanford University.  Dr. Li’s article, which will be published in January in Reproductive Toxicology provides evidence that exposure to high levels of magnetic fields is linked to a two-fold increase in the risk of poor sperm quality.  Sperm quality, for the purposes of Dr. Li's study, is defined by motility, morphology and concentration.  The study was performed on 148 men, 76 with low sperm quality and 72 with normal sperm (controls).  Study subjects wore electromagnetic field meters for a period of 24 hours to measure their exposure to magnetic fields with frequencies between 40-1000Hz.  The article does not mention specific machinery or household appliances and does not caution men against performing household tasks.  The authors do, however, reference other articles linking cell phone use to poor sperm quality.

So what about women?  If electromagnetic fields are capable of damaging male gametes, why wouldn’t they be damaging to female gametes?  In fact, a 2001 study published in Bioelectromagnetics indicated that low frequency magnetic fields have adverse effects on fertility in both male and female rats.  While other studies in both humans and other mammals have yielded inconclusive or conflicting results – it is important that we consider effects on fertility in both sexes.  If electromagnetic fields are in fact detrimental to our fertility, the implications for women are far greater than for men as men constantly replenish their sperm supply every 3 months.  Because women don’t create new gametes throughout their lifetime, any damage to female fertility presents a more permanent problem.  Perhaps it is women who should be exchanging the vacuum cleaner for a foot massage…

Posted by on November 9, 2009 - 6:20pm

DSC00578Recruitment for Oncofertility Saturday Academy (OSA) 2010 applicants officially began on Monday, November 9, 2009.  This is the fourth consecutive year of OSA and we are expecting a very competitive pool of applicants from Young Women’s Leadership Charter School.  OSA was initiated in 2007 by the Northwestern University and Young Women’s Leadership Charter School (YWLCS) of Chicago Science Partnership.  Since its inception, a total of 46 YWLCS high school girls have participated in the OSA.   Today, of the 46 students, two are college juniors, 15 are college sophomores, 14 are college freshman and 15 are 12th graders in high school.  Of the 31 who are in college, most are actively pursuing science-related majors. OSA Directors and Coordinators will be contacting and surveying all OSA Alums this year to gather information about their most current academic and careers pursuits.  Currently, OSA is also developing mechanisms and opportunities to provide long-term mentoring and support to the participants as they make the transition from high school to college and beyond.

OSA is hoping that the 31 OSA Alums will post comments on this blog to give reasons to the current YWLCS 11th and 12th grade students to apply to OSA.

  • What did you like most about OSA?
  • How did OSA help you make decisions about your academic or career path?
  • How did OSA impact your life?

OSA Alums this is an opportunity for you to give guidance to the next group of OSA participants.  Here are the names of the OSA Alums:

Chanel, Shardey, Nicole, Angelica, Ashley A. Antavia, Guadalupe, Christina, Jasmine F., Ashley M., Antavia, Natalia, Megan, Jasmine S., Yasmine, Deja, Alex, Samantha, Nikki, Mona, Grace, Chloe, Eboni, Abigail, Jathia, Kirsa, Iesha, Brittany, Shaquita, Jasmine W. and Jasmine P.

20090220_3004The Institute for Women’s Health Research created the Women’s Health Science Program for High School Girls and Beyond (WHSP).  The Oncofertility Saturday Academy (OSA) is one of the four academies offered by WHSP to inspire and prepare the next generation of women leaders in science and medicine. To promote and encourage the high school girls to take action and live healthier lives, health workshops, nutritious meals and fitness classes are integrated into every academy. To learn more about all four academies, please visit

Thank you Nikki Cooper and Grace Gallegos for posting comments to the blog.  Here are a couple photos of you in action during OSA!  Other OSA Alumni, if you make a comment, I will post your photo!


Nikki Cooper, OSA Alumni, Future General Surgeon

Grace Gallegos, OSA Alumni, Future Paramedic and Nurse

Grace Gallegos, OSA Alumni, Future Paramedic and Nurse

Megan (on far left) with her OSA sisters. Megan worked as an OSA Alumni Lab Fellow this past summer in Dr. Woodruff's lab.

Megan Romero (on far left) with her OSA sisters. Megan worked as an OSA Alumni Lab Fellow this past summer in Dr. Woodruff's lab.

Abigail Johnson isolated follicles in Dr. Woodruff's lab.

Abigail Johnson isolated follicles in Dr. Woodruff's lab.

Ashley McKinney is a sophomore at Hampton University. Ashley was an OSA Alumni Lab Fellow this summer in Dr. Woodruff's laboratory. SCIENCE RULES!

Ashley McKinney is a sophomore at Hampton University. Ashley was an OSA Alumni Lab Fellow this summer in Dr. Woodruff's laboratory. SCIENCE RULES!

Shardey is one of the most experienced OSA leaders. She is now a junior in college and majoring in forensic science.

Shardey is one of the most experienced OSA leaders. She is now a junior in college and majoring in forensic science.

Samantha Torres with the da Vinci surgical robot.

Samantha Torres with the da Vinci surgical robot.

Posted by on November 2, 2009 - 10:42am

Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine disease affecting approximately 7% of the US population.  Diabetes is categorized into two classes: Type 1, or insulin dependent diabetes, and Type 2, or adult onset diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone necessary for the metabolism of glucose.  Type 1 Diabetes is generally diagnosed in childhood or early adolescence and is considered to be primarily genetic in origin.  Symptoms include extreme hunger, fatigue, rapid weight loss and blurry vision.  There is no cure for Diabetes, but successful treatment includes insulin injections, blood sugar monitoring, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.

Type 2 Diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all Diabetes cases in the United States.  In Type 2 Diabetes, the body is either insulin resistant or the pancreas does not produce enough insulin.  This type is often preventable and is strongly linked to obesity.  Symptoms are similar to Type 1 Diabetes but, depending on the severity, treatment may only include blood sugar monitoring, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.  Severe or advanced cases may require medication and/or insulin injections.

Resources at Northwestern for Diabetes:

The Division of Endocrinology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for a variety of endocrine related disorders.  Physicians in the department specialize in endocrine tumors, endocrine disease genetics, gestational diabetes, and offer specialized services in diagnosis and treatment of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.  The department participates in a variety of NIH-sponsored research trials.  Results from NMH’s participation in the National Institute’s of Health 10-year study on prevention of type 2 diabetes can be found at

Click to see physician finder:

Northwestern Physicians/ Researchers specializing in Diabetes treatment:

The Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Molecular Medicine at Northwestern University features a diverse faculty, many of whom are leaders in their field.  The department, headed by Dr. Andrea Dunaif, is committed to clinical and basic science research development and training.  The research interests of the department are diverse and extend to multiple subfields of endocrinology.  Researchers studying diabetes include Dr. Franck Mauvais-Jarvis, who studies the role of estrogen receptors in pancreatic cells, Dr. M. Geoffrey Hayes, PhD, who studies the genetic components of diabetes, and Dr. Boyd E. Metzger, MD, whose research on gestational diabetes has been widely published.

IWHR Highlighted Researcher

Dr. Robert F Kushner, MD, MS is the Clinical Director of the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity and a Professor of Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine.  Dr. Kushner has published various books, book chapters, and articles and serves on the editorial board of various prestigious journals including Obesity, Obesity Management, and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.  Popular publications include Dr. Kushner’s Personality Type Diet, Treatment of the Obese Patient and Fitness Unleashed: A Dog and Owner’s Guide to Losing Weight and Gaining Health Together.  Although Dr. Kushner’s research interests are in obesity and nutrition, his research and publications have implications for a diabetic population.  Recently he published a study in Obesity examining various lifestyle interventions for prevention of weight gain in type II diabetic patients taking the common diabetes medication pioglitazone (Actos®).  The study showed that the weight gain side effects commonly associated with this medication can be diminished or alleviated by lifestyle interventions such as medical nutrition therapy (MNT).  The greatest success was seen in patients who received intensive follow up MNT, which included lessons in meal planning, food preparation, goal-setting and exercise recommendations.

For information on Dr. Kushner or to purchase his books:

Other Useful Links and Resources:

Posted by on October 29, 2009 - 2:35pm
Aryana, Kathryn, Jenaun, Estella and Geeleeyaw at the 2009 Illinois Women’s Health Conference.

Aryana, Kathryn, Jenaun, Estella and Geeleeyaw at the 2009 Illinois Women’s Health Conference.

On Wednesday, October 28, 2009, five high school senior girls, who are participants of the Women’s Health Science Program for High School Girls and Beyond (WHSP),, attended the 2009 Illinois Women’s Health Conference,, in Oak Brook, Illinois.  To be selected, the high school girls had to write essays to explain why they wanted to attend the conference.  All the girls shared very thoughtful and meaningful reasons for wanting to participate in this opportunity.  To highlight a few of the student responses, Jenaun shared that she wanted to attend because she is still undecided on her college major and career choice and thought that participating in the conference would broaden her knowledge of the healthcare career options. Geeleeyaw thought that this would be a good opportunity for her to meet new people and talk to clinicians about her interests in pursuing a career in the healthcare field.   Lastly, Aryana wanted to attend because she is passionate about women’s health and wants to play an active role in supporting and improving the health of women.

The high school girls gained valuable and useful experiences and knowledge at the conference.  Upon arrival the high school girls checked in and received their conference nametag, bag, and materials.  The high school girls attended multiple sessions, including:

  • Cardiovascular Disease in Disparate Populations: The Facts – and What We Should Do
  • Breast Cancer – Reconstruction After the Fact
  • Energy for Life: Strategies for Peak Performance and Whole Body Wellness
  • Nutrition and Women’s Health – Health Foods or Healthy Foods
  • The Practical Clinical Approach to Women’s Sexuality

Students were expected and encouraged to take notes and ask the presenters questions at each of the sessions.

At the end of the day, the girls completed the conference evaluation form and submitted it to the conference staff.  They all expressed that they greatly appreciated this opportunity because, as the only high school students in attendance, they were able to get firsthand experience interacting with real healthcare professionals.  With the two educators who coordinated the opportunity, Megan Faurot, Director of Education Programs at the Institute for Women’s Health Research, and Kathleen Grimes, Science Department Coordinator at Young Women’s Leadership Charter School, the girls discussed what colleges they were applying to and how they plan on pursuing their career goals.   Kathryn wants to pursue a career in animal science and Estella is planning on combining her love of cooking and science to become a dietitian or nutritionist.   WHSP will continue to support and encourage all of these girls as they make the transition from high school to college and beyond to become the next generation of women leaders in science and medicine.

Posted by on October 13, 2009 - 9:06am

You may have noticed the NFL players wearing their pink gloves and shoes for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  But did you know that breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in American women?  It is caused by abnormal cell growth in the breast tissue, usually beginning in the milk-producing ducts.  The abnormal growth may spread (metastasize) through your breast to your lymph nodes, or other parts of your body.
Picture 3The most common symptom of breast cancer in both men and women is a lump in the breast, which is usually painless.  Most breast lumps are non-cancerous, but it is still important to have any lumps evaluated by a physician.  Other symptoms of breast cancer include clear or bloody discharge from the nipple, change in breast size or shape, retraction or indentation of the nipple and skin around the breast. Treatment for breast cancer often involves surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.  A variety of surgical techniques are available depending on the size of the lump or tumor.

The good news is there are many resources for breast cancer treatment and research at Northwestern!

The Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation in partnership with Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Robert H Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center has established the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Program to provide women with access to the latest advances and technology in breast cancer treatment.  The center offers clinical, diagnostic, rehabilitation and counseling services at a single location.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital also offers breast reconstruction surgery for patients who have undergone lumpectomy or mastectomy or who have other cancer-related deformities.  Dr. Neil Fine, a plastic surgeon at NMH has developed an innovative technique as an alternative to total mastectomy.  The technique involves repositioning portions of the latissimus dorsi into the breast where a tumor has been removed.  Only a handful of other hospitals across the country are offering this procedure.

IWHR Highlighted Researcher
Dr. Seema A. Khan M.D., is the Bluhm Family Professor of Cancer Research at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.  She is also the Director of the Bluhm Family Breast Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program at Feinberg.  She received her medical degree from Dow Medical College in Pakistan and a Master’s in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.  Dr. Khan is a board-certified surgeon whose research interests involve prevention, early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Currently she has multiple active clinical trials including a study designed to identify biomarkers for breast cancer risk in benign breast tissue.  Similarly, she is investigating the level of estrogen in nipple fluid as a marker for breast cancer risk.  Other recent studies include the development of a topical treatment for non-invasive breast cancer and the multi-center evaluation of a preventive breast cancer therapy for post-menopausal women taking Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Other Useful Links and Resources:

Posted by on September 23, 2009 - 11:18am

Dr. Cynthia R. LaBella, MD

Dr. Cynthia R.  LaBella, MD, kicked-off the second year of the Women’s Health Research Monthly Forum, on September 22, 2009, by presenting her research on knee injuries in female adolescent athletes to an audience of over 150 professionals from the Northwestern community.  Dr. Labella is the Medical Director of the Institute for Sports Medicine at Children’s Memorial Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

The basis for Dr. LaBella’s research is that adolescent females are the fastest growing population participating in sports, but in turn are more frequently injured compared to boys and pre-pubescent girls.  The most common sites of injury for adolescent girls are the knee and ankle.  In particular, girls are 4 to 6 times more likely than boys to tear the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Hormonal, anatomic, and neuromuscular control differences exist between boys and girls. These differences, have been studied, to determine why girls are at a greater risk of ACL injuries.  Hormonally, estrogen increases ligament laxity, yet this data has not been correlated with an increased risk of ACL injury.  Anatomically, females have a wider pelvis, smaller femur notch sizes, more knocked knees (genu valgum) and more inward twisting of the thigh bones (femoral anteversion), but, like the hormone data, this also has not been correlated with an increased risk of ACL injuries.

Dr. LaBella’s research focuses on the development and evaluation of neuromuscular training tasks to prevent knee injuries in adolescent girls.  Neuromuscular control is defined as muscle strength, nerve and muscle firing patterns, and the mechanics of landing and pivoting.  The neuromuscular sex differences associated with the knee appear at puberty when males begin producing increased amounts of testosterone; prior to puberty neuromuscular differences are not observed.  Research indicates that quadricep dominance, leg dominance, and ligament dominance are the significant differences between males and females that lead to a greater risk of ACL injuries in girls.

Dr. LaBella and her team of researchers at  Children’s Memorial Hospital developed and published a neuromuscular training program that included the elements of high-intensityprogressive plyometrics, proper technique feedback to athletes, and strength training.  This training program was implemented in 46 Chicago urban public high schools to study knee injuries considering the variables of race, coach compliance and injury rates. It was concluded that coaches can be trained to integrate the neuromuscular exercises into their practices.  In addition, these exercises can reduce lower extremity injuries in female soccer and basketball athletes.  This is a significant finding especially for populations who have limited access to medical care.

faurot-150wNow that Dr. LaBella has uncovered that neuromuscular exercises can prevent knee injuries, the challenge is to disseminate her findings to more high school coaches so the information can positively impact the ever-growing population of adolescent female athletes.  Dr. LaBella shared that approaching high school coaches with the notion that they will enhance the athletic performance of their athletes rather than stressing the prevention of  injuries is more convincing, and leads to better coach compliance with.respect to conducting the  neuromuscular exercises with their female athletes.  A non-ACL injured, healthy female athlete can spend more time on the field/court practicing their skills that will only contribute to a more successful team and season.

For more information about Dr. Cynthia LaBella and the Institute for Sports Medicine, please visit,

Posted by on August 31, 2009 - 8:57am

Research has shown that portion control may be the most  effective form of dieting when you take into account longevity and sustained weight loss and management.  The reason, according to Dr. Everett Logue et al. in Obesity ( may be that portion control is an easier behavioral target than planned exercise.  Although increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables may be the easiest way to change behaviorally, it does not appear to be as effective in long term weight reduction.

Okay, so all I have to do is eat a little less, and move a little more.  Well, it’s not that simple.  If you’ve tried portion control in the past like I have, you might be rolling your eyes.  Actually, 36% of women in the Illinois Women’s Health Registry are currently using portion control to lose weight, while only 20% are trying exercise.   So how can we make portion control work for us?  The important thing to understand is that portion sizes are often FAR LESS than we think they are.  In fact, research has shown that Americans typically underestimate their caloric intake by as much as 25%.  So if I think I’m only eating 1600 Calories (a typical weight loss goal), I might actually be eating 2,000.  It’s also important to know that women and men of similar height and weight do NOT have the same caloric needs.   Metabolism in women works differently; men generally have a higher Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the rate at which our bodies break down calories.  In other words, we don’t need to eat as much as our male counterparts…sorry ladies, but try leaving that second helping to him.

So what is the correct portion size?  Well we are probably all familiar with the serving size values:

1 cup green and leafy vegetables or ½ cup mashed potatoes for the veggies
½ - 1 cup of fruit or 1 oz dried fruit
½ cup rice, 1 cup (cooked) pasta, or a bagel for the grains
3 oz chicken, beef or fish for protein
1 cookie or a ½ cup ice cream for the sweets

But what do these sizes actually look like?  Well, sadly, a lot less than we’d like to think.  Here’s the run down:

Portions Table

For more portion size tips, see this cool tool at

Even though portion control can be an effective weight loss method, it is still important to keep an active lifestyle and exercise regularly for a healthy weight AND a healthy heart!  Happy and Mindful Eating!

Posted by on August 10, 2009 - 3:03pm

Currently 4% of women enrolled in the Illinois Womens Health Registry suffer from this skin condition that causes itchy or sore red patches of skin with silvery scales.

Psoriasis occurs when the normal life cycle of skin cells is accelerated by the immune system, causing buildup of dead skin cells, which form the thick, silvery scale-like appearance.  There are several types of psoriasis, the most common of which include Plaque Psoriasis, causing the red, scaly lesions; Scalp Psoriasis; Nail Psoriasis, causing abnormal nail growth; and Psoriatic Arthritis, causing stiffness and progressive joint damage.  For many people, psoriasis is just a nuisance, however patients usually seek medical advice if their psoriasis causes discomfort and pain, interferes with daily tasks, or causes concern about the appearance of skin.  There is no cure for psoriasis, but many treatments exist to interrupt the overproduction of skin cells and to provide significant relief.

Resources at Northwestern for Psoriasis:

Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Department of Dermatology offers state-of-the-art treatment options for dermatology conditions such as psoriasis.  The department also provides cosmetic treatments to patients with various dermatological symptoms.  Treatment options include laser surgery, microdermabrasion, camouflage makeup, skin peels and phototherapy (PUVA).

The Department of Dermatology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine runs a Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Clinic on Tuesday mornings.  The clinic is headed by Prashant Singri, MD from dermatology and by Eric Ruderman, MD from Rheumatology.  The clinic is ideal for patients with both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact the clinic at 312-695-8106.

Northwestern Physicians/Researchers Specializing in Psoriasis Treatment:
The Department of Dermatology at Feinberg School of Medicine has active areas of laboratory and clinical outcomes research.  Nearly all of the clinical faculty in the department serve as principle investigators in clinical trials.  Dr. Amy Paller, Chair of the Northwestern Department of Dermatology and Professor of Pediatrics conducts laboratory research related to Psoriasis and other hyper-proliferative skin disorders.  Also conducting research involving psoriasis is Dr. Prashant Singri, head of the Psoriasis clinic.

IWHR Highlighted Researcher
Dr. Anne Laumann, MBChB, MRCP (UK), FAAD is an Associate Professor of Dermatology in the Feinberg School of Medicine.  She is an active member of many dermatology organizations including the American Academy of Dermatology, the Society of Investigative Dermatology, the Scleroderma Foundation, the Vitiligo Foundation, and the Psoriasis Foundation.  Dr. Laumann is the principal investigator on a number of clinical trials related to Raynaud’s phenomenon, psoriasis, and itching. Currently she is conducting clinical trials to evaluate the use of different medications for the treatment of active secondary Raynaud’s disease. She is the local principal investigator in a study studying the outcome and safety of the use of infliximab and golimumab in patients with chronic moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.  This study is a multicenter, prospective, 8-year surveillance study involving patients on biologics.

Useful Links and Resources: