Building Research Connections

Spring 1999
Volume 9, Number 2

TABLE OF CONTENTS

UIC's Center of Excellence: A New Model for Women's Health
Historical Encyclopedia of Chicago Women Project
CRWG Seed Grant Recipients
CRWG Staff Changes
UIC's National Center of Excellence in Women's Health
Women's Health Issues: A Multidisciplinary Approach
Second Annual CIC Women in Science and Engineering Student Leadership Conference

UIC's Center of Excellence: A New Model for Women's Health

On September 30, 1998 UIC received the prestigious designation of Center of Excellence in Women's Health from the U.S. Public Health Service Office of Women's Health. UIC joins 17 other national Centers of Excellence at academic medical centers around the country. The Center for Research on Women and Gender coordinated the UIC proposal for this competition and provides the administrative home for the Center of Excellence. Unique to UIC's Center is the collaboration across the university's six health professional colleges, the close relationship with women's studies, and the long history of women's health activities at the university.

The mandate for the national centers is "to establish and evaluate a new model health care system that unites women's health research, medical training, clinical care, public health education, community outreach, and the promotion of women in academic medicine around a common mission--to improve the health status of diverse women across the life span." A primary component of this model is the creation of dynamic multidisciplinary linkages, crossing academic programs and professional schools, to enrich women's health research, enhance clinical care, and improve the skills and competencies of health care providers.

Historical Encyclopedia of Chicago Women Project

The Historical Encyclopedia of Chicago Women project is entering the final phase of writing and editing. In October, Rima Schultz and Adele Hast, editors of the encyclopedia, mailed the first section of the manuscript to Indiana University Press. This section, one-third of the entire book, consisted of 145 biographies. The editors hope to mail the remaining entries by fall of 1999 with the goal of publication in 2000. The book will contain 415 biographies and 100 illustrations of women who were active in Chicago between 1770 and 1990.

The Editorial Board of the Encyclopedia project decided on the name of the book in June: Chicago Women 1770-1990: A Biographical Dictionary. The Board selected this title to reflect accurately the contents of the book and to make it easy for librarians to catalogue the book without confusion. Chicago Women 1770-1990 will be an important contribution to women's history and to Chicago and urban history. It will be a reference tool that can be used by scholars at all levels and throughout the country.

The HECW project is eight years old and has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Spencer Foundation. The Chicago Area Women's History Conference formed the first home and incubator for the project. In 1993 the Editorial Board, led by Margaret Strobel at UIC, sought funding from NEH and the project migrated to the Center for Research on Women and Gender.

The book not only presents the lives of important Chicago women, but also represents the efforts of hundreds of researchers, writers, and archivists. Although the book is a scholarly publication, many of the entries were written by authors who are not trained academics. One of the goals of the project was to open the writing process to non-academics who were willing to conduct research and write an entry. Women and men across the country have written entries for Chicago Women, contributing to knowledge about women in Chicago and increasing awareness of how important women have been in the growth of the city.

For more information about the project or book, call 312-413-1942.

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CRWG Seed Grant Recipients

The Center for Research on Women and Gender just completed its second seed grant competition. Fourteen applications were received from departments in Liberal Arts and Sciences, Public Health, Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Nursing. All of the applications presented exciting research projects for consideration. The review committee selected four of the projects for funding and the researchers will be designated as CRWG Research Scholars. The dates for the next seed grant competition will be announced in Spring, 1999.

Eva D. Smith, Ph.D., Medical-Surgical Nursing
Early Breast Cancer Detection: Middle SEL Black Women

Lin Tao, Ph.D., Dentistry
Bacterial vaginosis: viral infection of lactobacilli

Peggy McCracken, Ph.D., Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese
The Poetics of Sacrifice in Medieval French Romance

Eileen Martin, Ph.D., Psychiatry
Neurobehavioral function in HIV-seropositive women

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CRWG Staff Changes

Stacy A. Wenzel, Ph.D., research associate, now works at the Consortium of Chicago School Research as Director of Fieldwork on the Annenberg Research Project at the University of Chicago. Janise Hurtig, Ph.D., post-doctoral research associate, will conduct outreach activities to UIC faculty on the east campus, work on the Center's evaluation program, and assume editorship of BRC. Sarah Shirk, visiting project coordinator, will work on developing the next stage of the Research Information Network project. Mary Kleinman, visiting project coordinator, is project director for Women's Health Issues: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Erika Allen, graduate student in the UIC art therapy program, is one of the research assistants working for the Center.

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UIC's National Center of Excellence in Women's Health

Our program is designed to integrate biomedical expertise with the grass roots women's health vision, and emphasizes partnership: across disciplines and professions, academic with community, and health care provider with patient. Gender-based biology is a key component of a women's health model; it has become clear that women's health cannot be based on extrapolations from studies of men. Recent research has shown different neural mechanisms for pain relief in men and women, for example, or that women's risk factors for heart disease are not identical with those of men. Attention to gender in social context is also necessary because gender has so many consequences that are not biologically based, including social expectations and access to resources. Women seek health care services more frequently, and they are more likely than men to make family health decisions. Routes of access to health care are also different for men and women: for example, women substance users are less likely to gain access to treatment through their employment or through the courts, as men do, and more likely to be referred through health care providers they see for their children, or for other reasons. Understanding health needs that may differ across groups will also lead to more effective interventions, and we have a strong commitment to addressing the needs of underserved groups of women. We know that race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, or (dis)ability, all can have an impact on health and well-being. Our model recognizes many dimensions of women's health, from "killer" diseases to chronic conditions more prevalent in women, to health behaviors, environmental/occupational health, mental health, and women's health policy. From the myriad of possible topics we have identified three initial areas for focus across research, clinical, education, and community aspects of the UIC Center of Excellence: cancer, osteoporosis, and obesity. We have convened multidisciplinary research roundtables in these focus areas, and we are building collaborative networks to offer screening and referral, clinical services, educational programs, and opportunities to participate in research or clinical trials. Additional topics will be selected each year for development. We have established an Urban Women's Health Partnership, and we welcome participation from groups who would like to work with us to improve the health of women in Chicago and other communities. Many more exciting plans are in the works. For further information, call the Center for Research on Women and Gender, or visit our webpage!

The UIC team includes representatives from across campus: Director: Alice J. Dan, PhD, Professor in the College of Nursing and CRWG Director. Clinical Services Director: Richard Derman, MD, Director of Ambulatory Services in Obstetrics and Gynecology and of the UIC Women's Care Center. Curriculum Director: Rosalie Sagraves, PharmD, Dean of the College of Pharmacy. Research Director: Jacqueline Walcott-McQuigg, PhD, Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing. Co-Research Director: Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, Head of Nutrition and Medical Dietetics in the College of Health and Human Development Sciences. Deputy Director: Mary Lynn Dietsche, MA, Center for Research on Women and Gender. Research Core Co-chairs: William Beck, PhD, Director Cancer Center and Joan Shaver, PhD, Dean of the College of Nursing. Clinical Services Core Co-chairs: Laura Miller, MD, Director for Women's Services in Psychiatry and Karla Nacion, PhD, Director of Nurse-Midwifery. Professional Education and Development Core Co-chairs: Elizabeth Burns, MD, Head of Family Medicine and Suzanne Poirier, PhD, Department of Medical Education. Community Partnership Core Co-chairs: Beverly McElmurry, EdD, Associate Dean for International Programs in the College of Nursing, and Carole Warshaw, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Cook County Hospital. Evaluation Co-Chairs: Suzanne Feetham, PhD, Harriet Werley Distinguished Research Professor in the College of Nursing and Carol J. Simon, PhD, Institute of Government and Public Affairs and the School of Public Health. Informatics Co-Chairs: Sharon Hogan, MALS, University Librarian, and Donald Mon, PhD, Biomedical Information Sciences. External Advisory Committee Co-Chairs: M. Joan Stukel, Office of the President, and Cardiss Collins, Senior Fellow at the Great Cities Institute

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Women's Health Issues: A Multidisciplinary Approach

Women's Health Issues: A Multidisciplinary Approach (WHIMA) is a continuing medical education program designed to educate physicians in Illinois about common and timely women's health issues covering the life span, in diverse populations, and from biomedical and psychosocial perspectives. In collaboration with the departments of Family Medicine and Medical Education in the UIC College of Medicine, the Center for Research on Women and Gender has developed WHIMA as part of UIC's Center of Excellence in Women s Health. The Center has received a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Office of Women s Health, that will support the programs to be held this spring.

One-day sessions will be held at the Hyatt at University Village, April 16, May 7, and June 4, 1999 from 1:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and will include dinner. The specific topics to be addressed have been identified by a needs assessment conducted among primary care physicians.

Breast Cancer (April 16)
Genetics in breast cancer screening and treatment
Chemoprevention, including tamoxifen and raloxifene
Behavioral and social factors that affect health outcomes

Domestic Violence (May 7)
The legal responsibilities of physicians under Illinois law
Treatment of rape survivors
Medical record documentation

Heart Disease in Women (June 4)
Gender differences in anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry
Antioxidants and the prevention of heart disease
Is estrogen good or bad for the heart?

Few current continuing education programs address women's health issues from a multidisciplinary and life span context, or consider the same issues for diverse populations. WHIMA incorporates various aspects of health issues through the presentation of lectures and workshops by expert faculty from UIC's College of Medicine as well as from the colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Public Health, Nursing, and Pharmacy. The program addresses women's health in a way that embraces the diversity of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and disability.

The Center for Research on Women and Gender is collaborating with the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians to develop and disseminate information about WHIMA. Supporters include the Illinois sections of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Women's Association, the American College of Physicians/American Society for Internal Medicine and the Chicago Medical Society.

For registration and other information, contact Mary Kleinman at 312-413-1924. Continuing medical education credit will be available.

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Second Annual CIC Women in Science and Engineering Student Leadership Conference

A team of six UIC students attended the Second Annual CIC Women in Science and Engineering Student Leadership Conference at Michigan State University in November. The UIC student group included undergraduate and graduate women in fields ranging from mechanical engineering to psychology. One interesting footnote was that the UIC team included all the women mechanical engineering graduate students: two, a number that sums up the importance to students of this conference.

"I don't feel alone anymore", was a common statement heard in the buffet lines, during breaks, and especially on the drive home. The opportunity to meet and connect with fellow students from around the CIC was possibly the most important thing to the students. The two UIC mechanical engineering students were excited to find ME students from other campuses. These sentiments were also shared by students who felt that they were alone in not wanting to lead an academic life or who were constantly arguing with their advisors.

The UIC students pledged to assist in the continued success of the Association for Women in Science and Engineering Chicago, a new student organization at UIC. This pledge will fulfill the student's requirement to share the knowledge they gained at the conference with their home institution. As part of their requirement the students are planning a Women in Science and Engineering Forum on March 25, 1999, in the Cornucopia Room; the forum will be part of Women s Heritage Month activities.

Next year's student leadership conference is tentatively scheduled for Halloween weekend in Indianapolis; Indiana University/Purdue University will host the conference. For conference information or information about the Association for Women in Science and Engineering Chicago visit their website: http://www2.uic.edu/stud_orgs/prof/awise.