NW Women's Health & Sex/Gender Differences Research Conference

Wednesday, May 8, 2024, at OHSU Auditorium (Old Library)

Conference registration is now open! This event is free. Although not required to attend, we encourage registering for the event to help ensure you receive timely conference updates.

The Oregon BIRCWH Program, OHSU Center for Women's Health, and the OHSU Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology are proud to announce the 2024 Northwest Women's Health and Sex/Gender Differences Research Conference at Oregon Health & Science University.

This year's theme is:  The power of collaborative research in women’s health and sex/gender differences. 

This full-day in-person conference is designed to ignite cross-institution, multidisciplinary research partnerships and collaborations within the Portland area and the greater state of Oregon. Previous conferences have been incredibly successful in developing new partnerships that have progressed to grant proposals, funding, and research. The conference takes place during OHSU Research Week to both highlight the BIRCWH and WRHR programs and their roles within the OHSU community, but also to give greater visibility to women’s health and sex/gender differences research on the OHSU campus.

Dr. Susan Reed

We are thrilled to have Susan D. Reed, MD, MPH, MS, joining us as keynote speaker. Dr. Reed is is Professor Emeritus and past Vice Chair for Research in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, with an adjunct appointment in Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She is immediate past president of The Menopause Society. Her undergraduate and medical degrees are from Stanford, and her master’s degrees are from Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Washington. She did her obstetrics and gynecology residency training at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Reed’s research focuses on women’s health issues related to reproductive hormones and she is internationally known for her expertise in menopause. She is the past Research Director for the National Institutes of Health funded Women’s Reproductive Health Research program at the University of Washington and a principal investigator for the NIH funded network, MsFLASH, performing clinical trials on the treatment of menopausal symptoms. She has over 170 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Reed was the Division Chief at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle from 2008-2018 and has over 40 years of clinical experience.

Keynote:  Advancing Women’s Health Through Menopause Research
Dr. Reed will review why menopause research matters and describe current NIH funding for women’s health research. She will discuss key findings from prior NIH funded menopausal studies and present ideas about future directions for women’s health research that links the premenopausal and perimenopausal experience to healthy aging. 

2024 Agenda

7:45 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. | Registration & breakfast

8:30 a.m. – 8:35 a.m. | Welcome & opening remarks

8:35 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. | Keynote:  Advancing Women’s Health Through Menopause Research

Susan D. Reed, M.D., MPH, M.S.
Professor Emerita and past Vice Chair for Research, Obstetrics and Gynocology, University of Washington School of Medicine
Past President, The Menopause Society

9:30 a.m. – 10:05 a.m. | Presentations from WRHR Scholars

10:05 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. | Break & poster viewing   

10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. | Presentations from BIRCWH Scholars & selected abstracts

12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. | Lunch, Poster Session, and Networking 

1:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. | Presentations from early phase investigators: OHSU Dept of OB/GYN

3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. | Presentations from established & emerging research collaborations; Panel discussion

4:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. | Raffle & closing remarks

4:45 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. | Cocktail social hour & poster viewing

9:35 a.m. – 9:50 a.m. | Humans, animal models, and single cells: an integrative approach to studying testosterone and reproductive biology
This research seeks to explore the effects of testosterone based gender-affirming hormone therapy on reproductive health and IVF outcomes in transgender individuals. By evaluating data from clinical studies and developing in vitro and in vivo animal models for ovarian follicular development, IVF and early embryogenesis, we aim to better understand, optimize fertility outcomes within this context.

Elizabeth Rubin, MD
WRHR Scholar, Assistant Professor
OHSU Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine

9:50 a.m. – 10:05 a.m. | Unpacking the impact of steroid hormones on benign breast tissue: a protocol to study androgenic progestins
This study seeks to characterize the impact of levonorgestrel from the hormonal intrauterine device (IUDs) on breast tissue by comparing it to breast tissue from people using exogenous androgens and people using no exogenous hormones.  To accomplish this, we are developing a protocol for the collection and analysis of benign breast biopsies.

Abigail Liberty, MD
WRHR Scholar, Assistant Professor
OHSU Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. | Women Report More Subtle Symptoms, Use More Healthcare Prior to a New Diagnosis of Heart Failure
This convergent mixed-methods design [Quan + qual] research study aims to understand barriers to timely HF diagnosis in women – such as symptom recognition and healthcare use – to accelerate appropriate treatment. Interim analysis of Sex & Gender Differences in Symptoms and Antecedent Healthcare Utilization in Newly Diagnosed Heart Failure (SAGEST-HF) suggests that despite similar clinical characteristics, women may use significantly more healthcare and report significantly more early and subtle symptoms of HF in the year leading up to a diagnosis of HF. Moreover, descriptions of symptoms and healthcare use indicate that patients seek healthcare for distressing symptoms but that diagnosis of HF often feels like a surprise.

Mary Roberts Davis, PhD, RN
BIRCWH Scholar, Assistant Professor
OHSU School of Nursing

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. | A Diverse and Unique Sample of Middle to Older Age Latina Survivors of Cervical Cancer: Their Journey, Social Support, and Healthcare Experiences
This study aims to understand the personal lived expertise of Spanish and English speaking and immigrant and nonimmigrant Latinas with cervical cancer over 45 years old to identify common and divergent experiences in their journey, social support, and health care experiences. Our team developed a catalyst film and a visual infographic to support dissemination efforts to support timely cervical cancer screenings are critical for middle to older age Latinas.

Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman, PhD, MCR
BIRCWH Scholar, Assistant Professor
OHSU Family Medicine, School of Medicine

11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. | Investigating sex differences in immunotherapy treatment effects: the INSITE study
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) exhibit impressive clinical response rates for a subset of patients with cancer. However, they can induce side effects known as immune-related adverse events (irAEs) that can affect any organ system and be life-threatening.  This study aims to characterize sex differences in patient-reported symptomatic irAEs.

Deanne Tibbitts, PhD, MCR
BIRCWH Scholar, Research Assistant Professor
OHSU Division of Oncological Sciences, School of Medicine

11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. | Comparison of changes in PA-1, tPA and TFPI in venous and menstrual blood in individuals with or without heavy menstrual bleeding
Uterine hemostasis during the menstrual cycle is a unique process as the endometrium must transition from a highly fibrinolytic to a pro-hemostatic environment over the course of 2-7 days of bleeding. While the mechanisms regulating this are poorly understood, cyclic variations in pro- and anti-coagulant factors have been demonstrated in endometrial fluid over the course of a menstrual cycle. Expression of these coagulation factors may differ in those with heavy menstrual bleeding. This research seeks to describe local and systemic changes in coagulation factors during menses in individuals with or without heavy menstrual bleeding.

Bethany Samuelson Bannow, MD, MCR
BIRCWH Scholar, Associate Professor
OHSU Division of Hematology/Medical Oncology, School of Medicine

11:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. | Placental programming of infant behavioral health: Placental interleukin-6 is associated with infant negative affect at 6-months
Negative affect (NA), the propensity to experience negative emotions, emerges during early infancy and is an indicator of vulnerability for developmental psychopathology. Programming of risk for NA has been associated with fetal exposure to maternal peripheral inflammatory factors. Our finding that placental IL-6 is associated with infant NA suggests that the placenta plays a role in prenatal programming of risk for NA.

Elizabeth Wood, PhD
BIRCWH Scholar, Postdoctoral Trainee
OHSU Department of Psychology
School of Medicine

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | Programming Asthmatic Traits: Maternal High-Fat Diet Induces Offspring Airway Hyperinnervation and Hyperresponsiveness
Children born to obese mothers have increased risk of obesity and asthma, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Relying solely on data from a single strain mouse model may overlook the influence of diverse genetic backgrounds. To address this, we used a diverse outbred (DO) mouse model to study how maternal high-fat diet affects offspring metabolic health and airway hyperresponsiveness, a key characteristic of asthma.

Kayla Williams, BS
OHSU Pulmonary and Critical Care Research

12:00 p.m. - 12:15 p.m. | Status of the Legislative Climate as it Pertains to Abortion. A state-by-state review addressing the status and directionality of abortion related legislation in the 2023 legislative session
To understand the changing abortion climate across the country and within each state, a comprehensive review of abortion related legislation introduced in the 2023 legislative session was conducted. Results suggest that the directionality of introduced bills is not always aligned with the ideology of the political majority in that state and evidence of an ongoing and rapidly changing abortion legislation climate that is relevant to healthcare providers and consumers.

Ruby Aaron, MS
OHSU School of Medicine

Identifying a maternal morbidity cohort from electronic health records
Ayo Babatunde

Global analysis of iron deficiency using a ferritin cut-off of 50, 1992-2019
Emma Deloughery, MD

Oregon Bio Women (OBW) Mentorship Program
Laura Erker, PhD & Ally Wimberley, PhD

A modern model for assessing parent and infant biophysical stress response in the NICU
Emily Garavatti, MD

Recovered Acute Kidney Injury Results In Later Renal and Cardiovascular Dysfunction In Pregnancy
Jessica Hebert, PhD

Neuro-Derived Thai Zika Virus Elicits Altered Placental Immune Response With Low Signs Of Infarction In Rhesus Macaques
Hannah Jaeger, BS; Jessica L. Smith; Christopher J. Parkins; Nicole N. Haese; Craig N. Kreklywich; Matthias C. Schabel; Terry K. Morgan; Jaime O. Lo; Alec J. Hirsch; Victoria H.J. Roberts; Daniel N. Streblow

Circulating Fetal Troponin I May Reflect Cardiomyocyte Proliferation
Sonnet Jonker, PhD & Samantha Louey, PhD

The effects of in utero exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on cardiovascular tissues in rhesus macaques
Hillary Le, PhD; Lyndsey E. Shorey-Kendrick; Monica T. Hinds; Owen J. T. McCarty; Jamie O. Lo; Deirdre E. J. Anderson

Drawing on Arts-Based Methods to Elicit Transgender and Gender Diverse Children’s Experiences in Health Care
Eline Lenne, BA, MOT

Effects of Diet Changes and Maternal Metformin Consumption during Pregnancy on both Maternal and Offspring Insulin Resistance
Anna Maior-Leichtfried, BS; Hannah Blomenkamp; Tyler Dean; Melissa Kirigiti; Kristin Sauter; and Paul Kievit, PhD

The Impact of Removing Abortion Access to Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease: a cost-effectiveness analysis
Sydney McCarthy, BS; Olivia Curl, MD, MPH; Sarah Dzubay; Uma Doshi, BS; Aaron B. Caughey, MD, PhD

Geographic Access to Urogynecology Care in the United States
Eleanor M. Schmidt, MD & Lucy Ward, MS

Childhood Trauma and Pregnancy: Analyzing Their Joint Influence on Executive Function
Deborah Sevigny-Resetco, BA

Sex Differences in Inflammation and Brain Function in Methamphetamine Use Disorder
Alea Sonnon, BA & Kristen Mackiewicz-Seghete, PhD

Postpartum hemorrhage device preferences among midwifery and physician trainees
Oluwadamilola Sosanya, BS; Lucy Ward, MS; Morinne Osborne, BS; Anna Rozzi, BA; Irina R. Cassimatis, MD, MSc 

Obstetric outcomes by hospital volume of operative vaginal delivery
Annika S. Willy, BS; Alyssa R. Hersh, MD, MPH; Bharti Garg, MBBS, MPH; Aaron B. Caughey, MD, PhD

OHSU Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine

“The Impact of Melatonin-Enriched Media on Epigenetic and Perinatal Changes Induced by Embryo Culture”
We sought to determine whether the addition of melatonin to culture media could offset epigenetic and phenotypic changes to placentas and offspring induced by embryo culture. Supplementation of melatonin to embryo culture media did not exacerbate, and may improve, epigenetic changes induced by embryo culture in fetal placentas. This research also had the novel finding that embryo culture can induce hypomethylation at an imprinting control region in the fetal heart. 

Molly Siegel Kornfield, MD

"Non-Classical Maternal Serum Soluble HLA-G, E and F level. Novel First Trimester Markers for Preeclampsia?"
Overview of the immunology of Pregnancy and Preeclampsia. We will present our prior relevant results and the most recent updates in the field.

Rinat Hackmon, MD ObGyn, MFM

"The impact of parental delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol exposure on early pregnancy"
Cannabis is the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the United States, especially among individuals of reproductive age. However, the impact of cannabis use on reproductive health is not well-studied. We seek to characterize the changes in oocytes and the early embryo following preconception exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main component of cannabis.

Rahul D'Mello, MD, PhD

"Shifting the Pain Perspective: A Feasibility Study of Psilocybin for Chronic Pelvic Pain in Women”
Summary of proposed feasibility study evaluating psilocybin for chronic pelvic pain in women.

Lynne Shinto, ND, MPH & Jacquelyn Knapp, MD

“Extracellular Heat Shock Protein 10 (HSP10): Is it a better marker than human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)?”
Heat Shock Protein 10 (Hsp10) is a molecular chaperone protein detected 24-hours post-fertilization with a faster rate of decline than serum hCG with the loss or end of a pregnancy. In this talk, we will discuss using Hsp10 as an alternative marker for determining pregnancy resolution. Our study compares the concentration curves of Hsp10 and hCG among pregnant individuals undergoing medication abortion.

Rachel Shin, MD, MPH

Julia Tasset, MD

Jackie Wong, MD, MSCR, FACOG

Established Collaborations

Ov Slayden, PhD
Division of Developmental and Reproductive Sciences at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, OHSU
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, OHSU

Oleh Taratula, PhD
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Oregon State University

Olena Taratula, PhD
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Oregon State University

Les Myatt, PhD, FRCOG
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, OHSU
Director of Moore Institute and Center for Developmental Health

Maureen Baldwin, MD, MPH
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, OHSU

Emerging Collaborations

“Collaborative Assessment of Institutional Supports for Pregnant and Parenting Trainees”
Our interdisciplinary team of faculty and students conducted a mixed-methods assessment of the experiences and unmet needs of pregnant and parenting trainees at OHSU. Our collaboration enabled us to contribute different perspectives to the study design and analysis, view the experiences of pregnant and parenting trainees through multiple lenses, and better understand how to support pregnant and parenting trainees in academic medical settings.

Eline Lenne, MOT, PhD Candidate1, 2, Emily Carter, MD, MPH2, Gillian Lashen, Psy D.2, Stephanie Dukhovny, MD2, Alinda Reimer, MSc, PhD Candidate3, Susanne Klawetter, PhD, LCSW4, and Marie Soller, MD2
1 Portland State University, 2 OHSU, 3 University of Cologne, 4 University of Colorado

Our interdisciplinary team consists of perinatal care providers (OBGYNs and CNMs), mental health providers (Psychologists, LMFTs, and LCSWs), health equity scientists (PhD-prepared maternal health equity scholars), community leaders (e.g., Black, Indigenous, and rural residing), and community partnerships (e.g., Healthy Birth Initiative, Astoria Birth Center). Together, and supported by NIMH and foundation funding, we have developed, refined and piloted a perinatal mental health preventative intervention: Center M.  The Center M solution is derived from a clinically proven prevention focused intervention: Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Pregnancy (MBCT-PD).

Ellen L. Tilden PhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN
Associate Professor, School of Nursing
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine

"Menstrual perceptions, information sources and management strategies: a U.S.-Based Survey Study"
We are a 3 person team spanning widely different health professions who work together to study and better understand education, stigma and impact of menstruation on health and social interactions. We conducted an extensive, national survey of menstruating individuals asking questions about perceptions of normality around menstruation, information sources and management strategies around menstruation and menstruation-related health concerns.

Bethany Samuelson Bannow, MD, MCR
OHSU Hemostasis & Thrombosis Center

Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman, PhD MCR
OHSU Department of Family Medicine

Marybec Griffin, PhD
New York University
Sarah Lawrence College


"A Collaborative Study of Fitness Tests in Transgender Adolescents"
This talk will introduce a collaborative study examining the results of fitness tests, and associated parameters in a cohort of transgender adolescents and cisgender controls. There are four institutions including OHSU in the study. The talk will also mention interschool collaboration within OHSU.

Kathryn Ackerman, MD, MPH – Study PI, sports medicine physician and endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital

Kara Connelly, MD – Site PI, Oregon Health & Sciences University, pediatric endocrinologist, and director of the Doernbecher Gender Clinic at OHSU

Jeremi Carswell, MD – Site PI, Boston Children’s Hospital, pediatric endocrinologist, and director of the Gender Management Service at BCH

Natalie Nokoff, MD – Site PI, Colorado Children’s Hospital, pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Colorado, and director of the gender clinic at Colorado Children's Hospital.

Tandy Aye, MD – Site PI, Standford Medicine Children’s Health, professor of pediatric endocrinology at Stanford University, and director of the gender clinic at SCH.

Joanna Harper, PhD – Postdoctoral scholar OHSU, PhD in exercise physiology Loughborough University, expert in exercise performance in transgender athletes.

Kerri Winters, PhD - Professor of Oncological Sciences OHSU, Co-leader, Cancer Prevention and Control Program, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, School of Medicine

We are excited to be a part of OHSU Research Week this year. For updates, follow us on X! @OregonBIRCWH

View a recording of last year's 2023 conference