The Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) is very pleased to congratulate the recipients of the 2023 Graduate and Fellowship Research Award in Women’s Health. This competition was supported thanks to the dedicated funding provided by the BC Ministry of Health in partnership with the BC Women’s Health Foundation.
The WHRI launched this award in 2020 with a goal of creating a funding opportunity specific to our outstanding trainee community. This award provides salary support to WHRI-affiliated graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are engaged in women’s and/or newborn health research under the mentorship of a WHRI member.
This year, the WHRI awarded two graduate-level awards and one postdoctoral fellowship-level award, valued at $21,000 each, for a one-year period.
Fellowship-level Award Recipient
Dr. Adriano Chaves-Filho, Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Medical Sciences, University of Victoria
Dr. Marie-Ève Tremblay, Professor, Division of Medical Sciences, University of Victoria
Microglial roles in remodelling of the extracellular matrix: outcomes on synaptic plasticity and emotional and cognitive behaviour along the estrous cycle in female mice.
Microglia, the brain’s immune cells, are critical for brain health across the lifespan. Microglia’s ability to reshape the brain extracellular matrix has been reported as a key mechanism for the brain plasticity and excitatory-inhibitory synaptic balance tightly linked to mood disorders.
The aim of this project is to determine the estrous cycle’s influences on microglial remodelling of the extracellular matrix and its role in modulating synaptic plasticity, the ability of synapses to reshape upon exposure to new stimuli, as well as emotional and cognitive behaviour during normal physiological conditions in adult female mice.
Studying these mechanisms is important to open future therapeutic perspectives for estrous-associated pathological conditions, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder and various neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disease conditions presenting marked sex differences.
Doctoral-level Award Recipient
Bronte Johnston, Graduate Student (PhD), UBC School of Population and Public Health and Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity
Dr. Patricia Janssen, Professor, UBC School of Population and Public Health
Dr. Kate Shannon, Professor, UBC Department of Medicine
Moving Towards Equitable and Accessible Contraception Care: Describing the Unmet Contraception Needs of Rural Vancouver Island Youth aged 15-29 through Community Research
The BC government now provides free contraceptives throughout the province. It is essential to know how this health policy change impact youths’ unmet contraception needs in order to understand the actions that need to be taken to improve contraception equity.
The purpose of this project is to investigate the unmet contraception needs of youth and understand intersecting social and structural factors that shape sexual health access through community research in rural and urban-rural areas of Vancouver Island. This project will outline youth unmet contraception needs to inform how safe and more equitable contraception care can be provided.
*An unmet contraception need is inaccessibility of required methods/care. E.g., youth require an intrauterine device, but no practitioner can perform the insertion; their contraception need is unmet.
Master's-level Award Recipient
Julliet Zama, Graduate Student (MSc), UBC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Dr. Hélène Côté, Professor, UBC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Impact of hepatitis C virus (HCV) clearance on markers of immune aging and inflammation among women living with and without human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) over time
Despite the availability of antiretroviral therapy and effective HIV viral suppression, people living with HIV experience signs of premature aging. Premature aging, a condition whereby people living with HIV tend to develop age-related conditions earlier in life compared to the general population, has been linked to inflammation and immune dysfunction. This project aims to understand the effect of HIV and HCV, which act as stressors on the immune system, on several markers of immune aging and inflammation in women living with and without HIV. Treatment for HCV is costly and access to it is not always equitable, determining its potential effect on aging markers will help inform the care of all women, including often marginalized and vulnerable women living with HIV.