Meet the summer students!

Meet some of the students working with Dr. Gina Ogilvie’s HPV programs this summer!

Hannah Caird

The goal of Hannah’s practicum is to generate new knowledge related to the sociodemographic characteristics of women in BC with cervical cancer in order to inform cancer prevention and control strategies and ensure an inclusive health system that benefits all women. She is working on cleaning, analyzing and reporting on data obtained from the BC Cancer Registry, BC Cancer Health Assessment Forms (HAF) and the Patient-Reported Information and Symptom Measurement (PRISM) forms. Hannah will link these data sources to compare sociodemographic characteristics of women with cervical cancer to characteristics of women from the general population of BC by working with Census program and Canadian Community Health Survey datasets. Additionally, she will be contributing to a manuscript discussing the results of this analysis. She has also been working on a report on cervical cancer incidence and trends across Canada, using publicly available Statistics Canada data, and creating documents for dissemination and knowledge translation.

Hannah’s favourite part of her practicum so far has been learning R using online modules, and applying these new skills toward data visualization.

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Amanda Monteiro

Amanda is completing her practicum at the Women’s Health Research Institute and BC Center for Disease Control. She has been involved in the data management and analysis of a STI self-care survey administered at two STI clinics in Vancouver. Her analysis will explore client preferences for STI self-testing and self-care, as well as the barriers to accessing safe and adequate sexual health resources. This work will help inform future additional care options for effective STI program improvement and delivery related to alternative options to BC residents. Amanda is also working with STRIVE-BC to develop and implement a survey for a pre-conference symposium at the STI & HIV World Congress in July 2019. This survey will determine the STI vaccine research priorities of symposium attendees, following in line with the World Health Organization’s roadmap outlining the various channels that should be explored before STI vaccine implementation to optimize uptake. Amanda’s favorite part of her practicum thus far has been the opportunity to connect with and learn from other women in the research community, to grow as a researcher herself, and work towards exploring and addressing barriers to care and overall sexual and reproductive health. Being in an environment that offers opportunities to learn about the varies aspects of public health research has allowed Amanda to be inspired and motivated in her own work, and by the many researchers leading the way in women’s health.



Aneisha Collins-Fairclough, PhD

Aneisha is working on a systematic review to determine the optimal timing of the second dose of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in a two dose schedule. Prophylactic HPV vaccines are very effective at preventing HPV infection and associated diseases. Improving HPV vaccination coverage is therefore a global priority. HPV vaccines were licensed for use on a three dose schedule, but three doses present affordability challenges, and unsatisfactory compliance with completion of vaccine regimen. Administering fewer doses at longer time intervals may be worthwhile if HPV vaccines remain effective when administered on such modified schedules. An accrual of empirical evidence showed that administering two doses of HPV vaccines at least five months apart provides adequate protection to children 9-14 years and led to widespread adoption of two dose schedules for this group. Recent studies of alternate or extended schedules indicate the possibility for further optimizing the spacing of the two doses. Aneisha will therefore conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the comparability in effectiveness when two HPV vaccine doses are administered 5-6 months apart versus longer intervals apart. This is a timely knowledge translation activity that should be informative for HPV vaccination program decision makers.

Aneisha has enjoyed the diversity of activities involved in executing this project, from leading the development of this systematic review protocol, to contributing to the execution of the review and managing the review process. She is grateful to Dr Ogilvie and her team, especially Dr Robine Donken, who provided guidance throughout the process.


Jessica Trawin

Jessica is currently working with the Global Control of HPV Related Diseases and Cancer team on the Advances in Screening and Prevention in Reproductive Cancers (ASPIRE) project. Her practicum work involves developing an evaluation strategy and drafting a protocol for ASPIRE-Mayuge – a pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial that will compare the effectiveness of two community-based cervical cancer screening models using self-collected HPV testing in rural Uganda. As a student in the MPH Global Health stream, Jessica is excited to have the opportunity to contribute to a project aimed at improving women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in a global health setting. Particularly, Jessica has enjoyed learning about implementation science and developing evaluation metrics to inform program scale-up at a national level by applying the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework.

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WHRI celebrates World Sexual Health Day

World Sexual Health Day is an awareness day managed by the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS), a global advocacy organization committed to promoting best practices in sexual health. It is celebrated annually on September 4th and attempts to break down social and cultural taboos associated with sexuality and to promote positive sexual health around the world.

We would like to invite you to participate in WHRI’s annual event to celebrate World Sexual Health Day taking place on Wednesday September 4th, 2019 from 12 – 1:30 in D308.

The focus this year will be on trainees, students, fellows, and other researchers in training to present their completed research, research in progress, or any planned research. Talks will be rapid-fire (approximately 5 minutes each).

Please submit your abstract and abstract title of no more than 300 words to whri_cwbc@cw.bc.ca  and include “World Sexual Health Day abstract” in the email subject line.

The deadline for abstracts is August 23, 2019.

Study spotlight: Maternal Microbiome LEGACY Project

In celebration of World Microbiome Day, The Maternal Microbiome LEGACY Project team is excited to share some study updates!

The goal of the Maternal Microbiome LEGACY Project, being led by Dr. Deborah Money, is to help clarify the link between the vaginal microbiome, mode of the delivery (vaginal or caesarean section delivery), and the development of the infant gut microbiome.

We are excited to announce that in May 2019 we launched our third study site at Surrey Memorial Hospital, being led by Dr. Kirsten Grabowska. Our three study sites, BC Women’s Hospital (Vancouver), the University Hospital of Northern BC (Prince George), and Surrey Memorial Hospital (Surrey), are helping establish a study population which is more representative of the diverse population of British Columbia.

Since its launch in March 2018, the Maternal Microbiome LEGACY Project has recruited over 400 participants, and we are continuing to recruit to reach our goal of 920 women over the course of the study! This is a longitudinal study of women with term deliveries, with women and their infants being followed for 3 months after delivery. To participate, women should be pregnant with a single or twin pregnancy, over 19 years of age, and be registered for hospital or home delivery at one of our three study sites.

We thank the women who have participated so far and expressed interest in our study, and all of the nursing and clinical staff who have facilitated with in-hospital sample collection!

For more information, visit the study website, or follow @MaternalLegacy on Facebook and Twitter.

If you would like to participate, or would like further information on participating, please fill out this survey.

For general study inquiries, please email the Study Manager, Zahra Pakzad at zahra.pakzad@cw.bc.ca

Digital Health Hub

We Want To Hear From YOU! 

We need your input to help shape the creation of a new digital health research and services hub. This hub will be focused on women’s and neonatal health and will aim to support clinicians, researchers, and decisions makers who are leveraging technologies in order to enhance research and health service delivery for these populations.

Please complete this survey which will help the strategic planning team to:

  1. Identify current gaps in digital health and what you would like to see in a Digital Health Hub resource
  2. Take stock of all women and neonatal digital health projects’ happening throughout the province.

BEGIN SURVEY

If you have any further questions please contact Ciana Maher, Research Program Manager, Digital Health, Women’s Health Research Institute
E-mail: ciana.maher@cw.bc.ca

Congratulations to the recipients of the Women’s Global Health Research Trainee Awards!

The awards were presented to Kalysha Closson, PhD candidate, School of Population & Public Health, UBC, and Amanda Rowlands, Master’s of Science candidate, Faculty of Health Sciences, SFU.

Kalysha Closson

What is the title of your project?

Unpacking measures of sexual relationship power inequities to advance sexual and reproductive health among young women and men growing up in Durban and Soweto, South Africa: A multi-method youth-engaged study

Who is your supervisor?

My Senior Supervisor is Dr. Gina Oglivie and I am being co-supervised by Dr. Angela Kaida and Dr. Jeannie Shoveller.

Brief overview of the project:

My PhD research will seek to examine the validity and reliability of a Sexual Relationship Power Scale with youth in two partner South African sites the maternal adolescent and child health research unit in Durban and the Perinatal HIV research Unit in Soweto. Validation and reliability tests will both consider the statistical properties of the scale using data from a youth-engaged observational cohort study that aims to better understand patterns of socio-behavioural and biological factors influencing HIV risk among young men and women in South Africa, as well as construct validity through qualitative focus groups unpacking the scale with youth in the aforementioned settings.

What impact do you hope your work will have on women’s health?

This research is in line with Canada’s mission in taking a feminist approach to global aid, and will be critical to ensuring we have appropriate measures to track progress towards international targets aimed at ending AIDS and eliminated gender based violence.

Amanda Rowlands

What is the title of your project?

Sleep, Stress, and Women’s Reproductive Maturation

Who is your supervisor?

Dr. Pablo Nepomnaschy

Brief overview of the project:

I am exploring how stress axis activity and sleep patterns interact with each other, and how they may impact women’s reproductive health outcomes. Specifically, I am interested in how these interactions may impact the timing, onset, and quality of reproductive maturation. 

What impact do you hope your work will have on women’s health?

These results will inform on developing appropriate interventions and coping strategies to target specific stressors during the adolescent transition, to optimize women’s health and well being throughout their reproductive lifespans.  

What would it take for the province of British Columbia to Eliminate Cervical Cancer?

There were an estimated 1550 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in Canada in 2017, with approximately 400 women dying from this preventable disease. Cervical cancer remains a public health threat to women at the prime of their lives. With access to highly effective HPV vaccines and screening technologies, we have reached a time when elimination of cervical cancer in Canada is entirely possible and within our reach.

For years, BC has been a leader in cervical cancer prevention through its’ successful, decades long organized screening program. BC had also championed HPV vaccine research and program implementation. The WHO has issued a call to countries around the world to eliminate cervical cancer.  Research leads in BC are heeding this call, and taking the opportunity to build upon our world class programming to become leaders in the path towards elimination of cervical cancer, and have developed an action plan to achieve this goal.

The BC initiative had a unique opportunity to host a panel at the Women Deliver conference, held in Vancouver earlier this month. The session, “What would it take for the province of British Columbia to Eliminate Cervical Cancer?”

This dynamic panel discussed the reasons why elimination of cervical cancer in Canada is an important issue that needs to be addressed and tools and strategies that could be enhanced and or undertaken to achieve this goal. With the extensive expertise and varied backgrounds of each of the panel members, this robust discussion offered unique perspectives and suggestions for action items the BC initiative can move forward with in the path towards elimination of cervical cancer.

“This is a preventable disease that women should not be dying from, and we have a moral obligation to actively pursue elimination of cervical cancer….the tools to do this are available to us!”

Vancouver welcomes Women Deliver 2019 conference

Over 8,000 people from 160+ countries congregated in the Vancouver Convention Centre on June 3-6, 2019 for Women Deliver. The environment was electrifying.

The theme of the 2019 Women Deliver conference was “Power”. We were asked repeatedly, “How will you use your power for change” as it pertains to gender equality, the rights of women and girls, and their empowerment.

Through countless concurrent sessions, plenary talks, power stage messages, and side events, Women Deliver used the conference to redefine power as something each of us has the ability to use to improve women and girls. We were urged to embrace the facts which clearly illustrate that gender equality has a multitude of positive outcomes for all of society.

There was a clear call for better investments, including political, programmatic, and financial, towards achieving gender equality.  The week saw a number of exciting announcements from the federal government.

Gender Equality and International Development Minister Maryam Monsef announced her government’s $300 million contribution to kickstart a new platform aimed at helping women’s organizations in Canada and internationally. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an increase budget to $1.4 Billion/annually for 10 years starting in 2023 to support women and girls around the world.

Approximately 20% of attendees were youth, and their energy was palpable. They shared ideas, visions, and strategies for how our world can achieve gender equality, and this was focused on speaking up, driving solutions, and creating change.

Though Women Deliver was a single moment in time, it is intended to mobilize action. Each of us were called to think critically about how we would use our power to instigate change.

View some of the infographic postcards distributed at Women Deliver.

$20M investment announced for research on HPV and cervical cancer

On June 4th, 2019, the Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) was proud to join BC Women’s Health Foundation, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre (BCWH), and representatives from the BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Elimination of Cervical Cancer Task Force, and the Gynecological Cancer Initiative, to welcome The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada’s Minister of Health.

BC Women’s Health Foundation funding announcement, June 4, 2019. Photo by Darryl Dyck

Minister Taylor announced that the Federal Government would be investing $10M in funding to advance the research happening nationally to work toward the elimination of cervical cancer.

Dr. Gina Ogilvie, Senior Advisor, Research at BCWH and Assistant Director at WHRI, is at the forefront of this work, as the lead investigator on multiple research projects in the areas of HPV screening, self-collection, and vaccination.

Dr. Ogilvie followed Minister Taylor to deliver a speech which highlighted her team’s determination to position Canada as a global leader in the work toward the elimination of cervical cancer.

Dr. Ogilvie also announced that BC Women’s Health Foundation would be matching the federal government’s investment, for a total of $20M in funding toward education, improvements to screening, vaccination, and self-collection.

Dorothy Shaw is the WHRI’s 2019 recipient of the Career Contributions to Women’s Health Award

She is internationally renowned for her advocacy of women’s reproductive rights and freedoms. And in the current era where we are seeing the realities of women’s rights to access reproductive health care taken away from them, our need for champions is even more imperative. By all accounts, Dr. Dorothy Shaw embodies the label of champion.

Dr. Shaw has a long list of accolades. Some highlights include: her being the inaugural chair of the FIGO Committee for Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights from 2000-2003; being the first woman President of FIGO; while president-elect of the society for obstetricians and gynaecologists of Canada in 1991, Dr. Shaw lobbied Senate to remove abortion from the Criminal code of Canada.

Dr. Shaw has been a spokesperson for the Partnership for Maternal Newborn Child Health and has a longstanding history of engagement in civil society advocacy related to policy in global Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Health. She was the inaugural chair of the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health from 2010-2014 and currently serves as Treasurer of what is now the Canadian Partnership for Women’s and Children’s Health. She is engaged in Canadian and global working groups on maternal and perinatal mortality.

In the last few years leading to her retirement, she was awarded the Christopher Tietze Humanitarianism Award by the National Abortion Federation as its highest distinction, honoring significant, life-time contributions in the field of abortion service delivery or policy.  Later that year, she also received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.  In 2015, she was the recipient of two medical leadership life-time achievement awards:  the Chris Carruthers Excellence in Medical Leadership Award from the Canadian Society of Physician Executives and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Distinguished Service Award.

In July 2016, Dr. Shaw was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada by Governor General David Johnston, for her work as an advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights.

Dr. Shaw has been heard time and time again calling for us to uphold the standards of woman-centered care, which means that judgement and stereotyping no longer have a place, that women are believed, and that their concerns are taken seriously. Thanks to Dr. Shaw’s voice and her actions, we have moved closer to achieving that desirable goal.

A look back on the Fourth Annual Women’s Health Research Symposium

On Friday, May 31st, 2019 the Women’s Health Research Institute welcomed over 200 members of the women’s health research community and its other stakeholders to the beautiful Vancouver Convention Centre for a day spent exploring work at the forefront of global women’s health research.

Our Fourth Annual Women’s Health Research Symposium was uniquely positioned as a pre-conference event for Women Deliver, which placed Vancouver at the centre of a variety of vital conversations around gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women.

The day began with an acknowledgement of the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, led by Elder Valerie Nicholson who set the tone for the day with a powerful call-to-action: “As learners, please teach; as teachers, please learn.”

Welcoming remarks were offered by Professor Santa Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of British Columbia, and Katja Iversen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Women Deliver.

An inspiring keynote presentation followed, moderated by Dr. Gina Ogilvie and presented by Dr. Princess Nothemba (Nono) Simelela of the World Health Organization, who shared their vision and strategy for a future where cervical cancer has been eliminated globally. The WHO has set an ambitious, but achievable goal of the elimination of cervical cancer by 2030.

Other presentations included a look at the Health of Adolescent Girls in the Local and Global Context, featuring research by Drs. Grace Jaramillo, Angela Kaida, and Tricia Ong; a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Roopan Gill on Health and Human Rights Across the Reproductive Life Cycle for Women with discussion by Dr. Grace Jaramillo, Ms Julia Anderson, and Professor Saraswathi Vedam; and a talk on the health inequities that exist among adolescent girls by Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc.

Our breakout sessions examined the issue of underfunding in women’s health research, shed light on research around respectful maternity care, and introduced BC Women’s Health Foundation’s new expanded mandate.

The afternoon carried pace with a series of presentations on digital health projects benefitting women’s health, which featured Dr. Manjulaa Narasimhan of the World Health Organization speaking about their new guidelines on self-care interventions to support sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls; Dr. Beth Payne, who spoke about her work on with UBC PRE-EMPT and the PIERS project; and Dr. Roopan Gill, who discussed her research on digital tools to provide post-abortion support.

The day concluded with a brief award ceremony, presented by Drs. Lori Brotto and Gina Ogilvie. Dr. Dorothy Shaw was awarded the Career Contribution to Women’s Health Research Award for her inspiring and tireless work to advocate for women’s health. Amanda Rowlands, Master’s of Science candidate, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, and Kalysha Closson, PhD candidate, School of Population & Public Health, University of British Columbia, were each awarded a Women’s Global Health Research Trainee Award.

Closing remarks were offered by Ms. Divya Mathew, Senior Manager, Research, Policy & Advocacy, Women Deliver.