Congratulations to the recipients of the UBC 2018 Faculty of Medicine Awards!

Congratulations to WHRI members Drs. Joanne Weinberg and Jehannine Austin, who were recently awarded for their work in the UBC 2018 Faculty of Medicine Awards.

The Bill and Marilyn Webber Lifetime Achievement award was given to Joanne Weinberg for a distinguished career at UBC in the areas of research, training and/or service, and Jehannine Austin was awarded for Excellence in Education and given a UBC Killam Teaching Prize.

Read the full announcement here.

MSFHR 2018 Reach Award project: #LifeAndLoveWithHIV: A social media initiative to support the sexual health needs of women living with HIV

WHRI members Drs. Angela Kaida, Lori Brotto, and Ali Carter and Margarite Sanchez are working together to create an online space for women living with HIV to reclaim their sexuality and shift the narrative from risk to pleasure. Read our Q&A with the team to learn more about this amazing project!

  1. Briefly, what research will you be disseminating with the MSFHR Reach Award?

The overall purpose of our project, #LifeAndLoveWithHIV: A social media initiative to support the sexual health needs of women living with HIV, is to move research evidence, along with lived experience perspectives, about sexuality and relationships in the context of HIV directly into the hands of women living with HIV and those who love and support them. Desire, pleasure, abstinence, and love are just a few of the topics we’ll be disseminating with the MSFHR Reach Award. Much of this information comes from our own research on Women’s Sexuality, as well as women’s personal essays on the subject.

  1. How will you be disseminating it?

We believe storytelling has the potential to improve sexual health—be it knowledge, attitudes, feelings, or behaviors. We also believe in the power of stories for positive social change. To achieve this, we created a feminist magazine and blog, www.lifeandlovewithhiv.ca dedicated to building conversation and community around sexuality and relationships with HIV.

  1. Research users are expected to play a key role in Reach Award-funded projects. How did your patient partner get involved with the project and what will their role look like within your team?

Research users came up with the idea! A group of us (some women living with HIV, some researchers) had been working together for a number of years on the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Study (CHIWOS). In 2018, we co-founded and launched Life and Love with HIV. Our community features six women-identifying writers from all around the world who live with HIV (USA, Canada, UK, South Africa, Kenya, and New Zealand). They are supported by three Editors, Florence Anam, Margarite Sanchez, and Dr. Allie Carter, as well as a team of resident researchers who provide the statistics and information we need to further our cause.

  1. Why is it important to share this research?

For decades, HIV research and support has focused solely on preventing disease and saving lives. Frankly, not many people have cared much about the quality of women’s sexual lives. More than 17 million women are currently living with HIV. With treatment, women can live just as long, and just as well, as those without the disease. They also have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus, if they’re stable on their meds and have an undetectable viral load. In this era of amazing medical progress, we saw an opportunity to change the outdated narrative of AIDS, sickness, despair, and death, and share positive, pleasure-focused stories on life, love, and everything in between. Ultimately, the goal of our platform is to de-stigmatize and de-marginalize sexuality and relationships in the context of HIV and better support women, partners, and couples who are living with disease globally.

  1. When/where can we expect to see your research disseminated?

Visit and share www.lifeandlovewithhiv.ca. There is a lot of content already on our website and much, much more to come!

Meet the researcher: Dr. Gillian Hanley

Dr. Hanley headshotWHRI member Dr. Gillian Hanley is a health services and health economics researcher with OVCARE.

Recently her work has involved evaluating a knowledge translation initiative which asked gynaecologists across British Columbia to consider changing their practice to include opportunistic salpingectomy to help prevent ovarian cancer.


What is your role at OVCARE, and what led you to ovarian cancer research?

I’m an Assistant Professor in Obstetrics & Gyencology and a PI with OVCARE. I became interested in ovarian cancer research after hearing about the opportunistic salpingectomy (OS) campaign that OVCARE ran and the possibilities for preventing ovarian cancer, which is a terrible disease with a very low survival rate. As it is not possible to screen for ovarian cancer, and we have made little progress in the way of treatment, prevention is our best hope!

Briefly, what is opportunistic salpingectomy and who is it for?

Opportunistic salpingectomy refers to the removal of both fallopian tubes at the time of hysterectomy or instead of tubal ligation in women seeking permanent irreversible contraception. It should be discussed with any woman who is already undergoing one of those surgeries, and involves simply removing the entirety of her fallopian tubes (the tissue or origin for most ovarian cancers).

What was the biggest challenge in evaluating a knowledge translation initiative?

The biggest challenge with evaluation has been that we really need to study this on a population-level, as ovarian cancer is a very rare disease (thankfully). Luckily we have excellent data resources in BC, but they do not always contain data on all the things we would like to know about women who have undergone OS, so we have had to find some creative solutions.

Was there anything that surprised you during the initiative or evaluation?

The incredible success of the educational campaign that Dianne Miller, Sarah Finlayson and others at OVCARE ran in 2010 was remarkable. It usually takes 17 years for a recommendation to significantly change practice. In BC, rates of OS with hysterectomy went from 8% to 75% in and rates of OS for sterilization went from 0.5% to 50% less than 5 years following the campaign. That is really remarkable.

How may these findings impact patient care?

We hope that we will soon be able to show that by implementing OS in British Columbia, we have dramatically decreased the incidence of ovarian cancer in the province. If we have successfully decreased new cases of ovarian cancer, then we know we will have saved lives.

If there was one thing you wish everyone knew about ovarian cancer, what would it be?

That we think we can prevent it.

Sex & Gender Considerations in Research

The Women’s Health Research Institute strives to create new knowledge that can inform and transform the health of women and their families. This is why we are thrilled that the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) now requires all research applicants to include considerations for sex & gender into their projects where appropriate.

But what exactly does that mean?

We attended the CIHR Sex & Gender workshop, and this is what we learned!

What is the difference between sex & gender?

  • Sex = biological characteristics
  • Gender = cultural attitudes and behaviours

Why should you include considerations for sex & gender in your research?

  • Sex and gender affect everyone
  • Women are historically under-represented in health research
  • Men’s health is not a proxy for women’s health
  • It results in better science

How can you include sex & gender considerations in your research?

  • Discuss the differences in disease prevalence
  • Discuss relevant sex & gender research gaps
  • If the objective includes both men & women, make that explicit
  • Increase the sample size to allow for reporting of sex & gender differences
  • Discuss gendered considerations in recruitment strategies
  • Add a sex & gender question on your questionnaire
  • Include sex & gender in your analysis strategy
  • Customize your KT plan by sex & gender

There are many reasons why sex & gender considerations may not be applicable to your research question, such as when studying diseases that affect only one sex, addressing a significant gender gap in research, or when the data just isn’t available.  However, a clear justification is necessary and creativity is encouraged.

Resources

By Heather Noga, Research Coordinator

Dr. Ruth Grunau receives a CIHR Spring 2018 Project Grant

Dr. Ruth Grunau and her team received a CIHR Project Grant for their research project “Stress, Brain and Neurodevelopment in Children Born Preterm”.

Research has shown that >50% of babies born preterm (<37 weeks gestation) show significant developmental problems (cognitive, attention, behaviour, social, motor, academic). Their team will look at the link between the pain-related stress that babies born very preterm (<32 weeks gestation) are subject to throughout their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, and its impact on the babies’ brain development.

The team will follow children born very preterm (24-32 weeks gestation) until 8 years of age, to determine how the developing brain and stress systems may affect neurodevelopmental outcomes. Their study will also consider the role of parenting and whether effects differ by sex.

The project grant will provide $872,101 over four years.

CIHR Spring 2018 Project Grant Competition recipients

Last month CIHR announced recipients for the Spring 2018 Project Grant competition, and WHRI members Drs. Karin Humphries, Crystal Karakochuk, Ruth Grunau, and Wendy Norman and their teams were awarded for their research.

Dr. Karin Humphries is addressing gender inequities in women’s heart health with her project hs cTn – Optimizing the Diagnosis of Acute Myocardial Infarction/Injury in Women (CODE-MI). Read more.

Dr. Crystal Karakochuk’s research is looking at women living in Cambodia receiving daily iron supplementation to help inform future global policy addressing populations with high rates of anemia. Read more.

Stress, Brain and Neurodevelopment in Children Born Preterm, a project co-led by Dr. Ruth Grunau, will look at the link between pain-related stress that babies born very preterm (<32 weeks gestation) are subject to throughout their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, and its impact on the babies’ brain development. Read more.

Although Nurse Practitioners are now permitted to perform medical abortions, little is known about how to support them or what barriers may exist to implementing high quality care. Dr. Wendy Norman seeks to address this gap with The Canadian Nurse Practitioner medical abortion study. Read more.

Dr. Crystal Karakochuk receives a CIHR Spring 2018 Project Grant

Dr. Crystal Karakochuk received a CIHR Spring 2018 Project Grant for her project, “Is iron supplementation harmful in populations where iron deficiency is not the cause of anemia? A 12 week randomized controlled supplementation trial in Cambodia”.

Despite the strong evidence that iron supplementation can benefit women who are iron deficient, there is little known about the safety of iron supplementation for women who are not. However, a guideline set in 2016 by the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends daily iron supplementation as a public health intervention to prevent and control anemia in areas where the prevalence of anemia is 40% or higher.

Dr. Karakochuk and her team aim to address this knowledge gap by studying a group of Cambodian women who, in accordance with the WHO policy, have been administered daily iron supplementation. Their findings will help inform future global policy for blanket iron supplementation in non-pregnant women worldwide.

The project grant will provide $187,424 over three years.

Dr. Karin Humphries receives a CIHR Spring 2018 Project Grant

While gender-based inequities affecting women’s heart health have been gaining attention (see the #TimeToSeeRed campaign from the Heart and Stroke Foundation) women may also face inequities based on their age. WHRI member Dr. Karin Humphries and her team have received a CIHR Spring 2018 Project Grant to address this healthcare gap with their project “hs cTn – Optimizing the Diagnosis of Acute Myocardial Infarction/Injury in Women (CODE-MI)”.

When women under the age of 55 experience a heart attack, their risk of death is two times higher than their male counterparts. Dr. Humphries and team believe that this could be changed with a lower cut-point for the biomarker high sensitivity cardiac troponin (hs-cTn; a protein released when the heart is damaged during a heart attack) since women produce lower levels of the protein than men.

This lower cut-point will be introduced in 26 emergency departments across the country, with the intention of identifying more women with heart damage, and thus improving health outcomes and care.

The project grant will provide $1,656,226 over five years.

Meet the students!

Meet Aya, Chadni, Nicole, and Ryan, four students working on WHRI-affiliated projects over the summer.

Aya Zakaria

What do you study?
I am currently a 4th year student in the Honours in Biotechnology program. It is a joint program between UBC and BCIT in which students spend two years in BCIT to undergo rigorous laboratory training, and the final two years in UBC to enhance their theoretical knowledge and research skills.

Who is supervising your project?
Dr. Hélène Côté and Anthony Hsieh. Anthony is a PhD student in the Côté Lab and is also an alumnus of the Honours in Biotechnology program.

In one or two sentences, describe the project you’re working on:
My research investigates the mitochondrial toxicity of various combination antiretroviral therapy regimens on primary human blood cells. These drugs are used to treat HIV and have been previously linked with mitochondrial damage. The focus will be centered on examining signs of mitochondrial damage such as changes in mitochondrial DNA content, membrane potential and reactive oxygen species.

What’s your role in the project?
Under the guidance of my supervisor, I am performing all the experiments and data analyses. I also play a primary role in designing each protocol.

What’s been the most memorable/favourite thing you’ve done on the project so far?
My favorite thing about this project is the independence I am given while designing, performing and analyzing my experiments and results. Being so heavily involved with each step has exposed me to the underlying principles of academic research. It also gave me the opportunity to strengthen my networking skills while interacting with the scientific communities that the Côté lab is part of, such as the Centre for Blood Research.


Chadni Khondokerchadni khondoker headshot

What do you study?
I am a fourth year Integrated Science Student integrating human physiology and motor function in the Faculty of Science at UBC Vancouver.

Who is supervising your project?
Dr. Melanie Murray is supervising the project.

In one or two sentences, describe the project you’re working on:
This study will use existing prospective data from the CARMA (Children and Women, AntiRetroviral and Markers of Aging) study to examine the contraceptive choices and associated factors of women living with HIV (WLWH) and their HIV-negative peers. WLWH less frequently choose hormonally based contraceptive methods when compared with their HIV-negative peers; we aim to determine associated factors such as drug interactions with antiretroviral therapy or other medical contraindications that may influence contraceptive prescribing practices.

What’s your role in the project? 
My role in the project is to conduct a literature review on the topic of contraceptive choice among women living with HIV, to determine the appropriate covariates for analysis, download and clean data from redcap for statistical analysis, as well as begin the preparation of a manuscript. I have the pleasure of attending educational talks delivered by inspiring professionals in the health care field that aid in the progression and development of this project.

What’s been the most memorable/favourite thing you’ve done on the project so far?
My favorite part off this project so far has been to be able to work along side and be mentored by a dynamic group of strong, inspiring female professionals. I am constantly left in awe by their passion, vision, and dedication to advancing health care and commitment to engaging marginalized populations. They go above and beyond for their patients as well as their students and role model ways to approach situations both objectively and with empathy. I feel very grateful for the opportunity to work at Oak Tree Clinic and l look forward to what lies ahead.

Connect with Chadni on LinkedIn


Nicole Ng

What do you study?
I am a medical student at UBC going into my second year!

Who is supervising your project?
Dr. Paul Yong

In one or two sentences, describe the project you’re working on:
Right now, I am working on a project looking at factors associated with negative impressions of the medical profession in women with endometriosis.

What’s your role in the project?
My role in the project is to analyze the data collected from the Endometriosis Pelvic Pain Interdisciplinary Cohort Data Registry at the BC Women’s Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis and to present my findings at different opportunities such as the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Summer Student Research Program poster day.

What’s been the most memorable/favourite thing you’ve done on the project so far?
The most memorable thing I’ve done so far on the project is learning more about how chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis can have big impacts on different aspects of a woman’s quality of life and current approaches to address these problems.


Ryan Yanryan yan selfie

What do you study?
I am currently working on an audit of the Evaluating Maternal and fetal Markers for Adverse placental outcomes (EMMA) clinic here at BCWH.

Who is supervising your project?
Drs. Chantal Mayer and Julie Robertson

In one or two sentences, describe the project you’re working on:
Pregnant women across BC and Yukon are referred for assessment by their prenatal care providers (obstetricians, family doctors, midwives, etc.) if they are at high risk for developing placental disease, including pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. We are investigating if the current referral criteria and in-clinic assessment appropriately selects the population at highest risk and what the maternal, fetal and neonatal outcomes are.

What’s your role in the project?
Currently I am collecting data from various sources about the referral, EMMA assessment, and pregnancy outcomes, which will then be analyzed and ultimately used to inform better care.

What’s been the most memorable/favourite thing you’ve done on the project so far?
In June, I gave a short presentation of my work to other participants of the BCCHR Summer Student Research Program.

BC Perinatal Data Registry

The Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) is pleased to announce the launch of a pilot project in partnership with Perinatal Services BC (PSBC), allowing WHRI members to access data from the BC Perinatal Data Registry (BCPDR) through a dedicated in-house Data Analyst at the WHRI. It is our intention that by providing direct access through the WHRI, the data request process will be more streamlined and efficient, thereby increasing the number of researchers who are able to gain access to BCPDR data.

The BCPDR contains maternal, fetal, and neonatal health information for an estimated 99% of all deliveries and births that occur in British Columbia. From the year 2000, the BCPDR has captured approximately 45,000 births per year, including data on maternal postpartum readmissions up to 42 days post-delivery and baby transfers and readmissions up to 28 days after birth. Access to person specific (record level) de-identified data from the BCPDR can be provided for addressing a specific set of research questions. Aggregate data without personal information that are expressed in summary form (i.e. total births, average age of mother at delivery, total cesarean sections, etc.) are also available to assist with research planning.

The WHRI is now able to accept, review, and approve data access requests, as well as providing the data, for WHRI members. We are able to offer co-ordination of the entire data access request process, including guidance, support, and advice to WHRI members who are preparing an application for BCPDR data.

You are able to apply for research data from the BCPDR facilitated by the WHRI if:

  • You are a WHRI member, or under the supervision of WHRI member
  • You require access to an unlinked set of data from the BCPDR. You cannot link WHRI BCPDR data with any other data.
  • Your project has been approved by a Research Ethics Board.
  • You have contacted the WHRI Data Analyst prior to submission of the Data Access Request.

 You are able to apply for aggregate data from the BCPDR facilitated by the WHRI if:

  • You are a WHRI member, or under the supervision of WHRI member.
  • You are requesting data for provincial or sub-provincial (e.g. Health Authority) summary data that do not include personal information or potential identifiers.
  • You require the data for the purposes of research planning only.
  • You have contacted the WHRI Data Analyst prior to submission of the Data Access Request.

For more information on the WHRI BCPDR, including a list of available fields, please see our website: http://whri.org/bcpdr-data-request/

 

For any questions, further information or to apply, please contact the WHRI Data Analyst:

Emma Branch, 604-875-2424 ext.4796, emma.branch@cw.bc.ca