Deborah Grady, MD, MPH, recently provided an audience of estate and financial planners with more than they thought they would need to know about treating menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
It was all in the name of women's health as Grady - associate dean of clinical/translational research in the School of Medicine, director of the UCSF Women's Health Clinical Research Center, and professor and vice chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics - was on hand to explain the role of clinical trials in research, how unexpected findings have had far-reaching implications and how the important work that has been conducted has developed breakthroughs in the treatment of women's health issues.
The innovative work of researchers and clinicians to uncover causes and develop treatments - or even to conduct training programs - would not be possible without the funding options available through philanthropic outreach.
"Philanthropy is based on belief in the mission or cause," said Nancy Milliken, MD, vice dean of the School of Medicine and director of the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health (CoE), who led the presentation in late October.
"For many years now, there has been a strong movement for philanthropists to fund programs for women and girls, as many recognize that this can lead to long-term social change," she said. "Women are the inspiration for and supporters of the women's health initiative. They are the protagonists - the key health care decisionmakers for themselves and their families."
Grady and Milliken were joined by a powerhouse of faculty from UCSF women's health sectors that included Linda Giudice, MD, PhD, MSc, professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, and Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center and professor of surgery and radiology.
"This is the first time we've had members of the CoE address this group of professional advisers," said Dan Riley, director of planned giving in the UCSF Development Office. "We work closely with the individuals here to structure planned gifts and bequests, and there has been a great deal of interest in what UCSF does in women's health."
The CoE, one of the first nationally designated Centers of Excellence in Women's Health, this year celebrates its 10th anniversary. Milliken explained that the CoE model was designed as a multidisciplinary approach to women's health, integrating clinical care, research, professional education, leader development and community outreach.
Women's health leaders, from left include, Laura Esserman, Nancy Milliken, Deborah Grady and Linda Giudice.
"It's a matter of transforming health and improving the lives of women and girls," said Milliken. "The need is compelling, the science is fascinating, and the impact is wide-ranging and gratifying. Community engagement makes us better informed with wisdom from the community."
According to Women & Philanthropy, an association of grantmakers dedicated to achieving equity for women and girls, "There is enormous untapped potential for philanthropy to make the most of women's ability to create change in the future."
And while programs geared to serve women and girls have benefited from philanthropy, research on women donors has shown that there are stark differences between men and women and their approach to charitable giving.
Making a Difference
Dixie Horning, executive director of the CoE, pointed out that women do not tend to base their philanthropy on business or the need for public recognition, but on the desire to make a difference.
"Women value a sense of connection to the cause," she said. "They want to be involved with the organizations they support, and for the solicitor, it is a cultivation process."
At the meeting, faculty emphasized the important work being performed and the advancements that have been made in women's health. The collaborative model of the CoE, for example, has encouraged and enabled faculty and staff to work together in a multidisciplinary center.
"UCSF is an incredibly collaborative environment," said Esserman. "It's all about how you can get people working together - and we do. And it's ever-changing. As soon as we advance one thing, we should be on to the next."
Giudice, who has brought to UCSF a wealth of expertise and experience in gynecological and reproductive health from her many years on the faculty of Stanford University and as director of Stanford's Center for Research on Women's Health and Reproduction, told the group that the CoE's focus on women's health is "unparalleled in the country.
"There are very few departments of ob/gyn that are part of a Center of Excellence," she said. "The fact that so much of the work is community-based and focuses on teens is valuable to providing health care information and education that affect women's health."
On the topic of research, Giudice spoke of the "exciting discoveries being made in stem cell sciences," specifically human embryonic stem cell science.
"Personalized medicine, such as the use of stem cells to investigate certain diseases, offers huge opportunities for genetic diagnosis before birth," she said. "From eggs and sperms and stem cells all the way to the mechanisms of menopause, we are working on a larger scale for improvement in women's health worldwide."
Giving trends show that investment in women's health initiatives can effectively change the way gender differences in health are traditionally viewed.
"Women's health is its own entity in some respects," said Milliken. "Women are no longer seen as 'small men,' as was once the old-school thought. We're seeing trends in giving not only to women's causes, but also giving by women in philanthropy themselves. It's a sector that should not be ignored."
The professional advisers' meeting, which took place in late October, was coordinated by Riley and Katherine Tick, director of development at the CoE, and was held at the UCSF Foundation offices downtown.
"These intimate gatherings showcase the talent that we have here, and allow professional advisers a chance to ask questions of our faculty one-on-one," said Tick. "I think we all realize the importance of fundraising in order to move our efforts forward. Taking the time to share our knowledge - and our passion - in an informal setting is a wonderful way in which to engage our donors and those who advise them."