Women's Health Program Launches Seminar Series, Awards Scholarships

The Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program has named four scholars selected for career development awards and will launch a new seminar series open to the UCSF community beginning March 8.

Sponsored by the Office of Research on Women’s Health, BIRCWH provides substantial career development support for translational and clinical researchers in a wide variety of disciplines addressing issues in women's health.

The BIRCWH program is a collaborative effort of UCSF and the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research (DOR), based in Oakland, CA. UCSF School of Pharmacy Dean Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, and Joe Selby, MD, director of Kaiser DOR, are co-principal investigators for the award program.

The BIRCWH is led by Research Director Ruth Greenblatt, MD, of the UCSF School of Pharmacy, and Program Director Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH, of the UCSF School of Medicine.

The four scholars selected for career development awards study topics as diverse as post-traumatic stress among HIV-infected women in sub-Saharan Africa, genetic differences in cancer risk among Latinas, the impact of abortion on mental health, and age-associated functional impairment.

The BIRCWH scholars are:

  • Laura Fejerman, MSc, PhD, assistant professor, UCSF Department of Medicine;
  • Wendy Katzman, PT, DPTSc, OCS, associate clinical professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science;
  • Susan M. Meffert, MD, MPH, assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry and a UCSF Global Health Sciences Faculty Burke Scholar; and
  • Julia Steinberg, PhD, who will be an assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry as of April 2011.

About the Seminar Series

Beginning on Tuesday, March 8, the BIRCWH program will host a series of seminars that will provide a mix of lectures, research presentations, workshops, and book groups for anyone in the UCSF community interested in women’s health research. Speakers include junior and senior scholars from UCSF and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Greenblatt and Gandhi have developed this innovative series to provide opportunities for cross-disciplinary learning and interdisciplinary collaboration for women’s health scholars.

The 2011-2012 series begins on March 8, and will thereafter generally be held the first Tuesday afternoon of every month running from 1 to 4 p.m. on the UCSF Parnassus campus. Most sessions are open to all faculty, students, residents, and fellows. See the attached schedule for locations and additional information.

About the Scholars

Laura Fejerman

Laura Fejerman

Laura Fejerman is interested in the genetic epidemiology of complex diseases. She has a Licenciate in Social Anthropology from the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and an MSc degree in Human Biology and a PhD degree in Biological Anthropology from Oxford University (England).

Fejerman’s research focuses on understanding the effect of genetic and non-genetic factors on breast cancer risk and progression in populations of mixed descent (e.g., Latinos and African Americans). She is currently taking part in acollaborative project conducting a genome-wide association study and admixture mapping of breast cancer in Latinas in the United States.

For her BIRCWH research, Fejerman is analyzing data from a collaborative study to uncover possible genetic risk variants for breast cancer in Latinas. Her BIRCWH mentors are Elad Ziv, MD, and Eliseo Perez-Stable, MD.

Wendy Katzman

Wendy Katzman

Wendy Katzman is a physical therapist and a board-certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist. She received her BS degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

After years of clinical work, Katzman recently completed a Doctorate in Physical Therapy Science (DPTSc) degree to study targeted effective therapies for reducing impairments associated with age-related functional decline. She has conducted an uncontrolled clinical trial of the effects of exercise on hyperkyphosis in older community-dwelling women.

Katzman’s BIRCWH research focuses on the epidemiology of hyperkyphosis in older women and the role of hyperkyphosis along the causal pathway to disability. Her BIRCWH mentors are Deborah Grady, MD, and Dennis Black, PhD.

Susan Meffert

Susan Meffert

Susan M. Meffert is a member of the research faculty for the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma annual global mental health training program. She received her MD degree from the University of Iowa and has an MPH degree in international health from Harvard University.

Meffert is interested in developing mental health interventions to stem the individual and interpersonal impact of mass trauma in low-resource settings. She completed a successful pilot trial of interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) for depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms among Darfur refugees in Cairo, and she has an ongoing project in China with survivors of the Sichuan earthquake. Through her research and the mentorship she received from UCSF global health leaders, Dr. Meffert became interested in the strong associations of violence, trauma, and HIV among women worldwide.

Meffert plans to incorporate her BIRCWH research into the development of a pilot mental health intervention for the treatment of depression and post-traumatic stress among HIV-infected women in sub-Saharan Africa. Her BIRCWH mentor is Thomas Neylan, MD.

Julia Steinberg

Julia Steinberg

Julia Steinberg will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry as of April, 2011.  She received her PhD degree in Social Psychology from Arizona State University and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Abortion and Reproductive Health in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at UCSF before becoming a BIRCWH scholar.

Broadly, Steinberg’s research area lies at the intersection of psychology and reproductive health. In particular, she has attempted to determine whether pregnancy outcomes (abortion, delivery, or miscarriage/stillbirth) have an association with subsequent mental health. One of her current research projects assesses the influence of mental health on post-abortion contraceptive choice.

For her BIRCWH research, Steinberg is investigating the role of childhood adversities in risk of abortion, post-abortion mental health, and post-abortion contraceptive choice. Her principal  BIRCWH mentor is  Jeanne Tschann, MD; Nancy Adler, PhD; Alicia F. Lieberman, PhD; Tracy Weitz, PhD; and Diane Greene Foster, PhD.