Women's Health Research at Yale Names 2003 Donaghue Grant Recipients

The Ethel F. Donaghue Women’s Health Investigator Program at Yale, part of Women’s Health Research at Yale (WHR), recently awarded grants to three Yale scientists for research on genital herpes, hormone influences on smoking and high blood pressure during pregnancy.

The 2003 grant recipients and their areas of study include:

Akiko Iwaski, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. She will investigate gender differences in infection and immunity to genital herpes, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases worldwide. Genital herpes is both more common and more severe in women than in men. Iwaski will study the role of the HSV-2 virus that causes the disease. Her work will further the design of preventative measures such as vaccines and anti-viral gels that are specifically tailored by gender.

Donna M. Neale, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. Neale will study how cells called trophoblasts affect preeclampsia, a disease unique to pregnancy. This disorder is heralded by the onset of hypertension after the 20th week of pregnancy and is one of the leading causes of maternal and infant death. Neale will look at the difference in trophoblast cells and the proteins in the blood of pregnant women with and without preeclampsia. This work could provide the basis for a screening test to predict preeclampsia.

Julie K. Staley, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry. Staley will explore how the brain’s nicotine receptors change with variations in ß-estradiol and progesterone levels in women who are non-smokers. The results from this research will guide future studies of women smokers and the severity of side effects associated with cessation of smoking during different phases of the menstrual cycle. This will further understanding of the biological mechanisms that would underlie smoking cessation treatments for women smokers.

Directed by Carolyn Mazure, professor of psychiatry and associate dean for faculty affairs, the Donaghue Women’s Health Investigator Program was established in February 1998 through initial funding from The Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326