Through a settlement brokered by the State of Nevada Attorney General's Office, approximately $3.8 million is available to the University of Nevada School of Medicine for research projects aimed at improving women's health in Nevada.
The State of Nevada obtained the settlement with pharmaceutical companies Wyeth, Pfizer and Pharmacia & Upjohn relating to claims regarding postmenopausal hormone therapy products.
The funds will be distributed by the Attorney General's Office over a five-year period ending in 2019, with half the available research funds going to School of Medicine faculty in Reno and Las Vegas and the other half going to University Medical Center of Southern Nevada.
Through the process of submitting of grant proposals, School of Medicine faculty members are able to access settlement funds to support research studies on women's health.
In Reno, the School of Medicine's pharmacology department is heavily involved in research relating to women's health. Iain Buxton, Pharm.D., pharmacology department chair, has purchased a super-resolution microscope, the first of its kind for Nevada. This microscope enables scientists to study subcellular structures in the greatest detail using fluorescence imaging. Buxton is the principal investigator on research projects involving breast cancer and pre-term birth at the School of Medicine.
Heather Burkin, Ph.D., of the pharmacology department, plans to use the funds to test her hypothesis that certain proteins may regulate uterine contractions, thereby affecting birth timing.
Ruben Dagda, Ph.D., also of the pharmacology department, will use the funding to examine possible connections between Alzheimer's disease in women and the increase in hormone levels from use of estrogen-based hormone therapy.
Dan Spogen, M.D., family medicine chair in Reno, will use the funding to promote use of screening guidelines for women's health. He proposes the development of a patient app that will reduce confusion in patients stemming from conflicting information on frequency and need for various screening tests (Pap smears, breast exams, etc.).
At the School of Medicine's Las Vegas campus, Vani Dandolu, M.D., obstetrics and gynecology chair, plans to establish a Women's Heart Center to improve the transition of care for women admitted to the hospital with heart disease and to identify women with high risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Elissa Palmer, M.D., family medicine chair, plans to use money from the settlement to develop the Clinical Health Assessment and Promotion Program to address women's health issues, specifically preventative health care, in the subpopulation of women with intellectual or developmental disabilities.