With the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 women’s rights were grievously attacked. Lisa brings a long history of working in biotech and reproductive health. Lisa shares her perspectives on what the overturning of Roe means to women and their reproductive health. She brings an optimistic viewpoint to the discussion and shares how this may be a catalyst for much needed change to contraception and women’s health care.
While a lot of the discussion focuses on reproductive health, we also talk about the work she currently does at Day One Biopharmaceuticals where she focuses on bringing cancer treatments to children with brain cancer. Typically, most biotech companies study their medicines in adults first and then move to children later, but Day One begins their drug development programs in children first.
We also talk about the important role of humanities and communications in STEM.
Music used in the podcast: Higher Up, Silverman Sound Studio
Acronyms, Definitions, and Fact Check
Pediatric low-grade gliomas are a heterogeneous set of tumors. They encompass tumors of astrocytic, oligodendroglial, and mixed glial-neuronal histology. Although their clinical behavior can vary, the majority of low-grade gliomas are indolent and do not undergo malignant transformation. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917804/)
Shelley Alpern, Director of Corporate Engagement at Rhia Ventures
1 in 8 pregnancies end in miscarriage. 1 in 5 pregnancies end in abortion.
“Killing the Black Body” by Dorothy Roberts – https://www.amazon.com/Killing-Black-Body-Reproduction-Meaning/dp/0679758690/ref=sr_1_1?gclid=Cj0KCQjw8amWBhCYARIsADqZJoXr4AGyWxNFKzRElWoF-DTSoNPDinmFHKMxV923BvPGnYE7nJ0lBnMaAhw8EALw_wcB&hvadid=481141661642&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9020165&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=9348071623104259514&hvtargid=kwd-1029467580408&hydadcr=7466_9611873&keywords=killing+the+black+body+book&qid=1657503719&sr=8-1
How much gets spent on women’s health care? Women’s health research continues to be marginalized. To address and reverse this trend requires committed, accountable leadership, inclusion of diversity of thought and critical social science issues, in addition to the more well-funded basic traditional and clinical research. There are several areas that contribute to this marginalization, first, with respect to pregnant women. Optimizing pregnancy outcome would significantly improve world health, as babies, if born early – and often thus small – have higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, and asthma. (https://www.contemporaryobgyn.net/view/addressing-inequalities-in-women-s-health-research) – Note – There’s a great chart in this article showing where women’s healthcare ranks in terms of other research areas for funding.
How does the NIH make funding decisions? Decision-makers at NIH seek advice from many sources when setting research priorities:
- the scientific community, including both individual researchers and professional societies;
- patient organizations and voluntary health associations;
- Institute and Center Advisory Councils;
- the Congress and the Administration;
- the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD);
- the Scientific Management Review Board; and
- the NIH staff.
The NIH builds its budget by evaluating current opportunities and public health needs while maintaining strong support for investigator-initiated research. The formulation of the NIH budget provides an established framework within which priorities are identified, reviewed, and justified. (https://www.nih.gov/about-nih/nih-research-planning)
How much funding does contraceptive research get? Women’s health and STI’s made up 1.1% of NIH funding in 2019. Of that 1.1%, around 21% was dedicated to contraception. So one fifth of 1% in general. 0.20 of the whole NIH budget. (https://www.kff.org/global-health-policy/fact-sheet/the-u-s-government-and-international-family-planning-reproductive-health-efforts/) This article provides statistics on contraception R&D worldwide: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1215519/contraception-rd-funding-worldwide/
How much research is done on women vs men? According to the Institute of Medicine, every cell in our bodies has a sex, which means men and women are different at a cellular level. That also means that diseases, treatments, and chemicals might affect the sexes differently. And yet there’s a long and storied tradition of ignoring gender when it comes to health research. For several reasons, female subjects have historically been excluded from toxicology or biomedical research, says Tamarra James-Todd, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School. While progress has been made since 1993, when the National Institutes of Health mandated that women and minorities be included in any government-funded health research, there’s still a long way to go. In a 2014 report, researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston chronicled the exclusion of women from health research and its impact on women’s health:
The science that informs medicine – including the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease – routinely fails to consider the crucial impact of sex and gender. This happens in the earliest stages of research, when females are excluded from animal and human studies or the sex of the animals isn’t stated in the published results. Once clinical trials begin, researchers frequently do not enroll adequate numbers of women or, when they do, fail to analyze or report data separately by sex. This hampers our ability to identify important differences that could benefit the health of all.(https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/30/fda-clinical-trials-gender-gap-epa-nih-institute-of-medicine-cardiovascular-disease)
How much research is done on people of color? Currently, African Americans and Hispanics make up 12.4% and 15.8% of the US population, respectively.2 A recent report indicates that minorities represent almost 30% of those enrolled in clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and that African Americans now make up approximately 15% of those minority participants.3 There is still room for improvement, however, with significant enrollment issues continuing to affect the representation of Hispanics in clinical trials. One report estimated Hispanic representation in NIH studies at 7.6% of all research participants,3 and a report on industry-sponsored studies found that only 3% of those participants were Hispanic.4 Increasing the participation of all minorities in clinical trials is critical for the production of knowledge about new therapies because having diverse research participants can improve the generalizability of medicine. Additionally, minority participation in clinical trials is an important topic in public health discussions because this representation touches on issues of equality and the elimination of disparities, which are core values of the field. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222419/)
SisterSong – SisterSong is a Southern based, national membership organization; our purpose is to build an effective network of individuals and organizations to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the reproductive lives of marginalized communities. (https://www.sistersong.net)
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte – Planned Parenthood Mar Monte (PPMM) is the largest Planned Parenthood affiliate in the U.S., providing medical and education services to more than 220,000 people annually at over 30 health center locations in mid-California and northern Nevada. (https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-mar-monte)
National Network of Abortion Funds – The National Network of Abortion Funds builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice. (https://abortionfunds.org)