Congratulations to the 2018 Howell UCSD Scholars!

Congratulations to the 2018 Howell UCSD Scholars!

One of the cornerstones of the Foundation is to award scholarships to those who are interested in pursuing a career in women’s health.  We like to say we want them excited to do so!   With fields or research that range from placental stem cells,  to elevated testosterone in the female system, genetic breast cancer counseling for young survivors and gestational diabetes, these young ladies pretty much prove our point! Read about the details of our 2018 UCSD Scholars below!

2018 UCSD Scholars are:

Hoejeong Kim: Embryonic stem cells differentiate into cells required to make up tissues and organs. Tissue-specific stem cells can be found in most organs and contribute to maintaining and repairing the tissue after stress or damage. Hoejeong’s project will focus on identifying and isolating stem cells called trophoblast stem (TS) cells, which have been found in mice but not yet in human placentas. If placental stem cells can be isolated and their potential understood, the door to their therapeutic use in the treatment of placental insufficiency will open. Mentor: David Natale, Reproductive Medicine.

Annie Chen: This project aims to better understand the metabolic dysregulation that occurs in many women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The Thackray lab has developed a mouse model of PCOS to study the metabolic effects of PCOS. Previous studies in the lab have shown that mice with PCOS tend to have increased weight and abdominal adiposity as well as elevated fasting blood glucose and insulin levels and insulin resistance. Annie will better characterize the mouse model of PCOS especially in regard to the effect of increased testosterone levels. Research into this field is important in advancing women’s health as it may increase our understanding of the effects of elevated testosterone on female metabolism, so that we may better understand, diagnose, and treat PCOS.  Mentor: Varykina Thackray, Reproductive Medicine.

Allison Kramer: The purpose of Allison’s project is to determine whether providing young breast cancer survivors with information about cancer genetic risk and testing increases the probability of their pursuing cancer genetic counseling. Self-reported data on seeking genetic counseling collected in a randomized controlled trial will be analyzed to test the efficacy of a web-based survivorship care plan on reproductive health in young breast cancer survivors. In a trial of 202 young breast cancer survivors, the intervention group received information about cancer genetic risks and testing while the control group did not receive this information. We hypothesize that exposing young breast cancer survivors to information about cancer genetic testing will increase their likelihood of pursuing cancer genetic counseling.   Irene Su, Reproductive Medicine.

Rachel Sebastian: The placenta is responsible for transporting nutrients to the fetus and waste products away from the fetus, as well as producing hormones that trigger maternal adaptations to the pregnancy.
Extracellular RNAs (exRNAs) carried by extracellular vesicles (EVs) have recently been shown to mediate intercellular communication, and thus may also carry signals between the mother and fetus. Gestational diabetes mellitus [GDM]) is associated with increased risks to the baby. To better understand the impact of GDM on the interactions between the mother and the fetus, placental explants will be cultured and analyzed to determine the effects of different glucose concentrations on the exRNAs secreted by the explants. We hope that better understanding alterations in exRNAs in response to varying glucose levels may offer insights into the complications associated with diabetes in pregnancy and possibly be used as biomarkers to better screen patients for GDM. Mentor: Louise Laurent, Reproductive Medicine.

Thank you to our supporters who made these scholarships possible and that help in our mission of keeping the women we love healthy:  Soroptimist International, LaCroix Family,  Mirandon Family and Penelope Smith.

UCSD Scholars with Donors 
Pictured above, three of the 4 Scholarship donors:  Soroptimist International, LaCroix Family and the Mirandon Family Foundation for Hope.

Congratulations to our 2018 UCSD Scholars!


About the Doris A. Howell Foundation:

For the past 23 years, The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research has been dedicated to keeping to women we love healthy by making a long-term, positive impact on women’s health.  To date, it is the premier organization advancing women’s health.

The organization does so by funding scholarships to students researching issues affecting women’s health; providing a forum for medical experts, scientists, doctors, and researchers to convey timely information on topics relevant to women’s health, and by funding research initiatives that improve the health of under-served women and increase awareness and advocacy in the community; bringing women’s health research to a full cycle.


Post made possible with information provided by the scholars.

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