Presentations & Publications

Photo courtesy of thisweek@ucsandiego

First-Generation faculty member Becky Marquez, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine, was one of three Panelists at a recent UC San Diego event entitled, “Failing Forward: Bouncing Back and Exploring Your Passions.” Dr. Marquez and co-panelists shared life experiences and advice with more than 140 students.  Although paths through undergraduate (and eventually graduate and professional settings) were varied, the presenters agreed that reaching out for help and building supportive networks were vital tools for overcoming barriers.  Further, Dr. Marquez noted that, "A lot of what leads to success is taking advantage of opportunities, and being willing to put yourself out there and take a risk."  Thank you, Dr. Marquez, for sharing your insights with our many first-generation - and all - students!

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Drs. Cinnamon Bloss and Kimberly Brouwer

have recently published results of a research assessment, "Public Response to a "roposed Field Trial of Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes in the United States" in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Despite an increase in vector-borne diseases in the United States, there has been public opposition to novel vector control methods, particularly those that leverage advances in genetic engineering. In 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) invited public comments on a draft environmental assessment for a proposed field trial of a genetically engineered mosquito (OX513A) designed to suppress wild-type Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can transmit diseases such as Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. Trials of OX513A in other countries have demonstrated reductions in numbers of A aegypti.

JAMA publication
Press Release

Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Aladdin Shadyab, with guidance from his mentor, Dr. Andrea LaCroix (Professor and Chief of Epidemiology and a Senior Investigator at the Womens Health Initiative Clinical Coordinating Center), just published the results of a large prospective study of reproductive factors in relation to survival to age 90. The study, published online in Menopause, was the first to evaluate the association of reproductive factors with survival to a specific advanced age.

The study utilized data from the logitudinal Womens Health initiative (WHI).  The WHI was funded by NHLBI and has been collecting data since the early 1990's, which allows research of great potential benefit to public health practitioners and women in general.  With up to 23 years of follow-up data currently available, large studies of healthy aging, exceptional longevity, physical and cognitive function and many age-related chronic conditions are possible.  With enrollment of more than  160,000 women who were aged 50-79 in 1993-1998 (including 4000+ in San Diego), the dataset  now contains information on more than 46,000 women who survived to age 85 and over, and 15,000 who survived to age 90.

womens-health-thumb.jpg Dr. Maria Rosario (Happy) Araneta had the honor of being invited as the Inaugural Lecturer at the Lawrence and Evelyn Wing Family Endowed Lectureship on Diabetes, established by Harvard's Joslin Diabetes Center.

This endowed lectureship series will allow Joslin's faculty, staff and students to meet and learn from distinguished visiting scholars, lecturers, and other experts in diabetes research. Dr. Araneta spoke to an audience of 200+ endocrinologists, clinical and research faculty and staff, and medical residents/students on March 1, 2017, and was celebrated during a dinner reception. She was warmly welcomed by their leadership including Dr.George King (Director of Research and Head of Vascular Biology), Dr. William Hsu (Vice President of International Programs) and Dr. Peter Amenta (President and CEO). Dr. Araneta states that it was a touching privilege to be honored at Harvard's Joslin Diabetes Center.

Journal supplement focuses on aging in women Veterans - Findings based on long-term Women’s Health Initiative

Dr. Andrea LaCroix, PhD, 
Professor and Chief of Epidemiology and a senior Investigator at the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Clinical Coordinating Center, and Dr. Gayle Reiber, a senior career scientist at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System worked with 60 VA and non-VA researchers to compare health and mortality between Veterans and non-Veterans in the sample. Findings were described in a January 14, 2016 supplement to The Gerontologist, which contains 13 articles by Veterans Affairs (VA) researchers and colleagues on Veteran and non-Veteran womens' aging and mortality. 

The longitudinal WHI study began in 1991 with funding from the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The study included more than 3,700 women Veterans, among nearly 162,000 postmenopausal women from 40 centers across the US. WHI researchers have collected data on health status, disease, health behaviors, and social and psychological factors, following the women for more than two decades.  Among the Veteran-focused findings:

  • Women Veterans reported lower levels of self-perceived health, life satisfaction, social support, physical function, and quality of life.
  • Women Veterans and non-Veterans were similar at baseline in mental function tests, but declines in cognitive function over time were greater in the Veteran group.
  • Women Veterans experienced higher hip-fracture rates than non-Veterans, but this was not the case for other types of fractures.
  • Women Veterans smoked more and were exposed to more passive smoke, which resulted in a greater risk for lung cancer.
  • All-cause mortality rates were higher for Veterans, but only for those serving before the Vietnam era.  
  • Women Veterans serving before the Vietnam era experienced more cancer, relative to non-Veterans, whereas those serving during or after Vietnam had more traumas from motor vehicle accidents or other causes.

"Prior military service identifies a group of women who face special challenges as they grow older," notes LaCroix.  "It is essential to learn about their healthcare needs after leaving service now and in the future."  Many women Veterans could benefit from programs promoting physical activity, social connections, healthy weight, and smoking cessation, and evaluation for depression.

VA's Office of Women's Health leads efforts within the agency to identify women Veterans' health-related needs and improve their health care.  Dr. Reiber says there are several reasons why health outcomes may differ between Veteran and non-Veteran women as they age.  "Women Veterans were considered 'healthy soldiers,' since joining the military meant passing a variety of tests—education, aptitude, physical ability, mental function. It also meant maintaining physical fitness, and receiving health care," notes Reiber. "Yet women Veterans may have been more likely to engage in health behaviors such as smoking, alcohol use, and poor diet, and this, combined with exposure to hazardous environments and mental and physical stress, may have limited their ability to adapt to repeated stresses over the lifetime."

For more information, visit the GSA Blog Post for Women Veterans Supplement