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Women's Health Education Program Scholars' Projects

Women's Health Scholars

Brittany Ashe, WHEP Scholar

The Vaginal Microbiome and Reproductive Health
Brittany Ashe
Until recently, knowledge of the human microbiome was limited due to the inability to successfully culture the majority of bacterial species in the laboratory. However, research focusing on the microbiome has exploded over the last decade. With the advent of 16S rRNA gene sequencing, scientists and clinicians are now able to directly analyze biological samples without the need for cultures. Learn more.

WHEP scholar Aria Attia

On Surmounting the Barriers to HPV Vaccination: We Can Do Better
Published in Annals of Medicine (2018) 50:209-225
Aria Attia

HPV infection causes cancers of the cervix, vagina and vulva in women, the oropharynx and anus in both sexes, and penile cancer in men. HPV vaccine coverage among U.S. adolescents has steadily increased since vaccine licensure but remains well below the 80% target set forth by the Healthy People 2020 initiative. A number of barriers have hindered increased coverage including: lack of a strong HCP recommendation to vaccinate, low acceptability of vaccination of males, sexualization of the vaccine and non-uniform timeline for vaccination administration. Read more.

WHEP scholar Leanna Brooks

What Are the Risk Factors for Development of the Female Athlete Triad in Adolescent Female Athletes, and How Can Health Professionals Help?
Leanna Brooks
Athletes are usually associated with healthy lifestyles and lower levels of obesity. So, it may come as a surprise that a potentially dangerous medical condition can affect athletes much more than the general population. In the 1990s, experts in sports medicine noticed a pattern of three medical abnormalities in young female athletes: low energy availability, decreased bone mineral density, and menstrual dysfunction. In 1992, the American College of Sports Medicine coined the disorder the “female athlete triad.” Read more.

WHEP scholar Meagan Clark

Awareness of Fertility and Contraception Issues Among Women With Rheumatologic Diseases
Presented at Drexel Discovery Day
Meagan Clark

Clinicians treating women with rheumatologic disorders must be aware of risks and complications surrounding fertility, contraception and pregnancy in their premenopausal patients. Many women discontinue immunomodulatory agents before or during pregnancy either due to a lack of research on the safety of the drug, a lack of understanding by the physician on current protocol or a lack of communication to or education of the patient by the physician. In addition, a large proportion of premenopausal women with rheumatologic disease report a lack of contraceptive counseling and have engaged in sexual practices with a significant risk of unintended pregnancy. Read more.

WHEP scholar Adam Elwood

Break-Even Analysis of Doula Support on Cesarean Section Reduction
Adam Elwood
Cesarean deliveries have been increasing in frequency over the past two decades. With each cesarean delivery, there is a possibility of developing co-morbidities and complications, as well as future cesarean sections, in addition to greater costs to the individual than vaginal deliveries. Multiple studies have shown that non-medical, continuous supportive care by doulas during labor decreases risk for cesarean deliveries and can decrease expenses for the patient. Cesarean rates have been shown to decrease significantly with doula support — as much as 10% overall, combined with fewer preterm births and low-birth-weight infants. Read more.

WHEP scholar Ashni Nadgauda

Effect of Gender/Estrogen on EGFR Mutant Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Presented at Drexel Discovery Day
Ashni Nadgauda

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer after breast cancer in women, after prostate cancer in men, and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. The proportion of lung cancer cases in women attributed to smoking is half that of those in men. Approximately 20% of women with lung cancer have never smoked, versus only 2-6% in men. In Asian populations, the rate of lung cancer in women who have never smoked is estimated at 60%-80%, in contrast to 10%-15% in men that have never smoked. Read more.

WHEP scholar Kathleen Nelson

Improving Conversation and Cooperation Within the Maternity Care System in the United States
Kathleen Nelson
Due to social, political and economic forces, the maternity care system in the United States has become polarized with western medical care and natural childbirth practices on opposite ends of the spectrum. Women who become pregnant and seek prenatal care usually must choose between types of providers such as obstetricians, midwives, doulas, acupuncturists, and so on. In the current moment, there is little to no communication or cooperation between these various types of providers when providing maternity care to patients, forcing women to choose between types of available maternity care instead of working with various types of providers to receive comprehensive and collaborative prenatal, perinatal and postnatal care. Read more.

WHEP scholar Imari Patel

Contribution of Risk Factors to the Increasing Incidence of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in South Asian Women
Imari Patel
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine abnormality in women, leading to a number of life-threatening and emotional stressors, such as increased cardiometabolic diseases, insulin resistance, obesity, hirsutism, infertility, depression and anxiety. Over 100 million women of reproductive age worldwide are affected by this syndrome, with a rise in incidence in rapidly developing urban environments in countries such as India, China and Korea. Read more.

Katherine Thompson, WHEP Scholar

Prevention of Morbidity in Individuals with a History of Male-to-Female Sex Assignment Surgery
Katherine Thompson
The transgender community is a vulnerable population at increased risk for a number of adverse health outcomes including surgical complications, development of cancers, and chronic disease. In addition to the psychosocial challenges associated with being transgender, these patients are also at increased risk for medical comorbidities that health care providers cannot prevent or manage unless they are aware of their patient’s transgender status. Male-to-female (MtF) transgender individuals are at risk for the same medical conditions as a biologic male at their age, in addition to the risks of taking estradiol hormone therapy. Likewise, female-to-male (FtM) transgender patients are at the same risks as a biologic female, in addition to the risks of taking testosterone. Health care providers can endeavor to prevent morbidity in MtF transgender patients who have undergone sex assignment surgery with a collaborative patient-physician relationship, routine medical management, and cancer screening. Read more.

WHEP scholar Krista Vadaketh

Why Are Thromboembolic Events More Common in Women With Atrial Fibrillation Than in Men?
Krista Vadaketh
Women with atrial fibrillation not only have an increased risk of stroke compared to men, but also experience more severe and disabling strokes. Factors that predispose women with atrial fibrillation to developing more thromboembolic events than their male counterparts include the pathophysiology of the condition (larger left atrial volumes, reduced atrial contractility, non-pulmonary vein triggers, increased parasympathetic responses, higher degree of fibrotic remodeling), modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors (e.g., hyperthyroidism, suboptimal blood pressure management), and differences in clinical presentation (atypical symptoms, such as weakness and fatigue are also more common in women) that may delay diagnosis and treatment. Read more.

WHEP scholar Karina Verma

Exploring Cultural Barriers to HPV Vaccination in South Asian American Women
Karina Verma
Attitudes regarding HPV vaccination vary globally and cross-culturally. Among South Asian American females, low rates of HPV vaccination may directly be influenced by cultural and religious expectations due to the vaccine’s misconceived association with sexual activity. The South Asian American population’s cultural beliefs include abstinence from premarital sexual behavior and a monogamous sexual relationship upon marriage. Read more.

Health Equity Scholars

Whep scholar Temi Adegoke

Racial Disparities in Cardiovascular Health Outcomes
Temi Adegoke
The existence of racial disparities and worse cardiovascular health outcomes among black Americans in comparison to whites is a well-known phenomenon. Blacks are two to three times as likely to die of preventable heart disease and stroke compared to their white counterparts. However, the typical explanation given for these disparities has focused on risk factors such as obesity, dietary habits and delays in seeking health care. Read more.

WHEP scholar Esieza Braimah

Ethical and Legal Considerations of Human Egg Donation
Esieza Braimah
Egg donation has been a controversial topic since its beginnings. The practice raises several ethical issues, especially as technology continues to advance. Egg donation is only lightly regulated, and those regulations that exist fall into two categories: safety testing and truth in advertising. Neither category includes informed consent or compensation. Egg donation may be on its way to becoming a “made to order” service based on prospective parents choosing specific traits from donors, possibly promoting eugenics and potentially fostering a system of inequality and injustice. Read more.

Natalie DiCenzo, WHEP Scholar

Indigenous Women, Sexual Assault and Healthcare Access
Natalie DiCenzo
Healthcare providers are in a unique position to advocate for Native women and survivors of abuse both on an individual and systemic level by recognizing the societal context as a factor that perpetuates violence. Learn more.

WHEP scholar Chelsea Salas

Weighing the Evidence for Treating Obesity
Chelsea Salas
In both societal and medical culture there is discrimination against overweight and obese individuals. Weight stigma stems from an uninformed understanding of how obesity develops. It presumes that obese individuals are lazy, unmotivated, and lack willpower to control their food intake – that they are undisciplined and less likely to adhere to treatment. Consequently, studies suggest that primary care providers may spend less time educating obese patients about their health, since they perceive it as a waste of time. Read more.

WHEP scholar Camille Singh

Barriers to Care for Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorder: Stigma, Criminalization and Unmet Needs
Camille Singh
Pregnant women with substance use disorders endure a unique, intense and pervasive type of stigma from multiple levels of society – from family and friends to government officials to health care professionals – a failure of moral judgment as well as a failure to adhere to societal expectations for their gender. Not only is the stigmatization itself a powerful deterrent to seeking help, but pregnant women also fear criminalization and loss of child custody if they seek treatment. Read more.

Previous WHEP Scholar Projects

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