Public Release: 

Constance A. Howes Women's Health Innovation Research Fund awards grants

Three Women & Infants researchers receive awards

Care New England

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, has awarded three approximately $25,000 grants from the Constance A. Howes Women's Health Innovation Research Fund. The research fund, which has raised more than $400,000, was established in 2014 with contributions from more than 150 donors to honor former hospital president Constance A. Howes and to support research studies that advance women's health and gender-based research.

Awardees are Women & Infants researchers Valery Danilack, MPH, PhD, research associate in the Division of Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Paul DiSilvestro, MD, director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; and Niharika Mehta, MD, obstetric internist in the Center for Obstetric and Consultative Medicine.

The team from Dr. Danilack's proposal, "A Qualitative Study of Experiences and Preferences with Labor Induction," will conduct qualitative interviews of patients and providers to elucidate their experiences and preferences in regard to the labor induction process.

Dr. DiSilvestro's grant will enable him to continue his work, "miRNA Biomarkers for Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer." MicroRNAs (miRNAs) represent a promising breakthrough in both early detection and targeted treatment in epithelial ovarian cancer, the leading cause of mortality among all gynecologic malignancies.

Dr. Mehta will work with co-primary investigator Isabelle Malhame, MD, obstetric medicine fellow. Their project, "A Risk Assessment Tool for Cardiovascular Severe Maternal Morbidity," aims to develop a risk assessment tool that will allow clinicians to identify those women at highest risk of developing cardiovascular severe maternal morbidity during pregnancy and after delivery.

The three awardees, selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants, presented their projects to a Donor Advisory Committee at Women & Infants. The proposals were scored based on the projects' relevance to women's health and gender-based research, the potential for advancing knowledge and care models related to women's health, innovation and creativity, team strength and synergy, and plan and potential for research support from external sponsors.

The overall merit of the research projects was evaluated by a Scientific Advisory Committee and were peer reviewed and scored. Finalists then made a presentation to the Donor Advisory Committee.

Susan Mouradian, chief philanthropy officer at Care New England, said, "The Committee had intended to award two projects, but was so impressed by the innovation and promise of all three projects that donors Anne and Michael Szostak stepped up with a significant gift to ensure that all three projects could be funded this year. Thank you to the Szostaks and to all of the donors to the Constance A. Howes Fund."


About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation's leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women's medicine, Women & Infants is the ninth largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children's Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country's largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation's first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation's only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute's Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.

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