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New Scholars Named to Promote Research into the Influence of Gender on Health

Traditionally, many health-related research projects focused only on males, assuming that females’ bodies would respond the same way to a given intervention or drug. But more often, scientists are uncovering important distinctions between men’s and women’s health, pointing to the need for dedicated attention to understand the intricacies of the differences.

The Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) program at Penn was founded in 2016 to address the disparity in health-research attention to women’s health and sex differences by supporting faculty interested in these areas. With funding from the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health and Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the program focuses particularly on bolstering the career development of junior faculty engaged in this vein of scientific work.

BIRCWH offers funding that enables select faculty to pursue pilot research projects on some area of sex differences or women’s health research. Penn Nursing’s Melanie Kornides, ScD, RN, FNP-BC, is one of the four junior faculty members who of have been announced as 2018 BIRCWH fellows.

Kornides is an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Health. Prior to joining Penn’s faculty, Kornides completed her postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. Kornides received a Sc.D. from Harvard and a master’s degree from George Mason University, both in epidemiology. She also received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Ohio State University and a master’s from the University of Michigan in community health nursing. 

Overall, Kornides’ research focuses on the utilization of big data to contextualize sex disparities in pediatric and women’s health. The research she plans to conduct while in the BIRCWH program seeks to address sex disparities in HPV-vaccination uptake. Assessing these disparities bears on women’s health, as improving vaccination coverage of adolescent boys will reduce HPV infections in the general population and HPV-related diseases and cancers for both females and males.

To read the entire University Communications article, please click here.

This article was written by Katherine Unger Baillie and it first appeared in Penn Today.