Author Interviews, General Medicine, Orthopedics / 15.03.2017 Interview with: Darwin Chen, MD Assistant Professor, Orthopaedics Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai What is the background for this study? Response: Total hip and knee replacement surgery are among the most commonly performed orthopaedic procedures today. Although success rates are high, complications can occur and some may be preventable. The goal of our research was to assess the impact of gender on complications within the first 30 days after hip and knee replacement. (more…)
Author Interviews / 28.02.2017 Interview with: Amanda Mitchell PhD Postdoctoral researcher Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our study followed 80 pregnant women across the course of their pregnancy – throughout 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimesters. We examined whether women exhibited different levels of immune markers called cytokines based on fetal sex. We looked at this in two ways – levels of cytokines in the blood, and levels produced by a sample of immune cells that were exposed to bacteria in the laboratory. While women did not exhibit differences in blood cytokine levels based on fetal sex, we found that the immune cells of women carrying female fetuses produced more proinflammatory cytokines when exposed to bacteria. This means that women carrying female fetuses exhibited a heightened inflammatory response when their immune system was challenged compared to women carrying male fetuses. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Gender Differences / 27.02.2017 Interview with: Sean Notley, PhD. Postdoctoral Fellow School of Human Kinetics | École des sciences de l'activité physique University of Ottawa | Université d'Ottawa Ottawa ON What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Gender-differences in human heat loss (skin blood flow and sweating) have long been ascribed to innate differences between men and women. However, we believed that these were more related more to size than to gender, because most previous research compared average (larger) men with average (smaller) women. In our view, the size and shape (morphology) of an individual might be as important, if not more important, than gender in determining heat loss. When we matched men and women for body morphology, and when we studied those participants in tolerable conditions, we found that larger men and women were more dependent on sweating and less on skin blood flow, while smaller individuals were more reliant on skin blood flow and less on sweating. Moreover, as anticipated, gender differences in those heat-loss responses could be explained almost entirely by individual variations in morphology. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, JAMA, Stroke / 19.11.2016 Interview with: Catharina J. M. Klijn, MD Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Neuroscience Department of Neurology Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre Nijmegen, the Netherlands What is the background for this study? Response: The incidence of stroke is higher in men than in women. This difference attenuates with increasing age. Established risk factors for stroke, such as hypertension, cigarette smoking and ischemic heart disease are more prevalent in men but only partly explain the difference in stroke incidence. The contribution of oral contraceptive use and hormone therapy to stroke risk has been previously reviewed. We aimed to evaluate what is known on other female- and male specific risk factors for ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke incidence and stroke mortality through a systematic review and meta-analysis of 78 studies including over 10 million participants. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, BMJ, Gender Differences / 27.10.2016 Interview with: Tim Slade, PhD Associate Professor National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre University of New South Wales What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Historically, men have been more likely to drink alcohol than women and to drink in quantities that damage their health. However, evidence points to a significant shift in the drinking landscape with rates of alcohol use converging among men and women born in more recent times. In a bid to quantify this trend over time, we pooled data from 68 published research studies in 36 countries around the world. We looked at how the ratio of men’s to women’s alcohol use differed for people born in different time periods and found that the gap between the sexes consistently narrowed over the past 100 years or so. For example, among cohorts born in the early 1900s men were just over two times more likely than women to drink alcohol. Among cohorts born in the late 1900s this ratio had decreased to almost one meaning that men’s and women’s drinking rates have reached parity. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, Social Issues / 19.10.2016 Interview with: Adam L. Beckman Yale College, New Haven, CT (at the time this work was completed) Erica S Spatz MD MHS Assistant Professor, Section of Cardiovascular Medicine Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation Yale-New Haven Hospital Yale University School of Medicine What is the background for this study? Beckman: Despite the expansion of insurance coverage, young adults face major challenges to obtaining affordable healthcare. We suspected women may experience greater challenges than men — they often have lower income and less complete medical coverage than men, and care for multiple generations of family, and that this may in part explain why young women have worse outcomes following a heart attack as compared with similarly-aged men. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, Surgical Research / 11.09.2016 Interview with: Michael A. Gaglia Jr., MD, MSc, FACC, FSCAI Scientific Lead, Population Research Medstar Cardiovascular Research Network Interventional Cardiology Medstar Heart and Vascular Institute Washington, DC 20010 What is the background for this study? Response: Cardiovascular outcomes vary according to gender in a variety of disease states. For example, short-term mortality is higher among women presenting with an acute coronary syndrome in comparison to men. There is a similar trend for higher short-term mortality of women undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting, although this is in part due to a relatively higher burden of comorbidities. Female gender is also a well-established risk factor for bleeding complications after percutaneous coronary intervention. In regards to women undergoing surgical aortic valve replacement for severe aortic stenosis (AS), however, the data is equivocal; some studies suggest higher mortality for women, whereas others suggest improved survival for women. The emergence of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) as the preferred therapeutic option for patients with severe AS at high or extreme risk for surgery offered another opportunity to examine gender disparities in outcomes. The evidence base for the impact of gender upon TAVR, however, is still evolving. A recent meta-analysis suggested improved long-term survival among women after TAVR. And in general, previous studies also suggest more vascular and bleeding complications in women when compared to men. The goal of this study was relatively simple: to compare outcomes between women and men undergoing TAVR at a single center. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emory, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, Stem Cells / 07.09.2016 Interview with: Arshed A. Quyyumi MD; FRCP Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology Emory University School of Medicine Co-Director, Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute Atlanta GA 30322 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Circulating progenitor or stem cells were discovered in adults 15 years ago. We now know that they may be stimulated by injury or ischemia, and they go down in number and function with aging, particularly when aging is associated with risk factors. Women with chest pain despite normal coronary arteries are thought to have ischemia because of microvascular dysfunction. We found that these women, with the worst microvascular function (measured as coronary flow reserve), had higher levels of circulating stem or progenitor cells. This implies that the mild ischemia they are having during their normal daily life, leads to stimulation of their stem cells. Also, the vascular abnormality may be a stimulus for repair. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Education, Surgical Research / 03.09.2016 Interview with: Miss Hui-Ling Kerr SpR Trauma and Orthopaedics Department of Trauma and Orthopaedic Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol, UK What is the background for this study? Response: Gender inequality at consultant level in surgery has not improved despite greater opportunities for women and only a small proportion of women apply to become surgical trainees. We wanted to find out if the lack of female surgical role models acted as a deterrent to first year female junior doctors and final year medical students towards a career in surgery. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Calcium, Neurology / 19.08.2016 Interview with: Silke Kern, MD, PhD Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology Unit and Clinical Neurochemistry Laboratory Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology Sahlgrenska Academy University of Gothenburg Gothenburg, Sweden What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Calcium has an important role in ischemic neuronal cell death and atherosclerosis. Several studies suggest that increased serum calcium increases the risk for vascular events and worsens the outcome after stroke. Widespread ischemic neuronal cell death and atherosclerosis might lead to dementia. We therefore examined if Calcium supplementation is associated with development of dementia. Our study is the first to show a relationship between Calcium supplementation and increased risk for dementia in older women. This risk is mainly confined to women with cerebrovascular disease (history of stroke or presence of white matter lesions). (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Gender Differences, JCEM, Sleep Disorders / 04.07.2016 Interview with: Dr. Femke Rutters Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre Amsterdam, The Netherlands; EMGO+ Institute for Care Research What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In the past 10 years the interest in sleep as a possible cause for obesity/diabetes has risen. But data up until now used mainly self-reported sleep and simple measures of diabetes (related parameters), such as fasting glucose. A study on well-measured insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function was lacking. Such a study could provide more information on the pathophysiology. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Gender Differences / 16.06.2016 Interview with: Kathleen Fischer, PhD Department of Biology UAB | University of Alabama Birmingham Birmingham, AL What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Fischer: Aging is by far the greatest risk factor for most of the chronic, non-communicable diseases (e.g. cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes). By discovering the basic mechanisms responsible for aging we can find ways to extend healthy and productive life and reduce the burdens of chronic disease and disability experienced by individuals and society. Sex differences in longevity can provide novel insights into the basic biology of aging; however this aspect of aging has been largely ignored. Demographic data show that women outlive men in every society during every historical period and in every geographic area. In spite of this robust survival advantage, women suffer far greater morbidity late in life—a phenomenon described as the morbidity-mortality paradox. It is not clear whether this is a general mammalian pattern or something unique to humans. Research on sex differences in aging and age-related diseases in humans and a range of species will be crucial if we are going to identify the basic mechanisms responsible for the patterns we observe. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Gender Differences / 07.06.2016 Interview with: Sara E. Brownell PhD School of Life Sciences Arizona State University Tempe, AZ What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Brownell: Our group has been broadly interested in gender biases in introductory biology since we published a study that showed that women underperform on course exams and under participate in whole class discussions compared to men ( We were curious why women might be under performing on these course exams so in this new study, we examined characteristics of the exams to see if that had an impact. What we found was that women and men perform equally on questions that test basic memorization. However, when questions tested more higher-level critical thinking skills, women were not scoring as high as men. This happened even when we took into account the academic ability of the students - women and men who had the same ability coming into the class. We also found that students from lower socioeconomic statuses also underperformed on these higher-level critical thinking questions compared to students from higher socioeconomic statuses, again even when we took into account academic ability. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Gender Differences, Surgical Research / 04.05.2016 Interview with: Alison M. Fecher, MD Assistant Professor of Surgery Indiana University Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Fecher: It has long been known that female faculty are underrepresented in departments of surgery at U.S. medical schools. Our study wanted to identify obstacles women face in entering certain surgical subspecialties and in career advancement. We found that women are poorly represented in some of the most competitive subspecialties, including cardiothoracic and transplant surgery. We also found that women tend to advance more slowly up the career ladder, with many of them spending more years at the assistant professor level than their male counterparts. One reason for this may be that they tend to publish less peer-reviewed articles than male faculty; however, our results show that the publications of female faculty often has a greater impact on the field, as measured by citations and recentness of articles. (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Gender Differences, Kidney Disease / 28.04.2016 Interview with: A.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Judith Lechner Div. Physiology Medical University of Innsbruck Innsbruck Austria What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Lechner: Women are not just small men. Sex differences affect most, if not all the organ systems in the body. Over the past decades biomedical researchers have been mainly using male models. Therefore, there is a significant gap in knowledge of female physiology except for organ functions involved in reproduction. While the necessity to fill in these gaps has been advocated, our understanding of sex and gender differences in human physiology and pathophysiology is still limited. This holds especially true for the kidneys, e.g. while international registries show that fewer women than men are in need of renal replacement therapy due to end stage renal disease, the potentially underlying causes are still not known. The aim of our study was to find out, if hormone changes due to the female menstrual cycle would affect normal renal cells. For this purpose, urinary samples of healthy women of reproductive age were collected daily and analyzed for menstrual cycle-associated changes of marker proteins. Specifically, two enzymes (Fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase, Glutathione-S-transferase alpha) were measured, which are intracellular components of proximal tubular cells, a key population of renal cells. Upon cell damage, these enzymes are released into the urine, qualifying them as clinical markers for early detection of tubular injury. Since even in healthy persons low amounts of these enzymes can be detected in the urine, we used these marker proteins to analyze potential effects of the female hormone cycle on normal functioning of this cell population. As a result, we could detect transient increases of Fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase and Glutathione-S-transferase alpha correlating with specific phases of the female hormone cycle, namely ovulation and menses. This finding suggests that cyclical changes of female hormones might affect renal cell homeostasis, potentially providing women with an increased resistance against kidney damages. Thus, recurring changes of sex hormone levels, as during the natural menstrual cycle, might be involved in periodic tissue re-modeling not only in reproductive organs, but to a certain extent in the kidneys as well. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Gender Differences, Heart Disease / 28.04.2016 Interview with: Sherry L. Grace, PhD Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Science York University Sr. Scientist, Cardiorespiratory Fitness Team Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network Toronto Western Hospital Toronto, ON What is the background for this study? Dr. Grace: Cardiac rehabilitation is an outpatient chronic disease management program. It is a standardized model of care, comprised of risk factor assessment and management, exercise training, patient education, as well and dietary and psychosocial counseling. Patients generally attend two times a week for several months. Participation in cardiac rehab has been shown to reduce death and disability. This is a dose-response association, such that more cardiac rehab participation is associated with even less death, etc. Therefore, it is important that patients adhere to the program, or participate in all the prescribed sessions. No one has ever reviewed patient adherence to cardiac rehab in a systematic way. It has always been assumed that patients only attend about half of prescribed sessions. Also, many studies have shown that women attend fewer sessions than men. However, this has been known for some time, so we would hope that in the current era, this sex difference would not exist. No study has ever aggregated and analyzed sex differences in program adherence, so we set out to do this. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Kidney Disease, Transplantation, University of Pennsylvania / 22.04.2016 Interview with: Matthew Levine, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Transplant Surgery Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Levine: This work stemmed from a known finding that female mice tolerate kidney injury better than males and this is true of mice that share exactly the same genes.  Therefore, the gender difference was the driving factor.  My basic science laboratory works at the intersection between scientific discovery and clinical application and this led us to question whether the same phenomenon was true in humans and whether we could identify a way in which this could be used to improve injury tolerance above what is seen in untreated subjects.  What we found was that the hormonal environment seems to impact ischemia tolerance, with female environment being protective and the male environment worsening injury tolerance in ischemia models where blood flow is interrupted and then restored.  The kidneys seemed to adapt to take on the injury response of the host after transplantation, indicating that the differences were not forged into the kidney itself and therefore could be altered.  We then found that estrogen therapy improved kidney injury tolerance when given to female mice in advance of injury, but no effect was seen in male mice.  And most importantly, we found that in a large cohort of transplant recipients that female recipients had better injury tolerance after transplant than male recipients, as shown by ability to avoid dialysis in the first week after transplant, otherwise known as delayed graft function (DGF). This is a fairly major finding since it has not been observed in the literature despite several decades of transplant data being carefully studied. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, JACC, Women's Heart Health / 15.04.2016 Interview with: Dr. Neha J. Pagidipati Duke Clinical Research Institute Duke University School of Medicine Durham, North Carolina Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Pagidipati: Women and men experience coronary artery disease differently, and a great deal of literature has shown that these differences extend to the diagnostic performance of various noninvasive testing modalities. However, little is known about the sex-specific prognostic value of computed tomographic angiography (CTA) and functional stress testing. We used data from the recent PROMISE trial to address this question. The PROMISE trial enrolled 10,003 patients (53% women) with stable symptoms suggestive of coronary artery disease to a diagnostic strategy of CTA vs stress testing, and found no differences in outcomes overall or by sex. We found that in women, a CTA is less likely to be positive, but when it is positive, it appears to have greater predictive value for a future cardiovascular event (all cause death, myocardial infarction, or unstable angina hospitalization) than stress testing. In men, a stress test is less likely to be positive, and though stress testing trended towards being more predictive of future events, there was no statistically significant difference in the prognostic value of either test type. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, NYU, Women's Heart Health / 06.04.2016 Interview with: Nathaniel Smilowitz, MD Fellow, Cardiovascular Disease NYU Langone Medical Center MeicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Smilowitz: Myocardial infarction (MI), commonly known as a heart attack, is a leading cause of death worldwide.  In the majority of patients with MI, examination of the coronary blood vessels by angiography reveals an obstruction that limits blood flow to the heart muscle.  However, some patients develop MI with non-obstructive coronary arteries (MINOCA) at angiography.  This condition is identified more commonly in younger patients and women, and in prior studies, in-hospital death after MINOCA was lower than for MI with obstructive coronary artery disease (MI-CAD).  Despite favorable outcomes associated with MINOCA, young women paradoxically have overall higher in-hospital death after MI in comparison to younger men.  Although sex differences in post-MI mortality are known to vary with age, the interaction between age, sex, and the presence of obstructive coronary artery disease at angiography on death post-MI had not been previously established. In this study, we confirmed that in-hospital mortality is lower after MINOCA than MI-CAD and that women are more likely to have MINOCA than men.  No sex difference in mortality was observed among patients with MINOCA, but women of all ages had significantly higher mortality after MI-CAD than men.  With advancing age, mortality increased to a greater degree in patients with MI-CAD than MINOCA and in men vs. women. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Gender Differences / 19.02.2016 Interview with: John Tower, PhD Professor, Molecular and Computational Biology Program Department of Biological Sciences USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 90089-2910 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Tower: Possible interventions in aging that are currently being studied include alterations to the diet and also drugs that target the p53 and TOR pathways.  Our results show that these manipulations sometimes have opposite effects on survival in males versus females. In addition, our results show that the same “low-vitality” individuals in the population are susceptible to death caused by disease and to death caused by aging.  This is called the “Strehler-Mildvan” relationship, and these “low-vitality” individuals could be related to human frailty. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Mental Health Research, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 07.01.2016 Interview with: Silvia Sara Canetto, Ph.D., Professor Faculty in the Department of Psychology, and Affiliate Faculty in the Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research, Department of Ethnic Studies, and in the Human Development and Family Studies Department Colorado State University  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Canetto: In the United States, older men of European descent (so called white men) have significantly higher suicide rates than any other demographic group. For example, their suicide rates are significantly higher than those of older men of African, Latino or Indigenous descent, as well as relative to older women across ethnicities. Behind these facts there is a cultural story, not just individual journeys of psychological pain and despair. Colorado State University’s Silvia Sara Canetto has spent a large portion of her research career seeking to uncover cultural stories of suicide. A professor in the College of Natural Sciences’ Department of Psychology, Canetto adds a new chapter to that story in an article recently published in the journal Men and Masculinities. The article features a critical review of theories and research on suicide among older men. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Diabetes Care, Education, Gender Differences / 27.11.2015 Interview with: Marlene Øhrberg Krag , MD, MIH Department of Public Health University of Copenhagen, Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Krag: In this follow-up study we wanted to assess whether there was any difference in longterm treatment outcome of personally tailored diabetes care when comparing men and women. The "Diabetes Care in General Practice" trial included people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Patients were randomized to receive 6 years of either routine care or personally tailored care with regular follow-up, individualized treatment goal setting and continuing education of the participant general practitioners. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Krag: Following up the patients for 13 years after 6 years of intervention a significant reduction in all cause mortality and diabetes related death was seen for women but not men. This difference could not be explained by intermediate outcomes like HgbA1c alone, and is suggested to be based on a complex of biological, social and cultural issues of gender . Women accept disease and implement disease management more easily than men, whereas men may feel challenged by diabetes, demanding daily consideration and lifestyle changes. Furthermore the study provided attention and support, which the women reported they lack and this could provide an incentive to treatment adherence. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Gender Differences, NIH / 24.11.2015 Interview with: Aaron White, PhD Senior Scientific Advisor to the Director Office of the Director National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. White: Recent studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that alcohol use by women in the United States might be on the rise and that long-standing gender gaps in drinking and related consequences might be narrowing. Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, we found that differences in the drinking patterns of females and males ages 12+ narrowed between 2002 and 2012 for current drinking (drinking at least once in the last 30 days), number of drinking days per month, past year DSM-IV alcohol abuse, and past-year driving under the influence of alcohol. For instance, the percentage of women who drank in the previous 30 days rose from 44% to 48%, while for men the percentage decreased from 57% to 56%. Average drinking days per month increased for women from 6.8 to 7.3 days, but dropped for males from 9.9 to 9.5 days. Driving under the influence (DUI) declined for both, but less so for females (from 10.3% to 7.9%) than males (from 19.0% to 14.4%), thereby narrowing the gender gap for DUI. Analyses revealed additional changes within specific age groups in the population. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Duke, Education, Gender Differences, Heart Disease / 10.11.2015 Interview with: Pamela S. Douglas, MD, MACC, FASE, FAHA Ursula Geller Professor of Research in Cardiovascular Disease Duke University School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Douglas: The impetus for our study was the concern that cardiology as a profession might be enhanced by greater diversity. By not attracting women in larger numbers (9% of FACCs are female), our fellowships have incomplete access to the talent pool of outstanding residents, and we do not have a diverse group of clinicians to care for our increasingly diverse patient population, or of researchers to explore potentially important health care disparities. Our findings were twofold: first, job descriptions for men and women cardiologists are dramatically different. Men are much more likely to do invasive procedures while women are more likely to see patients and perform imaging/noninvasive tests.  While there were slightly more women working part time than men this was still rare, and the difference in number of days worked was just 6, across an entire year. The second finding was that there was a significant difference in compensation. Unadjusted, this was over $110, 000 per year; after very robust adjustment using over 100  personal, practice, job description and productivity measures, the difference was $37, 000 per year, or over a million dollars across a career. A separate independent economic analysis of wage differentials yield a similar difference of $32,000 per year. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, JAMA / 09.11.2015 Interview with: Dr. David Bluemke MD, PhD, MsB Director of Radiology and Imaging Sciences NIH Clinical Center Bethesda, MD  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bluemke: Heart disease is the most common reason for death and disability of adults in the United States and worldwide. This study evaluated 1,840 adults in six communities throughout the United States, ages 45-84. In normal adults, the heart is a muscle, but various injuries to the heart (the most severe being a myocardial infarction/ heart attack) occur over an individual’s lifetime. These injuries result in heart muscle being replaced by a scar composed of fibrous tissue. The main finding is that even in healthy, middle and older adults, about 1 in 12 adults in the U.S. have developed scars in the heart. Most of these (80%) are not detected by their doctor, or by other tests such as ECG. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Neurological Disorders, Radiology / 30.10.2015 Interview with: Lise Eliot PhD Associate Professor of Neuroscience Chicago Medical School Rosalind Franklin University North Chicago, IL 60064    Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Eliot: The hippocampus participates in many behaviors that differ between men and women, such as episodic memory, emotion regulation, and spatial navigation.  Furthermore, the hippocampus is known to atrophy in diseases such as depression, anxiety disorders, and Alzheimer's disease, all of which are more prevalent in women.  It is conceivable that a premorbid difference in hippocampal volume contributes to females' greater vulnerability.  In the scientific literature, the hippocampus is often said to be proportionally larger in females than males.  We set out to test this by doing a systematic review of the literature for hippocampal volumes in matched samples of healthy males and females, measured using structural MRI data collected from over 6000 participants of all ages. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Respiratory, Vaccine Studies, Vanderbilt / 11.10.2015

Annabelle de St. Maurice MD, MPH Pediatric Infectious Disease Fellow Vanderbilt Children's Interview with: Annabelle de St. Maurice MD, MPH Pediatric Infectious Disease Fellow Vanderbilt Children's Hospital  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. de St. Maurice: Susceptibility to certain infectious diseases appears to vary by gender. For example, males may be at increased risk of certain infections in childhood, including lower respiratory tract infections such as RSV, however females may have more severe infections, such as influenza, during pregnancy. Some early studies have suggested that males may be at increased risk of pneumococcal infections but this has not been confirmed. Furthermore, whether those potential gender differences remain after introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines is unknown. Invasive pneumococcal disease, which includes meningitis, bacteremic pneumonia and bacteremia/septicemia, is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States in children and adults. The 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) and the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) led to declines in invasive pneumococcal disease rates as well as eliminated racial disparities in regards to invasive pneumococcal disease rates. Our study sought to identify potential gender differences in the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease, and to determine the impact of vaccines on gender differences in the susceptibility to these diseases. We conducted a large study that used data from a population-based surveillance system of invasive pneumococcal diseases in Tennessee. This is part of a large CDC funded network of surveillance sites for these diseases. For our study, we identified patients with laboratory-confirmed invasive pneumococcal disease, and calculated the incidence of invasive pneumococcal diseases from 1998-2013 by gender. We also stratified the calculations by age groups and race, both well-known factors that affect the occurrence of invasive pneumococcal disease. Our study found that males had generally higher rates of invasive pneumococcal disease than females across age groups, regardless of race. Although introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines led to a significant decrease in invasive pneumococcal disease rates, males continued to have higher rates than females in several age groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Kidney Disease, Kidney Stones, Mayo Clinic / 30.03.2015 Interview with: Majuran Perinpam, BsC Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minn MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Response: The four key urinary factors: Calcium, magnesium, oxalate and uric acid are all implicated in kidney stone formation. Age and sex are known to influence kidney stone risk and type (1). However the effects of demographics on excretion of the four key urinary factors are not clear. Since diet alters urinary excretions of the four factors, adjusting for this is important. During metabolic evaluation of kidney stone patients, these urinary factors are often measured in 24-hour urine samples. However, often a single adult reference range is used and the effect of demographics is rarely taken into account during the interpretation of results. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Response: From a cohort of 709 healthy individuals we found a substantial influence of age and sex on the excretion of urinary calcium. Adjusted models showed that urinary calcium, magnesium, oxalate and uric acid were all less in females, possibly explaining why kidney stones are more dominant in males (1). Also a positive association of urinary uric acid excretion with Cystatin C eGFR, but not eGFR calculated from creatinine, suggests cystatin C to possibly being involved in inflammation and hyperuricemia. But further studies are needed to investigate this. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, UCSD, Women's Heart Health / 17.03.2015 Interview with: Raffaele Bugiardini, M.D. Professor of Cardiology University of Bologna Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bugiardini: Our analysis differs from previous reports of outcomes following STEMI because prior studies have not looked at sex differences in outcomes adjusted for time from symptom onset to hospital presentation and subsequent utilization of cardiac revascularization procedures, and rates of revascularization are typically significantly lower in women compared with men Our study is the first to look at the relationship between delays and outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences / 23.02.2015

photo_Vasileios Interview with: Dr. Vasileios Zikos Assistant Professor Research Institute for Policy Evaluation and Design (RIPED) and School of Economics University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) Bangkok, Thailand Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Zikos: Economic studies that look at subjective well-being typically focus on how and why life circumstances affect an individual’s life satisfaction. While such studies provide valuable insights on the average effects of life changes, they often find substantial variability in the way individuals react to life events. In this study we take a step toward identifying sources of individual heterogeneity by focusing on the link between physical or mental illnesses and health satisfaction and asking whether gender and personality can explain how people cope with becoming ill. Earlier studies in psychology suggest that personality traits might be relevant to health and health-related behaviors. This allows us to hypothesize what could be the specific role of personality traits when people confront being ill. Our study is based on data collected in the British Household Panel Survey, a national longitudinal data set from the United Kingdom. The survey asked people about their happiness and satisfaction with aspects of their life. It also asked about their physical and mental health and about their personalities, among other things. Our study separates people into three groups: with physical illness only, with mental illness only and with both physical and mental types of illness. Because earlier studies found evidence of personality differences between genders, we conduct our analysis separately for men and women. We found that illness implies a strong negative effect on the individual’s health satisfaction. Men are less affected by a single-symptom illness than women, but are more affected when more than one symptom is present. The number of symptoms doesn’t change how women are affected. Moreover, women with one of two distinct personality types are less affected by mental illness than all other personality types. The first personality type, high levels of agreeableness, experience high quality relationships in their lives. The second type, women with low levels of conscientiousness, have little need for achievement, order or persistence. For men, however, we did not find statistical evidence that personality affects how they cope with illness. (more…)