Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health Hosts Female Focus Symposium

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Former First Lady Laura W. Bush

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health presented the “Female Focus: Differences Matter” women’s health symposium to bring attention to the importance of personalized medicine and highlight medical differences between men and women that are critical to health and longevity with regard to heart disease, hormones and brain health.


The Fort Worth symposium, held in April, was the idea of Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price who developed the city’s ongoing FitWorth initiative and announced in 2014 that Fort Worth would join the Blue Zone Project as part of her Healthiest City Initiative. Price explained that the focus of her health and wellness campaign is not to force people to do anything, but to encourage people toward a healthy lifestyle by creating easy options.


Former First Lady Laura W. Bush welcomed the audience and encouraged women to take control of their health. She emphasized the importance of women taking time for themselves, even though they are very busy caring for their families and careers.


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Wayne Isom, M.D.

Four keynote speakers spoke on health topics related to women’s health and sex and gender medicine. Wayne Isom, M.D., chairman emeritus of cardiothoracic surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center, presented “Focus on the Heart,” which was a heart health lecture targeted towards women and emphasizing the critical importance of preventing heart disease, rather than treating it. 


“You want to avoid seeing me, the surgeon,” Isom said. “You can avoid most risk factors, such as smoking and weight. If you do require medication, though, one important thing is the differences between men and women.”


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Meharvan “Sonny” Singh, Ph.D., (right) and Rebecca Cunningham, Ph.D. (left)

The second keynote presentation by University of North Texas Health Science Center’s Meharvan “Sonny” Singh, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and professor of pharmacy and neuroscience, and Rebecca Cunningham, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Neurological Disorders, was “Focus on Hormones and the Brain.” They discussed in detail the effects of hormones like estrogen and testosterone, which extend beyond their effect on individuals’ reproductive function. Interestingly, these hormones or a lack of them can have significant consequences for brain health. 


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Marjorie Jenkins, M.D.

Speaking on the topic of “Focus on Sex and Gender: Differences Matter” was fellow keynote speaker Marjorie Jenkins, M.D., Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health chief scientific officer and director of medical initiatives and scientific engagement within the Food and Drug Administration Office of Women’s Health. Jenkins explained that medications prescribed to women are often studied in men. She explained that the differences between men and women are important, and the sex and gender medicine research funded by the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health is critical to understanding how these differences affect personalized medicine. 


“Women are more likely than men to have adverse reactions to prescription drugs,” Jenkins explained. “In fact, eight out of 10 medications pulled from the market show toxic effects in women. Yet, most drugs do not have different recommended dosages depending on a patient’s gender.” 


The Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s was established in August 2007 to pioneer a new approach to women’s health care that would consider the many differences between men and women that affect their health. Since its establishment, the institute has funded research projects in women’s health and sex and gender medicine; organized community events, such as GiRL Power and Girls Night Out; and provided breast and cervical cancer screening for women in underserved Texas populations. 



“The impact of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health continues to grow with events like these across the State of Texas,” said Connie Tyne, executive director of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health. “We work to make these communities and the world healthier by raising money for services in these areas and funding groundbreaking research that will benefit women everywhere.”


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