Because most research has been conducted on men, researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center concede they know little about why women, especially minority women, are more likely than men to develop serious complications from such health issues as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
In addition, some conditions affect only women.
But UNMC researchers hope to find answers through a new women’s health research center.
Friday, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents unanimously approved the creation of the Nebraska Center for Women’s Health Research.
The Nebraska center will serve as a hub for women’s health research that will include outside organizations such as Susan G. Komen, Lozier Foundation and the Omaha Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
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“We know that sex and gender play really important roles in how health and diseases affect individuals. Understanding these differences will greatly improve health care for both women and men,” said John Davis, who is director of research and development for Nebraska Medicine’s Olson Center for Women’s Health. He will be the director of the new center.
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“Most diseases and conditions affect women differently than men,” said Davis, who will be the director of the new center. “Understanding these differences will greatly improve health care for both women and men.”
Davis said planning for the center began a couple of years ago and involved meetings between UNMC departments and colleges as well as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“Uniformly, we had a very positive response,” he said.
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Officials don’t envision any immediate need for new construction to accommodate the center. Documents state the center will be located in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology within the Durham Research Center on the UNMC campus.
“There are a lot of things with this center that will be done virtually in the various offices of the people that are interested in participating in women’s health research,” said Dr. Carl Smith, chief academic officer for Nebraska Medicine.
A little over $5 million for the center has been budgeted over the course of five years. Funding sources include the UNMC Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics; Olson Center for Women’s Health; Child Health Research Institute; College of Medicine Dean’s Office; and the office of the UNMC vice chancellor for research. Davis said officials also expect to receive grant support from the National Institutes of Health.
Now that regents have approved the center’s creation, Davis envisions it will be up and running quickly. Educational programs could begin this fall, and researchers could ramp up pilot projects then.
“We’re just excited to get the program off the ground,” Davis said. “I think we’re in line with everything the university here wants to do. We hope to establish it as a major program.”