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The 2021 National Summit on the Health of Women was held virtually by the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on Thursday, June 17. Over 500 people registered for the event from 11 different countries: Brazil, Canada, China, Demark, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, the UK and across 29 states in the US. Attendees from the bioscience community including academics, NIH, regulatory, governmental, advocacy, biopharma and philanthropic sectors actively participated in many hours of the half-day program that featured lively discussions from leaders in the field of women’s health research.

The keynote address was delivered by Susan Hockfield, PhD, MIT President Emerita. Dr. Hockfield’s shared her professional journey to becoming the first woman and life scientist to lead MIT and discussed the importance of continuing to include women in science and academia. In her thought-provoking talk, Hockfield said “some women have made it – they’ve found their way along little footpaths. We need to turn footpaths into superhighways. We need to make it possible for more women to get their ideas into real technologies that will change the world.”

Remarks from Executive Director Hadine Joffe, MD, MSc, Sunil Eappen, MD, MBA, Interim President and Chief Medical Officer, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Jack Connors, Chair Emeritus, Mass General Brigham, set the tone for a meaningful and exciting day of programming and reminded attendees that advancing the health of women advances the health of us all.

Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services of Massachusetts introduced the plenary panel Macro-Influences on the Health of Women, which featured speakers from the FDA, NIH, and biopharma and was hosted by Connors Center Executive Director Hadine Joffe, MD, MSc. Panelists Kaveeta Vashisht, MD, PharmD, Associate Commissioner for Women’s Health; Director, Office of Research on Women’s Health, FDA, Janine Clayton, MD, FARVO, Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health; Director, Office of Research on Women’s Health, NIH and Yasmean Wahdan, MD, Vice President for US Medical Affairs, Women’s HealthCare, Bayer Pharmaceuticals discussed the critical components of health that exist outside of the doctor-patient relationship and shared their insights and priorities in advancing the health of women through the lens of their respective organizations.

JoAnn Manson, MD, MPH, DrPH spoke about several large-scale studies of women’s health led or co-led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and highlighted how the inclusion of digital technology in clinical trials is advancing the health of women.

Carolee Lee, Founder and CEO of AccessCircles and WHAM! discussed the economic impact and importance of including women in biomedical research. She highlighted findings from the WHAM! Report which showed that advancing the health of women has fundamental implications for the economic growth of our society. She said “when it comes to keeping our economy healthy, we are often using analyses and data that do not apply to half of the population, the driving force and engines of the global economy. We need more research dollars and investment in companies focused on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that affect women disproportionately.”

Concurrent facilitated sessions were introduced by Charlotte Owens, MD, Head of R&D Center for Health Equity and Patient Affairs at Takeda, who discussed the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and patient-centered approaches in biomedical research to advance the health of women.  The breakout sessions showcased groundbreaking research and expertise on women’s health research.

 Session A: Toward Women-Centric Care: How to Achieve Sex and Gender Inclusion in Biomedical Research and Clinical Care was hosted by Primavera A Spagnolo, MD, PhD, and featured Yesmean Wahdan, MD, Barbara Bierer, MD, and Deb Bartz, MD, MPH. This session discussed current efforts, challenges and strategies that should be developed and implemented across the bioscience ecosystem to ensure that the specific needs of women are ‘put at the center’ of the healthcare women receive. The session also focused on strategies to ensure adequate inclusion of women in clinical trials, incorporating women’s needs in the drug/device development process and educating physicians in addressing women’s health needs for the increased inclusion of women in clinical research and implications for clinical care.

Session B: Innovating and Investing for the Health of Women was hosted by Jennifer Griffin, PhD and included Chris Coburn, Alice Zheng, MD, MBA, MPH, Tracy Warren, MBA, and Alicia Chong Rodriguez, MSc. This session gathered leading investors, entrepreneurs and representatives from MA government, venture capital, digital health and consulting firms to discuss how the field of women’s health technology is expanding. Speakers discussed the role of women in promoting this field and the challenges associated with generating investments.

Session C: Digital Innovations for Women’s Health Research highlighted the benefits that digital innovations offer to women’s health research. Speakers Shruthi Mahalingaiah, MD, MSAnne Marie Jukic, PhD, MSPH, and Chris Curry, MD, PhD discussed the process leading to the Apple Women’s Health Study and how these kinds of collaborations and approaches are transforming how we study women.

Session D: Wins for Women: Partnering Across Sectors was hosted by Seema Basu, PhD and highlighted strategies, approaches, advantages, and challenges of industry-academia partnerships and their role in advancing the health of women. Panelists included Steve Kanes, MD, PhD and Jamie Maguire, PhD and showcased a case study from Sage Therapeutics, Inc. and Tufts University School of Medicine that illustrated the journey starting with preclinical research and leading to the Sage-Zulresso clinical trial approved by the FDA.

Following the concurrent sessions, the Roundtable of Research Leaders in the Health of Women, introduced by Paul Anderson MD, PhD, Sr. VP of Research and Education and Chief Academic Officer, gathered faculty members of Brigham and Women’s Hospital: This Roundtable was hosted by Tanya Laidlaw, MD and included panelists Scott Solomon, MD, Cynthia Morton, PhD and Lindsey Baden, MD who discussed how their groundbreaking research is advancing the health of women.

Throughout the day, attendees learned more about the First.In.Women Precision Medicine Platform, the Connors Center’s flagship program that advances the inclusion and specific investigation of women in the development and utilization of new drugs, devices and digital therapeutics.

Senator Karen Spilka highlighted Massachusetts’ commitment to the life sciences enterprises and emphasized the importance of health equity in our state. Senator Spilka announced the inaugural First Look Award, a pilot award program in partnership with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, and Caroline Cunningham-Young, Co-Chair of the Women’s Health Advisory Board, introduced our three IGNITE pilot award recipients.

Thank you for your interest and engagement in the Connors Center National Summit on the Health of Women! Together, we can commit to advancing the health of women and change the status quo. We thank you for your support of our mission.

Agenda

12:00pm – 5:30pm

12:00 – 12:15

Welcome & Opening Remarks
  • Jack Connors, Chair Emeritus, Mass General Brigham
  • Sunil Eappen, MD, MBA, Interim President and Chief Medical Officer, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Hadine Joffe, MD, MSc, Executive Director, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

12:15 – 12:35

Understanding Women in Health Research: Who Is Paying the Price?
  • Carolee Lee, CEO and Founder, WHAM!

12:35 – 12:40

Public Official Remarks
  • Marylou Sudders, MSW, Secretary of Health and Human Services of Massachusetts

12:40 – 1:30

Macro-Influences on the Health of Women

This session will feature three key players in the bioscience ecosystem: the NIH, the FDA, and biopharma who will share their insights and priorities in advancing the health of women.

  • Speakers:
    • Janine Clayton, MD, FARVO, Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health; Director, Office of Research on Women’s Health, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    • Kaveeta Vasisht, MD, PharmD, Associate Commissioner for Women’s Health at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    • Yesmean Wahdan, MD, Vice President for US Medical Affairs, Women’s HealthCare, Bayer Pharmaceuticals
  • Moderator:
    • Hadine Joffe, MD MSc, Executive Director, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

1:30 – 1:35

Introduction to the First.In.Women Precision Medicine Platform

1:35 – 1:45

Recent Innovations and Digital Technology in Brigham and Women's Health Cohorts
  • JoAnn Manson, MD, MPH, DrPH, Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

1:45 – 1:55

Break

1:55 – 3:00

Concurrent sessions

Summit attendees will participate in one of four interactive facilitated sessions:

  • Introduction by Charlotte Owens, MD, Head of R&D Center for Health Equity and Patient Affairs, Takeda

SESSION A: TOWARD WOMEN-CENTRIC CARE: HOW TO ACHIEVE SEX AND GENDER INCLUSION IN BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH AND CLINICAL CARE

The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach has historically dominated biomedical research and clinical care. This session is designed to provide practical examples and suggest impactful approaches and actions that can be taken by researchers, clinicians and educators to include female-specific and differentiating factors in clinical research, drug and digital technology development, medical education and clinical care.

This session is co-organized with Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Premier Champion Sponsor for the National Summit on the Health of Women

  • Hosted by Primavera Spagnolo, MD, PhD, Scientific Director, First.In.Women Precision Medicine Platform, Connors Center for Women’s Health & Gender Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Yesmean Wahdan, MD, Vice President for US Medical Affairs, Women’s HealthCare, Bayer Pharmaceuticals
  • Barbara Bierer, MD, Faculty Director, Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Deb Bartz, MD, MPH, Director of Education, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

SESSION B: INNOVATING AND INVESTING IN THE HEALTH OF WOMEN

This session will gather leading investors, entrepreneurs and representatives from MA government, venture capital, digital health and consulting firms to discuss how the field of women’s health technology is expanding. Speakers will discuss the role of women in promoting this field and the challenges associated with generating investments.

  • Speakers:
    • Alicia Chong Rodriguez, MSc, Co-Founder and CEO, Bloomer Tech
    • Chris Coburn, Chief Innovation Officer, Mass General Brigham Innovation
    • Tracy Warren, MBA, Co-Founder & CEO, Astarte Ventures
    • Alice Zheng, MD, MBA, MPH, Engagement Manager, McKinsey & Company
  • Moderator:
    • Jennifer Griffin, PhD, VP, Industry Strategy and Investments, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

SESSION C: DIGITAL INNOVATIONS FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH RESEARCH

This session will highlight the benefits that digital innovations offer to women’s health research. Speakers from industry, academia, and government will discuss on the process leading to the Apple Women’s Health Study and how this kind of collaborations and approach may transform how we study women.

  • Speakers:
    • Christine Curry, MD, PhD, Health Team, Apple
    • Anne Marie Jukic, PhD, Principal Investigator, Fertility and Reproductive Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH
    • Shruthi Mahalingaiah, MD, MS, co-Principal Investigator, Apple Women’s Health Study, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

SESSION D: WINS FOR WOMEN: PARTNERING ACROSS SECTORS

This session will highlight strategies, approaches, advantages, and challenges of industry-academia partnerships and their role in advancing the health of women. We will showcase a case study with our panelists from Sage Therapeutics, Inc. and Tufts University School of Medicine that will illustrate the journey starting with preclinical research and leading to the Sage-Zulresso clinical trial approved by the FDA.

Sage Therapeutics is a Champion Sponsor for the National Summit on the Health of Women.

  • Speakers:
    • Seema Basu, PhD, Market Sector Leader, Mass General Brigham Innovation
    • Steve Kanes, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, Sage Therapeutics
    • Jamie Maguire, PhD, Kenneth and JoAnn G. Wellner Professor in Neuroscience, Tufts University School of Medicine

3:00 – 3:10

First.In.Women Testimonial

3:10 – 3:55

Roundtable of Research Leaders in the Health of Women

Advances in basic science, enrollment of women in clinical trials, and novel therapeutics

  • Hosted by Tanya Laidlaw, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Scott Solomon, MD, Professor of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Cynthia Morton, PhD, Professor of of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Lindsey Baden, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Introduction by Paul Anderson, MD, PhD, Sr. VP of Research and Education and Chief Academic Officer, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

3:55 – 4:05

First.In.Women Testimonial

4:05 – 4:10

Public Official Remarks
  • Senator Karen E. Spilka, JD, President, Massachusetts State Senate

4:10 – 4:25

Awards Program with Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
  • Presented by Kenneth Turner, President and Chief Executive Officer, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, and Caroline Cunningham Young, Co-Chair, Women’s Health Advisory Board, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

4:25 – 5:00

Keynote Address: Changing the World for Women

Susan Hockfield, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Emerita

  • Introduction by Cindy Liu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

5:00 – 5:15

Concluding Remarks & Call to Action
  • First.In.Women Testimonial
  • Hadine Joffe, MD, MSc, Executive Director, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Keynote Speaker
Speakers
Awards Ceremony

The Awards Ceremony will announce the First Look and IGNITE Awards. The First Look Awards are a collaboration between the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and the Connors Center’s First.In.Women Precision Medicine Platform, supporting translational research at Massachusetts research institutions that advance our understanding of sex and gender differences and diseases or conditions that affect women exclusively, predominately, or differentially. The IGNITE Awards advance our understanding of female-specific and sex-differentiated effects in novel therapeutics. IGNITE investigations leverage the First.In.Women Precision Medicine Platform to shape the scientific focus of the study and to assess project goals, milestones and deliverables to ensure that the emerging clinical translation remains aligned with the First.In.Women mission. IGNITE research includes basic, translational, and clinical research advancing therapeutic strategies using drugs, devices, and digital therapeutics.

Presenters:

  • Kenneth Turner
  • Caroline Cunningham Young
2021 First Look Awardee

To be announced!

2021 IGNITE Awardees
Vasela Kovacheva, MD

Vesela Kovacheva, MD PhD, Attending Anesthesiologist, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Assistant Professor of Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School

    • “Development of Novel Algorithm for Prognostication and Therapeutic Decision Support in Pregnant Patients with Severe Hypertension”
    • Kovacheva is developing a novel algorithm to provide decision support to aid physicians in selecting the best drug in the optimal dose and predict the treatment response for pregnant patients with severe hypertension.

Primavera A Spagnolo, MD PhD, Scientific Director, First.In.Women Precision Medicine Platform, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

    • “Investigating Demographic Knowledge, Attitudinal, and Accessibility Factors Influencing Health Experiences and Behaviors and Clinical Trials Participation in US Women”
    • Spagnolo will conduct a survey study to assess knowledge, attitudinal, and accessibility factors influencing health behaviors, medication use, and participation in clinical research in US women as identified by women themselves.
2021 IGNITE Cardiovascular Awardee

To be announced!

Advisory Committee

The Summit Advisory Committee consists of key experts from across the academic and biopharma ecosystem.

Paul Anderson, MD, PhD

Scientific Advisory Board Member, Connors Center for Women’s Health & Gender Biology

Senior Vice President, Research and Education, Chief Academic Officer

Associate Chief, Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy

K. Frank Austen Professor of Medicine

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Academic Dean

Mass General Brigham

Lindsey Baden, MD

Director, Center for Clinical Investigation

Associate Professor of Medicine

Harvard Medical School

Deborah Bartz, MD, MPH

Director of Education, Connors Center of Women’s Health and Gender biology

Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Seema Basu, PhD

Market Sector Leader

Mass General Brigham HealthCare Innovation

Susan Blumenthal, MD, MPA

First Deputy Assistant for Women’s Health

Rear Admiral (ret.)

Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General

Edward Boyer, MD, PhD

Director of Academic Development, Department of Emergency Medicine

Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Tanuja Chitnis, MD

Professor of Neurology

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Director, Mass General Brigham Pediatric MS Center

Massachusetts General Hospital

Janine Clayton, MD

Director, Office of Research on Women’s Health

Associate Director of Research on Women’s Health

National Institute of Health

Caroline Cunningham Young

Women’s Health Advisory Board Co-Chair

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Trung Do, MBA, MA

Scientific Advisory Board, Connors Center for Women’s Health & Gender Biology

Vice President, Business Development

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Mass General Brigham HealthCare Innovation

Hanna Eilken, PhD

Strategic Alliance Manager

Bayer Pharmaceuticals

Maria Teresa Ferretti, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

Women’s Brain Project

Jennifer Griffin, PhD

Vice President, Industry Strategy and Investments

Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

Anula Jayasuriya, MD, PhD, MBA

Founder and Managing Director

EXXclaim Capital

Bernie Jones, MEd

Vice President of Public Policy

Chief of Staff

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Ian Krop, MD, PhD

Associate Chief, Division of Breast Oncology, Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers

Director, Clinical Research for the Breast Oncology Program

Associate Professor of Medicine

Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Harvard Medical School

Carolee Lee

Founder & CEO

AccessCircles

JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH

Scientific Advisory Board Member, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology

Chief of the Division of Preventative Medicine

Professor of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology

Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women’s Health

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Beth Martignetti

Women’s Health Advisory Board Member

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Michelle O'Donoghue, MD, MPH

Cardiovascular Medicine Specialist

Associate Professor of Medicine

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Lydia Pace, MD, MPH

Director of Women’s Health Policy and Advocacy, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology

Associate Professor of Medicine

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Antonella Santuccione Chadha, PhD

Co-Founder & CEO

Women’s Brain Project

Sebastian Schneeweiss, MD, ScD

Chief, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology & Pharmaeconomics, Department of Medicine

Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Janet Rich-Edwards, ScD, MPH

Director of Lifecourse Epidemiology, Connors Center of Women’s Health and Gender Biology

Associate Professor of Medicine

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Farah Shafi, MD

Deputy Medical Director

Allways Health Partners

Tee Taggart

Women’s Health Advisory Board Member

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Jenny Toolin McAullife

Women’s Health Advisory Board Co-Chair

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Yesmean Wahdan, MD

VP US Medical Affairs

Women’s Healthcare at Bayer Pharmaceuticals

Tracy Warren, MBA

Managing Partner

Astarte Ventures

Jamie White, MS

Health Science Policy Analyst

National Institute of Health

Nicole Woitowich, PhD

Associate Director, Women’s Health Research Institute

Northwestern University

Gwill York

Women’s Health Advisory Board Co-Chair

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

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For additional information about sponsorship, engagement or partnership opportunities, please contact Winnie Ng, Project Manager at WTNG@bwh.harvard.edu.
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For questions about our upcoming Summit, email ConnorsCenter@bwh.harvard.edu

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