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Med School Receives Millions in Grants for Improving Women’s Health


UNR School of Medicine
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Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced today a list of projects designated to improve women’s health.

The funding is part of nearly $8 million in settlement funds to the University of Nevada School of Medicine and University Medical Center in Southern Nevada, Laxalt said. “The funds resulted from a settlement reached in 2014 announced by the prior attorney general with Pfizer pharmaceutical company who unlawfully promoted certain postmenopausal hormone therapy medications.

“Over the course of a five-year period, $3.8 million will be distributed to the School of Medicine faculty in Reno and Las Vegas, while the remaining funds will be made available to the University Medical Center.”

Laxalt said that the settlement funds will benefit women’s health.

“I am excited to see how our state’s understanding and treatment of these issues will be enhanced with these funds,” he said.

The following is a list of funded projects at UNR:

  • Iain Buxton, Pharm.D., pharmacology department chair, purchased a super-resolution microscope that enables scientists to study subcellular structures in detail using fluorescence imaging. Being the first of its kind in Nevada, the microscope will assist Buxton with his research involving breast cancer and pre-term birth.
  • Heather Burkin, Ph.D., of the pharmacology department, plans to use the funds to test her hypothesis that certain proteins may regulate uterine contractions, thereby affecting birth timing.
  • Ruben Dagda, Ph.D., also of the pharmacology department, will use the funding to examine possible connections between Alzheimer’s disease in women and the increase in hormone levels from use of estrogen-based hormone therapy.
  • Dan Spogen, M.D., family medicine chair, will use the funding to promote the use of screening guidelines for women’s health. He proposes the development of a patient application that will reduce confusion in patients stemming from conflicting information on frequency and need for various screening tests, such as pap smears and breast examinations.
  • Vani Dandolu, M.D., obstetrics and gynecology chair, plans to establish a Women’s Heart Center to improve the transition of care for women admitted to the hospital with heart disease and to identify women with high risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Elissa Palmer, M.D., family medicine chair, plans to use money from the settlement to develop the Clinical Health Assessment and Promotion Program to address women’s health issues, specifically preventative health care, in the subpopulation of women with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
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