Gender-Specific Health Research

There is a critical need for unbiased research examining gender-specific issues and diseases in order to improve health awareness; treatment outcomes; and access to quality, evidence-based healthcare. The mission of the Foundation for Female Health Awareness includes the mandate to support new and existing research projects relevant to women’s health and the health of other marginalized genders. We monitor and/or conduct industry-supported research regarding various drugs and devices specific to women’s health. Academic centers that FFHA has partnered with on research trials have included Brown, Cleveland Clinic, Medstar, Northwell Health, Northwestern, Stanford, The Christ Hospital, University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, Wake Forest University, and Yale. FFHA has the unique ability to play the important role of intermediary between industry and the researchers performing the study.

Additionally, we award research grants for projects focused on increasing gender-specific health education and awareness. Below is a list of current projects and ones that FFHA has funded in the past. FFHA is currently offering grants up to $2000 for independent researchers that seek to study gender-specific health issues. To apply for a grant, please complete this application form. If you have questions about our grant application process, email samantha@femalehealthawareness.org.

Current Research Grants

Perceptions of Maternal Mortality in Missouri

Karen L. Florio, DO, MPH; Saint Luke’s Hospital of the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The goal of this qualitative analysis is to assess the knowledge and perceptions regarding maternal mortality (etiologies, people affected, where medical information is obtained, etc) across generations in women living in Missouri. The hypothesis is that women in Missouri are not aware that maternal mortality is a problem in the state, nor do they understand the driver/etiologies/risk factors for maternal death. Researchers also hypothesize that women are not accessing medical information from reputable sources.

Clinical Evaluation of Fractional Bi-Polar Radio-Frequency for Symptoms of Vulvovaginal Atrophy

Mickey M. Karram, MD; Christ Hospital Cincinnati Ohio

The objective of this 12-month trial is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the MorpheusV Applicator for Symptoms of Vulvovaginal Atrophy.

Pilot study to evaluate the use of a bipolar radio-frequency device in the treatment of Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and Mixed Incontinence (SUI and Urge Incontinence)

Mickey M. Karram, MD; Christ Hospital Cincinnati Ohio

The purpose of this study is to conduct preliminary clinical safety and efficacy testing of a fractional radiofrequency device (RF SUI Treatment Device) for use in gynecology for the treatment of urinary incontinence, including stress urinary incontinence (SUI) the unintentional loss of urine due to activities like laughing, coughing, sneezing, lifting or exercise and mixed incontinence (SUI and urge incontinence). The primary objective is improvement from baseline to 3 months post treatment as documented in the Incontinence Quality of Life (IQOL) questionnaire. Secondary objectives are improvement from baseline to 3 months post treatment as documented by the following assessments: Voiding diary, Urosure test, MESA questionnaire, UDI-6 questionnaire, Investigator satisfaction and patient satisfaction PGI-I scale.

Previous Research Grants

Listed below are completed studies funded and administrated by FFHA, along with the corresponding publications.

Development and validation of the Value of Uterus (VALUS) instrument for women undergoing pelvic organ prolapse surgery: Currently, there are no validated instruments to quantify a woman’s valuation of her uterus. Thanks to the generous support of the FFHA grant, the VALUS instrument was developed as a 9-question instrument to measure the value placed on uterine preservation. This instrument was validated, and found to have high sensitivity and specificity for predicting whether a patient undergoes a uterine-preserving surgery. VALUS is the first instrument that can be used to measure uterine preferences. It can be used as a tool for shared medical-decision making both by patients and their surgeons.
 
Chang OH, Walters M, Yao M, Lapin B. Development and validation of the Value of Uterus (VALUS) instrument for women undergoing pelvic organ prolapse surgery. Special issue of American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology for Society of Gynecologic Surgeons 2021. Submitted for publication.

 

Comparison of Vaginal Laser Therapy to Vaginal Estrogen Therapy for vaginal dryness/vaginal atrophy (VELVET Trial): The purpose of this multi-center clinical trial is to compare the efficacy and safety of CO2 fractional vaginal laser treatment to the current standard treatment, vaginal estrogen therapy, for the treatment of vulvovaginal atrophy (i.e. vaginal dryness and inflammation associated with menopause). This study is actively enrolling new study participants. Participating sites include the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland OH, Washington Hospital Center, Washington DC, Christ Hospital, Cincinnati OH, Rhode Island Women’s and Infants Hospital, Providence, RI, Standford University, Standford CA, and Wake Forest Baptist Hospital, Winston Salem, NC.

Paraiso MFR, Ferrando CA, Sokol ER, Rardin CR, Matthews CA, Karram MM, Iglesia CB. A randomized clinical trial comparing vaginal laser therapy to vaginal estrogen therapy in women with genitourinary syndrome of menopause: The VeLVET Trial. Menopause. 2020 Jan;27(1):50-56. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001416. PMID: 31574047 Clinical Trial.

 

Vaginal and laparoscopic mesh hysteropexy for uterovaginal prolapse: a parallel cohort study (The VAULT Study): The purpose of this multi-center parallel cohort study was to compare the safety and efficacy of two surgical procedures for uterine prolapse: the laparoscopic sacral hysteropexy and the vaginal mesh hysteropexy. 153 women age 35-80 with uterine prolapse were enrolled from one of 8 clinical sites and received one of these two surgical procedures. Overall, both laparoscopic sacral hysteropexy and vaginal mesh hysteropexy resulted in similar outcomes 1 year after surgery with high rates of satisfaction. This study was awarded Best Surgical Paper at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Urogynecologic Society, Seattle, WA, Oct. 13-17, 2015.1.

Gutman RE, Rardin CR, Sokol ER, Matthews C, Park AJ, Iglesia CB, Geoffrion R, Sokol AI, Karram M, Cundiff GW, Blomquist JL, Barber MD.
Vaginal and laparoscopic mesh hysteropexy for uterovaginal prolapse: a parallel cohort study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Jan;216(1):38.e1-38.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.08.035. Epub 2016 Sep 3. PMID: 27596620.

 

A blinded multi-center randomized trial comparing TVT-SECUR “U” to the tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) for the surgical treatment of stress urinary incontinence (The SECURITY Trial): This multi-center clinical trial compared the retropubic midurethral sling (tension-free vaginal tape, TVT) to a single-incision mini-sling (TVT SECUR) for the treatment of female stress urinary incontinence. The mini-sling resulted in similar subjective cure rates to the TVT 1 year after surgery but in those women who were not cured, incontinence severity was greater after the mini-sling. This study was awarded the Best Clinical/Surgical Paper at the 2011 American Urogynecology Society Meeting and the 2011 International Urogynecologic Association Axel Ingelman-Sundberg Award for Best Abstract.

Barber MD, Weidner AC, Sokol AI, Amundsen CL, Jelovsek JE, Karram MM, Ellerkmann M, Rardin CR, Iglesia CB, Toglia M; Foundation for Female Health Awareness Research Network. Single-incision mini-sling compared with tension-free vaginal tape for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Feb;119(2 Pt 1):328-37. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e318242a849. PMID: 22270285.

 

Evaluation and Management of Vaginal Mesh Complications: This grant supported a multi-center retrospective cohort study of 347 women presenting to a tertiary care urogynecology practice for evaluation and management of complications after vaginal mesh surgery for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. Two hundred and sixty women in this study also completed a follow-up survey to evaluate their outcomes after medical or surgical management of their mesh complications. This grant resulted in the publication of two research papers:

Unger CA, Abbott S, Evans JM, Jallad K, Mishra K, Karram MM, Iglesia CB, Rardin CR, Barber MD. Outcomes following treatment for pelvic floor mesh complications. Int Urogynecol J. 2014 Jun;25(6):745-9. doi: 10.1007/s00192-013-2282-9. Epub 2013 Dec 7. PMID:24318564.

Abbott S, Unger CA, Evans JM, Jallad K, Mishra K, Karram MM, Iglesia CB, Rardin CR, Barber MD. Evaluation and management of complications from synthetic mesh after pelvic reconstructive surgery: a multicenter study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Feb;210(2):163.e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2013.10.012. Epub 2013 Oct 11. PMID:24126300.

 

Transobturator tape compared with tension-free vaginal tape for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence: a randomized controlled trial: To compare the safety and efficacy of the transobturator tape to tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) in the treatment of stress urinary incontinence in patients with and without concurrent pelvic organ prolapse.

Barber MD, Kleeman S, Karram MM, Paraiso MF, Walters MD, Vasavada S, Ellerkmann M. Transobturator tape compared with tension-free vaginal tape for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Mar;111(3):611-21. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e318162f22e. PMID: 18310363.

 

Medical Student Research Fellowship
FFHA provided a grant to support a year of research study for a student in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western University graduating class of 2012. This grant supported Sara Abbott MD’s medical school clinical research thesis titled “A Model to Predict Failure of Uterine Artery Embolization.” In this project advanced statistical modeling were used to develop a nomogram that physicians can use to predict treatment failure and success for an individual patient considering uterine fibroid embolization for symptomatic fibroids. This project also served as her thesis for a Masters of Science in Clinical Research.

Menu