|Integrated biosciences researcher Darlene Taylor is the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Distinguished Professor at NCCU.|
A conference titled “A Case for Women’s Health” will take place Saturday, March 11, 2017, to examine current research and the status of new treatments for uterine fibroid tumors that disproportionately impact African-American women.
Speakers will include U.S. Rep. Louis Slaughter of New York, who was instrumental in establishing the Women’s Health Office at the National Institutes of Health; Jim Segars, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University, who specializes in research on uterine fibroids and other reproductive disorders; and Darlene K. Taylor, Ph.D., who researches new therapies for uterine fibroids as the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Distinguished Endowed Professor at NCCU. The keynote address will be given by Tanika Gray, founder of the The White Dress Project and a uterine fibroid patient.
“Nearly half of all women – and up to 80 percent of African-American women – will be diagnosed with the condition at some point in their childbearing years,” Taylor said. “When uterine fibroids occur, they often cause excessive bleeding, pain and pressure affecting normal bowel and bladder function, and in some cases pregnancy complications or infertility, severely impacting the lives of patients.”
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that occur most often in women ages 20 to 40. Hysterectomy has been the standard treatment, but the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that up to three-quarters of those procedures are not medically necessary.
Researchers at NCCU and elsewhere are working to develop and promote less invasive ways of dealing with the disease, said Taylor, who worked with students at NCCU to pioneer the development of a drug-delivery system that could provide alternative treatment options for women. This NCCU-led research will be presented at the conference, along with several other new developments.
This is the second year for the conference made possible by a $200,000, two-year grant from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. to support Taylor’s integrated biosciences research on uterine fibroid tumors. The sorority awards the grant biennially to a historically black college or university (HBCU) for teaching or research. Taylor is partnering with the Campion Fund of the Phyllis and Mark Leppert Foundation for Fertility Research to host the conference that will take place from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the headquarters of nonprofit MDC, 307 W. Main St. in Durham.
The public is invited to attend the conference at no charge. Preregistration is required, however. To pre-register, visit Eventbrite.
Because African-American women develop fibroids at much younger ages that do Caucasian women, there is a greater chance that the disease will impact fertility, Taylor said. The standard treatment of hysterectomy is not the best choice for patients who still wish to have children.
“Women need more information about their choices so they know what options they have when it’s time to make a decision about treatment,” Taylor said. “We are also trying to focus on public policy and expanding the types of treatments approved for coverage by insurance.”
Topics addressed during the conference will include current and potential new treatments, details of clinical trials, and how to identify the best treatment for individual patients.
Other speakers on the agenda include:
• Erica E. Marsh, M.D., University of Michigan bioengineering professor who researches uterine fibroids and their progression.
• Janet McCauley, senior medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
• Angel Nieves, M.D., obstetric and gynecological specialist at Duke Health.
• Phyllis Leppert, M.D., Ph.D., president of The Campion Fund and emerita professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University.