The 2022 Connors Center Annual Research Symposium was held at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on Nov. 29 in conjunction with the Brigham/Harvard Reproductive Outcomes of Stress & Aging (ROSA) Center, a National Institutes of Health Specialized Center of Research Excellence on Sex Differences. Over 100 attendees from the Connors Center, BWH, MGB and external community gathered for the first in-person event hosted by the Connors Center since 2019. Speakers included investigators and trainees from the ROSA Center and recipients of Connors Center awards and fellowships.

Daniel Grossman, MD, delivered the keynote address, “All Hands on Deck: Strategies to Maintain Access to Reproductive Healthcare Post-Roe.” Dr. Grossman is currently the director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a research program in the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at University of California, San Francisco, where he is also professor. During the symposium, he shared insight into the current status of reproductive health care access after the repeal of Roe v. Wade, including its disproportionate effects on people of color and individuals in rural, anti-choice areas. Dr. Grossman discussed the consequences of reduced abortion access leading to an increased rate of self-managed abortions and criminalization of patients. He shared strategies to meet increased demand for reproductive care in states with protective policies in response to these changes. Alisa Goldberg, MD, MPH, program director, Family Planning Fellowship, and Lydia Pace, MD, MPH, director of Women’s Health Policy and Advocacy and director of the Global Women’s Health Fellowship, provided introductory remarks and facilitated the Q&A session with Dr. Grossman.

Connors Center members then presented their research in a series of presentations and Q&As.

Session 1:

  • “Sex differences in characteristics, outcomes and treatment response with dapagliflozin across the range of ejection fraction in patients with heart failure: Insights from DAPA-HF and DELIVER,” presented by Wendy Wang, MD, First.In.Women fellow
  • “Physiologic and social stressors and health during the menopausal transition,” presented by Emily Oken, MD, MPH, ROSA Center project 2 co-investigator
  • “The action of melanocortins on Kiss1 neurons in the control of fertility in the female mouse,” presented by Rajae Talbi, PhD, ROSA Center pilot awardee

The proceeding Q&A session was moderated by JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, MACP.

Session 2:

  • “Brain-based outcomes in postmenopausal women with MDD,” presented by Katherine Burdick, PhD, IGNITE awardee
  • “Novel approaches using machine learning to investigate and predict hypertensive disorders of pregnancy,” presented by Vesela Kovacheva, MD, PhD, IGNITE awardee
  • “Codifying the right to abortion: Impact of the Massachusetts ROE Act on out-of-state referrals,” presented by Steffanie Wright, MD, Family Planning fellow

The proceeding Q&A session was moderated by Cindy Liu, PhD, director of Psychosocial Stress, Diversity and Health.

The symposium concluded with brief remarks from Annie Lewis-O’Connor, PhD, NP-BC, MPH, FAAN, introducing a project funded by the Lisa L. Leiden Fund for Research in Women’s Health Excellence. The collaborative, multidisciplinary project will analyze the effects of trauma-informed care on providers and patients alike. The collaborative aims to integrate nursing leadership in research and transformative programing.

Thank you to all speakers, moderators and attendees for supporting and engaging with the important research funded by the Connors Center and making this event a success!

Patricia Gallegos, MPH
Project Manager, Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology