The University of South Florida Women’s Health Collaborative held its sixth annual Leading the Way Awards Luncheon during National Women’s Health Week at the Bryan Glazer JCC. The annual luncheon, sponsored by PNC Bank, sold out with more than 300 leaders and health researchers in attendance and raised over $80,000 to help improve the health of women in the Tampa Bay community and beyond. In partnership with USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy, the Women’s Health Collaborative awarded around $50,000 in research seed grants and recognized past USF President, Betty Castor, as the 2019 Remark-a-Bull Award Honoree for her work in advocating for women’s health.
2019 Remark-a-Bull Award Honoree: Betty Castor
Catherine Lynch, associate vice president for women’s health and faculty development at USF Health, presented Betty Castor with the 2019 Remark-a-Bull Award for her many years of service to women’s health. Castor is recognized as one of Florida’s most accomplished women in politics and a strong advocate for education and health care. During her time as USF President, she founded the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences. In May 2018, the Tampa Bay Lightning awarded Castor with a Community Hero Award; she shared part of the proceeds with USF Health by awarding it as a seed grant at this year’s luncheon.
Faculty Research Award Presentations
The Leading the Way Awards Luncheon supports seed grants for interdisciplinary team-based research that will advance women’s health. In the last six years, the Women’s Health Collaborative has funded 34 research projects and 100 researchers across the colleges of USF Health and partners inside and outside of the USF System.
“The University of South Florida is at the forefront in so many areas affecting the health of women across all stages of their lives. As Tampa Bay’s only academic medical center, USF Health understands the power that results from the confluence of education, research and clinical innovation,” said Dr. Lynch.
USF presented five research awards to USF Health faculty at the luncheon:
- PNC Bank, the presenting sponsor of the event, awarded a $15,000 seed grant for “Mothers of Very Low Birth Weight Infants: Chronic Stress and DNA Methylation Modifications at 3 years Postpartum.” The research team included Adetola Louis-Jacques, Thao Ho, Jessica Gordon, and Monica Uddin, who will investigate the relationships between maternal stress symptoms, child neurobehavioral symptoms and maternal DNA methylation patterns.
- Thanks to Betty Castor’s Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero Award, $15,000 was awarded to the “Testing feasibility and acceptability of an early childhood nutrition intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder” research team – Drs. Heewon Gray, Stephanie Marhefka, Heather Agazzi, and Eun Sook Kim. The research team will examine perspectives of Early Steps educators on intervention feasibility, acceptability, overall intervention process, and activity details to determine parents’ perspectives on the intervention experience.
- Tampa General Hospital awarded its $7,500 seed grant to Drs. Vanessa Hux, Ronee Wilson, and Kristen Salomon for “Experiences of Racial and Gender Discrimination Among Non-Pregnant and Pregnant Women.” The objective of this study is to characterize everyday discrimination, perceived ethnic discrimination, and ambivalent sexism in non-pregnant and pregnant women using the well-validated Williams Everyday Discrimination Scale, the Perceived Ethnic Discrimination Questionnaire, and the Experiences in Ambivalent Sexism Scale.
- The Women’s Health Collaborative seed grant for $10,000 was awarded to “Social Determinants of Health in Women with Heart Failure: Impact on Hospitalizations.” The research team included Drs. Joel Fernandez, Janice Zgibor, and Theresa Beckie. This trial will characterize how social differences in women with heart failure impact hospitalization rates, and how identifying social determinants in women with heart failure can provide a more holistic approach for secondary prevention strategies.
- Valerie Riddle, physician executive and USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy lifetime member, presented Dr. Dinorah Martinez-Tyson, an assistant professor for community and family health at the USF College of Public Health, with $5,000 as the recipient of the 2019 WLP Valerie D. Riddle, MD Award in Health. Dr. Martinez-Tyson has earned both her MPH and PhD from the University of South Florida, specializing her research in health disparities, Latino and immigrant health, and cancer survivorship and chronic disease management. She co-founded a non-profit organization that provides support to Latinos diagnosed with cancer.