Women's Health today

Women's Health Today is a series of talks on contemporary topics in women's health. Programs are webcast live and audience members (on-line and in person) are invited to submit questions to speakers. In addition, talks are available for future online viewing or as podcasts.

Women's Health Today is presented by the UCSF Center for Gender Equity and the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health. The talks will be held in San Francisco. See current events for specific dates and program descriptions.

2008-2009 Programs

Primary Care for Transgender People Tuesday October 28, 2008
The Heart Healthy Properties of Chocolate Thursday November 20, 2008
Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Making Girls Sick Thursday February 26, 2009
Pleasure: A Woman's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve Thursday March 19, 2009
Don't "Cell" Yourself Short: How Lifestyle Affects Your Cells and Your Health  

Primary Care for Transgender People
Date: Tuesday October 28, 2008
Time: Noon to 1PM
Place: Herbst Hall on the Mt. Zion campus
Speaker: Lori Kohler, MD

The term transgender refers to a person who is born with the genetic traits of one gender but the internalized identity of another gender. The goal of treatment for transgender people is to improve quality of life by facilitating their transition to a physical state that more closely represents their sense of themselves. Regardless of their socioeconomic status, all transgendered people are medically underserved. This informative presentation will focus on:

  • barriers to care for transgender people
  • transgender people and HIV
  • hormone treatment and management
  • surgical options and post-op care.

Lori Kohler, MD, is a Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine (FCM) UCSF and the Director of the Correctional Medicine Consultation Network (CMCN). The CMCN is a statewide program FCM at UCSF in collaboration with the Division of Correctional Health Care Services of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The CMCN is a ground-breaking effort that promises to enrich the work environment for correctional medical staff, to enhance the quality of medical care in California prisons, and to promote correctional medicine as a valuable and attractive career.

Co-sponsor LGBT Resource Center

The Heart Healthy Properties of Chocolate
Date: Thursday November 20, 2008
Time: Noon to 1PM
Place: Cole Hall on the Parnassus Campus
Speaker: Mary B. Engler, PhD, RN, MS

Cocoa and chocolate have recently been found to be rich plant-derived sources of antioxidant flavonoids with beneficial cardiovascular properties. They have been shown to promote several beneficial effects in the cardiovascular system, including vasodilation and blood pressure reduction; decreasing oxidation of LDL cholesterol (a harmful process that allows cholesterol to accumulate in blood vessels); inhibiting aggregation of blood platelets (which contributes to the risk of blood clots that produce stroke and heart attack); and decreasing the body's inflammatory immune responses (which contribute to atherosclerosis). Increasing evidence from experimental and clinical studies using cocoa-derived products and chocolate suggest an important role for these high-flavonoid containing foods in heart and vascular protection.

Dr. Mary B. Engler is a Professor and Director of the Cardiovasular and Genomics Graduate programs in the Department of Physiological Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Engler received her PhD degree in Physiology with a cardiovascular focus from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and completed her doctoral research training at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, M.D. She also holds a BS and MS degrees in Biology from the American University, Washington, D.C. Her clinical experience spans over 13 years in critical care and cardiovascular surgery at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.  Her academic career at UCSF began in 1988.

Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Making Girls Sick
Date: Thursday February 26, 2009
Time: Noon to 1PM
Place: Cole Hall - Parnassus
Speaker: Courtney E. Martin
This eye-opening look at twenty-first century culture and its impact on women reveals how food and weight obsession, driven in no small part by images of celebrities openly wasting away, threatens a new generation of girls as the feminist exhortation that "you can do anything" is twisted into "you must do everything." It also inspires women, young women in particular, to consider what wonderful things might happen if the madness stopped once and for all.
Courtney E. Martin is the award-winning author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, called "a hardcover punch in the gut" by Arianna Huffington and "a smart and spirited rant that makes for thought-provoking reading" by the New York Times. She is also a widely-read freelance journalist and regular blogger. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor, Alternet, among others. She is a columnist for The American Prospect Online and an editor at feministing.com, and has appeared on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, and The O'Reilly Factor. Read more about her work at www.courtneyemartin.com.

Co-sponsors: Student Activity Center, Campus Life Services Fitness & Recreation, Student Health Services

Pleasure: A Woman's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve
Date: Thursday March 19, 2009
Time: Noon to 1PM
Place: HSW 301 - Parnassus
Speaker: Hilda Hutcherson, MD

Sex is a natural human right and satisfying sex has health benefits. For women, the quality of sex is more important than quantity. Sex that is not satisfying may actually increase risks of poor heath outcome. Yet almost 50 percent of women are not satisfied with their sex lives. Poor sexual self-image, low sexual self-esteem, as well as inadequate sexual knowledge may affect a woman's ability to experience pleasure. And women tend to focus more on their partner's pleasure than their own. We will discuss how women can embrace their sexuality and experience the sexual pleasure that they need and deserve.

Dr. Hutcherson received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She is presently a Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Dean for Diversity and Minority Affairs at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr Hutcherson's devotion to women's empowerment is supported by her monthly sexual health column in Glamour Magazine. Dr Hutcherson is the author of 3 books: Having Your Baby: A guide for African American women, What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex  and Pleasure: A Woman's Guide to Getting the Sex you want Need and Deserve.

Co-sponsors: Student Activity Center, Student Health Services and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.

Don't "Cell" Yourself Short: How Lifestyle Affects Your Cells and Your Health
Date: Thursday May 21, 2009
Time: Noon to 1PM
Place: Herbst Hall - Mt. Zion
Speaker: Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD and Elissa Epel, PhD

This program will be co-led by Drs. Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel, both leading scientists at University of California San Francisco. Drs. Epel and Blackburn have been at the forefront of research into the biological impact of stress. Among their findings is that severe, ongoing stress, such as that associated with caring for a chronically ill child or aging parent, can accelerate aging on a cellular level.

Dr. Blackburn will discuss her world-renowned groundbreaking research on how cells age, as reflected by the telomere/telomerase maintenance system, and how these are related to health and disease.

Dr. Epel will focus on how lifestyle factors, such as stress and obesity, are related to cell aging, and will offer some practical tips on managing stress and overeating. She has long-standing interests in social and psychobiological stress mechanisms.

Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, Morris Herzstein Endowed Professor in Biology & Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics discovered the molecular nature of telomeres-the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving the genetic information - and she discovered the ribonucleoprotein enzyme, telomerase. Blackburn and her research team at UCSF are working with various cells including human cells, with the goal of understanding telomerase and telomere biology. Throughout her career, Blackburn has been honored by her peers as the recipient of many prestigious awards. Among many others, she has received the Eli Lilly Research Award for Microbiology and Immunology (1988), and the National Academy of Science Award in Molecular Biology (1990). Most recently, she was awarded the Australia Prize (1998), named California Scientist of the Year in 1999, and received the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor (2000). Dr. Blackburn received the most prestigious Albert Lasker Medical Research Award in Basic Medical Research in 2006. The Lasker Award, which has come to be known as "America's Nobel", is one of the most coveted awards in medical science. In 2007 she was named as one of Time Magazine's Most 100 Influential People. 

Elissa Epel, PhD, Assistant Professor in Residence in the Department of Psychiatry is a faculty member of the Health Psychology program, the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars fellowship program, and Director of Research for the new UCSF Center on Obesity on the The Center for Health and Community https://chc.ucsf.edu/). She has longstanding interests in the impact of stress physiology on ‘metabolic health,' including food intake, insulin resistance, obesity, and premature aging at the cellular level, and how health enhancing interventions might enhance regulation in these systems. She aims to understand, from a psychological and biological perspective, why some people are vulnerable and others are resilient to chronic stress, and how much of accelerated aging is due to changes in metabolism and eating behavior. She focuses on mothers of children with chronic conditions, and older people caring for family members with dementia. She is also involved in clinical trials examining how stress reduction interventions might reverse or slow cell aging. She was recently awarded the 2008 APA Early Career Award in Health Psychology.



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