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Updated 11:00 AM October 9, 2006




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Women's health expert Susan Love slated to kick off fund-raiser

Carol Boyd works to reduce prescription drug abuse by American teenagers. The director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender has found through her research that adolescent girls are more likely to abuse narcotics such as oxycodone for health problems.
Carolyn Johnston, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Medical School, studies social barriers hindering the distribution of HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines that can prevent cervical cancer around the world.

Nesha Haniff, lecturer in Women’s Studies and in AfroAmerican and African Studies, travels with students to South Africa to educate women about protecting themselves from HIV/AIDS.

Lisa Kane Low, clinical nurse specialist in the U-M Hospitals and a lecturer in Women’s Studies, the Medical School and the School of Nursing, works with women in Honduras to improve prenatal care and reduce mortality among childbearing women.

But these researchers struggle to find adequate funding for their cutting-edge projects and now are reaching out to others—particularly women—to help close this gap.

Women from across the country are meeting Oct. 13 in Ann Arbor to form the Sisters Fund, an innovative strategy to improve lives. It is the first time in U-M history that a research fund, financed primarily by women, is being dedicated to women’s health.

“The Sisters Fund is about people coming together to support projects, which ordinarily would not get funded. These projects have the potential to change the lives of women, men and families,” says Boyd, also a professor of nursing and women’s studies.

Dr. Susan Love, a founder of the breast cancer advocacy movement and a nationally recognized expert on women’s health, will speak at the kickoff breakfast for the fund. The goal is to establish a core of women to build the Sisters Fund and raise at least $250,000 in seed money.

The Sisters Fund is important for cutting-edge research, Love says.

“It is extremely difficult to get funding for innovative ideas in women’s health these days,” she says. “You almost have to have completed the work in order to get the funding. A pool of money for pilot studies is vitally important to encourage researchers to study women’s health and as a bridge to further funding.”

Ellen Agress, a breast cancer survivor who lost her mother to the disease, is serving as a co-chair of the Sisters Fund with Boyd.

“If women want to see societal changes in the areas of health care for women, equal career opportunities, domestic violence and child care, they have to flex their economic muscles,” says Agress, a U-M alumna and senior vice president and general counsel of New America Incorporated in New York. “I think it’s very important for women to use the power of the purse to support issues they care about so that those issues will get the attention they deserve.”

The kick-off for the Sisters Fund is being held during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to highlight the importance of women’s health issues.

Love also will present a free lecture on hormone replacement therapy at 1 p.m. Oct. 13. Agress endowed the annual Vivian Shaw lecture in honor of her mother, who died of breast cancer.

Love, author of “Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book” and “Dr. Susan Love’s Menopause and Hormone Book,” is president and medical director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of breast cancer.

She is a clinical professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles and serves on the boards of the National Breast Cancer Coalition and Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization.

The launch of the Sisters Fund is a story of women marshaling their intellectual and economic power to help others. It is also the story of world-class researchers at U-M working to find ways to improve women’s health around the world.

The breakfast fund-raiser for the Sisters Fund will be held 7:45-10 a.m. Oct. 13 in the Michigan Union Ballroom, second floor. Love will discuss breast cancer awareness and treatment. The $300 cost per person is fully tax-deductible. For tickets contact Laura Pavledes at (734) 615-6653 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays or at

During the Vivian Shaw Lecture at 1 p.m. the same day in Rackham Auditorium, Love will address “How Marketing Has Manufactured Diseases We Need to Prevent.” The event is free and open to the public.

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