November 4, 2015
Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt made nearly $8 million in settlement funds available to the University of Nevada School of Medicine and the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada for projects designed to improve women’s health in Nevada. The funds resulted from a settlement reached in 2014 announced by the prior attorney general with Pfizer pharmaceutical company who unlawfully promoted certain postmenopausal hormone therapy medications. Over the course of a five-year period, $3.8 million will be distributed to the School of Medicine faculty in Reno and Las Vegas, while the remaining funds will be made available to the University Medical Center.
“Settlements like this one afford our state the opportunity to support academic and medical programs aimed at improving women’s health,” said Attorney General Laxalt. “I am excited to see how our state’s understanding and treatment of these issues will be enhanced with these funds.”
“The University of Nevada School of Medicine is enormously appreciative of the support provided by the attorney general to improve the quality of women’s health care,” added Dean Thomas Schwenk. “The types of clinical and research projects being supported all have a direct bearing on women’s health and are projects we could not complete without this critical support.”
Faculty members of the School of Medicine submitted grant proposals to acquire the funds to support research studies aimed at women’s health. The funds were allocated as follows:
Iain Buxton, Pharm.D., pharmacology department chair, purchased a super-resolution microscope that enables scientists to study subcellular structures in detail using fluorescence imaging. Being the first of its kind in Nevada, the microscope will assist Buxton with his research involving breast cancer and pre-term birth.
“Nevada can benefit greatly from the funds made available by the Attorney General’s Office in bringing women’s health issues to the forefront of our communities,” said Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske. “In particular, this unique, high resolution microscope purchased with these funds will further breast cancer research and bring us one step closer to fighting and treating this disease.”
Heather Burkin, Ph.D., of the pharmacology department, plans to use the funds to test her hypothesis that certain proteins may regulate uterine contractions, thereby affecting birth timing.
Ruben Dagda, Ph.D., also of the pharmacology department, will use the funding to examine possible connections between Alzheimer's disease in women and the increase in hormone levels from use of estrogen-based hormone therapy.
Dan Spogen, M.D., family medicine chair, will use the funding to promote the use of screening guidelines for women's health. He proposes the development of a patient application that will reduce confusion in patients stemming from conflicting information on frequency and need for various screening tests, such as pap smears and breast examinations.
Vani Dandolu, M.D., obstetrics and gynecology chair, plans to establish a Women's Heart Center to improve the transition of care for women admitted to the hospital with heart disease and to identify women with high risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Elissa Palmer, M.D., family medicine chair, plans to use money from the settlement to develop the Clinical Health Assessment and Promotion Program to address women's health issues, specifically preventative health care, in the sub-population of women with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
University Medical Center of Southern Nevada is currently submitting grant proposals to acquire funding.