​​ Women's Health Program logo  

UHN Women's Health Program Newsletter

December 2023

Dear Colleagues,

The UHN Women's Health Program is envisioned as community of researchers, clinicians, and educators focused on advancing sex- and gender-informed research and clinical care. While our main focus is on research to identify and address sex- and gender-based differences across health conditions, we also support education to train the next generation of leaders in women's health, and innovation in clinical services to empower women and improve health outcomes.

Please visit the Women's Health Program website for information on members and activities; new members are welcome. If you have announcements, accomplishments, rounds, conferences or other information for future newsletters, please email

All my best,

Dr. Moira Kapral

Dr. Moira Kapral
Lillian Love Chair in Women's Health

Awards and Recognitions

Donna Stewart  

Medal for Excellence, International Association for Women's Mental Health

Dr. Donna Stewart has been honoured by the International Association for Women's Mental Health (IAWMH) with the naming of the Prof. Donna Stewart Medal for Excellence in Research in Women's Mental Health. Dr. Stewart co-founded the IAWMH and was also the inaugural Lillian Love Chair in Women's Health at UHN. More details here.

Angela Cheung  

Tier 1 Canada Research Chair

Congratulations to Dr. Angela Cheung on receiving a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Musculoskeletal and Postmenopausal Health. Dr. Cheung is also a former holder of the Lillian Love Chair in Women's Health.

Lena Serghides  

Tier 1 Canada Research Chair

Congratulations to Dr. Lena Serghides on receiving a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Maternal-Child Health and HIV.

Aleksandra Pikula  

Chair in Stroke Prevention and Cerebrovascular Brain Health, University Health Network

Congratulations to Dr. Aleksandra Pikula who was appointed as the inaugural Jay and Sari Sonshine Chair in Stroke Prevention and Cerebrovascular Brain Health within the Krembil Brain Institute at UHN. Dr. Pikula's work focuses on women's brain health, from education and community-driven research to innovation and quality improvement, and she and Drs. Anella and Bui have published on the importance of training in women's neurology. She plans to facilitate workshops and community education, host a UofT Women's Neurology fellowship and support future summer students interested in women's health.

Rounds and Announcements


UHN Research IDEA Committee Activities

The UHN Research Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee has partnered with multiple stakeholders to launch the STEM Pathways program, which is providing ongoing outreach to high school students to encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM. To date, more than 10,000 students have been though the program, and the majority of those are girls.

The IDEA Committee also hosted a Pride in STEM event in November, recording available here.

UofT Logo  

UofT Women's Brain Health Rounds

The UofT Women's Brain Health Rounds is chaired by Drs. Aleksandra Pikula and Gillian Einstein.

To register for the rounds, please contact

Your Complex Brain podcast logo  

Podcast: Your Complex Brain

Though women make up nearly half of the world's population and have higher rates of neurological disorders such as migraine, there is still a gap when it comes to better understanding and treating women living with brain-related illnesses.

In this episode of the Krembil Brain Institute's (KBI) 'Your Complex Brain' podcast, Dr. Mary Angela O'Neal, Director of the Women's Neurology program at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston is interviewed with Dr. Esther Bui, a neurologist and clinician educator at KBI, founder and co-director of the Women's Neurology training program.

You can listen to the episode here and you can see the bios, show notes and other bonus content on the KBI website here.

Summer Students

The second WHP summer student scholarship competition was held this year, with the competition open to undergraduate students, medical students, and students enrolled in course-based graduate programs. Congratulations to the following students who received scholarships in 2023.

Annika Sivak  

Annika Sivak

Supervisor: Dr. Serghides
Title: Comparing the impact of different HIV antiretrovirals on placenta structure using stereology

My time at McGill generated an avid interest in neuroendocrinology and cemented a drive to help women restore a sense of comfort with their bodies by correcting fertility issues. I am inspired by the Women's Health Program objectives to encourage women to pursue a professional career of their choice, and I am thrilled to further HIV and women's health research with Dr. Serghides. Dr. Serghides' research focus not only addresses health issues but socio- economic disparities between affected groups navigating the best options for clinical ARV drug treatment. I hope to contribute meaningful work into improving the lives of families affected by HIV by maximizing the positive effects of ARV drug therapy and minimizing potential fetal impairment. This will help promote equity in administration of health care to women to ensure pregnant women are provided with the best treatment for HIV, to restore a sense of fulfillment to their lives.

Christina Pizzola  

Christina Pizzola

Supervisors: Drs. Sharon Walmsley and Alice Zhadbokritsky
Title: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health outcomes and barriers and enablers for accessing healthcare for women living with HIV

Throughout my research experiences thus far, I have noticed that there is minimal research on how gender differences impact health outcomes, and how health outcomes are impacted by a state of vulnerability, such as living with HIV. This has demonstrated to me the importance of research and dissemination of these important and timely topics. Through this summer studentship, I hope to combine my passions for women's health and global health to contribute to the improvement of healthcare outcomes for women living with HIV, who have been implicated disproportionately due to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a medical student considering pursuing a specialty involving women's health, research aimed at measuring and improving healthcare in women will be of great benefit to my goal of improving healthcare outcomes for women and vulnerable populations.

Delaram Sadatamin  

Delaram Sadatamin

Supervisor: Dr. Azadeh Yadollahi
Title: Developing a person-centered textile technology for frequent and accessible monitoring of sleep apnea and its types in women with cardiovascular disease

In the past year, I have done a preliminary review of textile-based technologies for sleep apnea monitoring, and gained a deep understanding of the pathophysiology of sleep apnea, especially in persons with cardiovascular disease, and topics related to health inequity. In this proposal, I will use my training to focus on sex- and gender-based disparities in sleep apnea diagnosis, and their concerns about the textile design. I will run all the proposed studies, including literature review and interviews, recruit participants, analyze the data, prepare materials for knowledge dissemination, including presentations in local and international meetings and publication in the relevant journals.

Linda Lu  

Linda Lu

Supervisors: Drs. Anthony Gramolini & Maral Ouzounian
Title: Sex Differences in Biochemical Profiles of Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm for Personalized Medicine

Historically, medical research has placed heavy emphasis in men while women were underrepresented in both clinical trials and clinical studies, particularly in cardiovascular health. This may be a key factor for the increased mortality and poorer outcomes of women from cardiovascular events compared to men. Although efforts have been undertaken to improve female representation in research, much more work can be done to elucidate sex-differences in clinical progression of certain diseases to devise inclusive personalized medicine tools. Prior to entering medical school, I was involved in a student-led nonprofit organization aimed at creating educational resources for women living with endometriosis. The joy of providing novel information and guidelines based on high quality scientific research has solidified my passion for improving inequities in women's health. I hope to use this opportunity to merge two of my interests – cardiovascular health and women's health.

Lindsey Zhang  

Lindsey Zhang

Supervisor: Dr. Aleksandra Pikula
Title: Women's Prospective on Brain Health & Lifestyle Medicine in Stroke Prevention

One focus of the Women's Health Program is research on ways to address sex- and gender-based disparities in healthcare. I think that this is an important yet under-researched area that could improve the health of billions worldwide. It is also an area that I focused on significantly in my undergraduate degree through course work and projects. My "Sex, Gender, & Health" class in my second year of university allowed me to explore ways that the obesity epidemic was influenced by sex and gender factors. I also led a project on patient narratives related to sickle cell disease, which gave me the opportunity to explore how sex and gender, race, and chronic disease were all interconnected in a person's interaction with the healthcare system. One of the last courses I took as part of my undergraduate program was "Inquiry into Perinatal & Reproductive Health" where a wide range of topics related to women's health were explored, the most prominent being disparities in contraceptive care. Now, I have the privilege of shadowing and learning from physicians in various fields as a medical student. Interacting with patients has given me an even greater insight into the importance of addressing disparities in women's healthcare.

Nikhila Butani  

Nikhila Butani

Supervisor: Dr. Husam Abdel-Qadir
Title: Wholesale cardiac Imaging Surveillance with Echocardiography and Radionuclide assays during breast cancer chemotherapy (WISER)

There are many gaps and disparities when it comes to the treatment and diagnosis of certain conditions in women. For example, women are more likely to have a misdiagnosed heart attack because the signs and symptoms of a heart attack present differently in women than in men. Recognizing this disparity, has sparked my interest in advocating for women's health and contributing to medical advances.

Additionally, during my undergraduate degree at McMaster, I volunteered at Martha's House in Hamilton. Martha's House is an emergency shelter for women and their children who are fleeing domestic violence. This shelter promoted women's well-being by providing counselling and medical support. As a volunteer, I provided emotional support through meaningful conversations. Through this experience, my drive to advocate for women and their health further developed. While completing this Women's Health Summer Studentship under the supervision of Dr. Abdel-Qadir, I will be able to contribute to advances in women's health which I am very interested in. Dr. Abdel-Qadir has profound knowledge in the medical field and is a successful advocate for women's health as he continues to research breast cancer, the most common cause of cancer in women, and its interrelationship with cardiovascular disease. Therefore, I am excited to learn from him and help improve women's health.

Hibo Rijal  

Hibo Rijal

Supervisors: Drs. Moira Kapral and Aleksandra Pikula
Title: Understanding Stroke in Young Women

Previous work has shown that global stroke incidence has been declining since 2003, however this pattern changes when modified by age. Stroke incidence in young men and women (aged under 50 years) has alternatively increased. Overall stroke incidence is lower in women than in men, except in the young adult group. Intersectionality theory suggests that sex/gender, age, income, immigration status, ethnic origin and psychological factors synergistically, and it is likely that stroke care and outcomes differ in young male and female Canadians. This study proposes to use ICES data to compare stroke etiology, risk factor prevalence, and outcomes in young women and men in Ontario, Canada with acute stroke

Resources for Researchers

The UHN Research IDEA website has a variety of helpful resources for researchers seeking to integrate sex and gender into their research design and grant applications, as well as best practices for peer review and student supervision.

Educational Opportunities

Dr. Lianne Tile, Education Lead, Women's Health Program, is creating an inventory of clinical and research rotations, electives, and fellowships in women's health, to be included on the website for prospective students and to be used to inform the design of future electives or fellowships in women's health. If you offer any such rotations, please use this link to provide information, or email


UHNWomen has the mission of promoting equitable and inclusive opportunities for women to lead, grow and achieve professional fulfillment in their careers and lives. The UHNWomen strategic plan includes supporting leadership development, establishing a culture at UHN that elevates women, enhancing infrastructure and resources, and advocating for equitable policies. There is more to come - please watch the UHNWomen website for upcoming activities, and let us know if you would like to become involved.

Please email if you have items for inclusion in future newsletters.

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