Trainee Research Presentation
Trainee Research Presentations
March 31, 2023, 11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Join us online for our next Trainee Research Presentation!
This session will feature short, blitz-style presentations by trainees about their undergraduate, graduate, or postdoctoral research projects. It's a great opportunity to learn about what students interested in womens health are working on, to join an engaging discussion and connect with peers. Check out our speaker line-up and register for this free event below.
Sabine Halabi, MSc Student, University of British Columbia
Sabine is a MSc student in the Women+ and Children’s Health Sciences program in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of British Columbia. As a graduate researcher in the Talhouk lab, Sabine is working on validating epidemiological risk models for endometrial cancer to inform on targeted prevention for at-risk individual in a Canadian population. Sabine's goal is to provide a simple tool that can be used to screen the entire general, asymptomatic population in order to target those at higher risk for endometrial cancer to appropriate screening. The hope is to greatly reduce screening burden while also reducing the rising incidence and mortality rates for endometrial cancer. Sabine was awarded the Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS-M) for 2022-2023 for her continued work as a graduate researcher.
Talk Title: Epidemiological risk modelling for endometrial cancer.
Talk Summary: Endometrial cancer (EC) is the most common gynecological cancer. More than 40% of EC cases are attributed to modifiable risk factors that disrupt hormone levels. Risk models can identify and direct screening to high-risk individuals in the general population based on EC risk factors. Several models have been proposed but none have been validated in a Canadian population. Our objective is to reproduce and validate previously developed risk models in a Canadian cohort and build the first sex/gender and socioeconomic status (SES) indices for EC that can be used as predictors in the risk models to address disparities. To validate pre-existing risk models for EC, the Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia cohorts from the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health (CanPath) dataset were used. We included anyone with an intact uterus and not presenting EC symptoms. Model performance will be assessed through discrimination and calibration measures. The sex/gender index will be built in the CanPath dataset with logistic regression coefficients computed for variables provided by a previous sex/gender index. Similarly, the SES index will be built in the CanPath dataset using principal component analysis loadings computed for variables obtained from a previously built SES index. Thus far, we reproduced the models and computed risk scores for participants in CanPath. We are linking CanPath to provincial data to ascertain the outcome of EC or precursor diagnosis for each participant to validate the model's performance. We have also completed our sex/gender and SES indices and will be assessing them as predictors for EC risk in our models. Validating the EC risk models will allow us to identify individuals in a Canadian cohort at higher risk for EC and direct them to appropriate screening strategies. Additionally, including healthcare disparity-related indices in future risk models will improve generalizability and risk predictions.
Katherine Gray, Medical Student, University of British Columbia
Hello, I'm Katherine Gray, a fourth-year medical student at UBC. Throughout my medical training, I've had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of women, including patients and mentors. This experience has ignited my passion for global maternal health, especially in underserved areas.
During my research in Rwanda, I was shocked by the high incidence of advanced cervical cancer and the low rates of screening. This inspired me to focus my work on improving access to preventive care for women in low-resource settings.
I'm excited to start my residency in July and currently in the process of applying to Obstetrics & Gynecology programs, where I hope to continue working towards better maternal health outcomes for women worldwide.
Talk Title: Health care provider perceptions of cervical cancer screening in Rwanda
Talk Summary: Our study engages with healthcare providers to explore their knowledge and perceptions of cervical cancer screening, access to resources and supplies for screening, and attitudes toward integrated screening and self-collection for cervical cancer.
Arnima Singh, Undergraduate Student, University of British Columbia
Arnima Singh is a third-year student at the University of British Columbia in the Faculty of Science. She is pursuing a Combined Major in Science. Her research interests include neuroimmunology, mental health, and intervention measures. She hopes to pursue graduate studies in Clinical Psychology. During her free time, she can be found at aesthetic cafes studying, a pretext for justifying an unhealthy amount of coffee.
Talk Title: Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic (EPAC): A Recruitment Trial
Talk Summary: In Canada, up to 25% of females may experience a miscarriage during their lifetime. The Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic (EPAC) at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre offers care for these patients in the first trimester of pregnancy. The EPAC REDCap data registry project aims to characterize the patient population within EPAC and improve care for patients not only at BC Women’s Hospital but also at other facilities serving these patients. This project can be used to facilitate future research opportunities and enhance care provided at EPAC by incorporating patient feedback. To determine whether current recruitment methods result in a biased patient sample, a recruitment trial was conducted for three months, tracking the recruitment process.
Malak Ibrahim, MSc Student, University of British Columbia
Malak completed a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology at McGill University. She is currently a MSc student in Women and Children’s Health at the University of British Columbia, at the Uterine Health Lab. Malak is collaborating with clinical and community stakeholders to investigate the knowledge gaps regarding symptom and risk factor recognition for endometrial cancer and barriers to accessing care. Malak was awarded the BC Graduate Award for 2022-2023.
Talk Title: Spot the Difference: recognizing risks for cancer in the experiences of normal aging
Talk Summary: Endometrial cancer (EC) is one of the few cancers with an increasing incidence, especially among premenopausal females. When detected early, EC patients expect a 5-year survival rate of 95%. However, for 10-20% of patients who experience a recurrence, or are diagnosed at an advanced stage, a much lower 17% survival rate is expected, emphasizing the need for early detection. Symptoms of EC in pre-menopause are often confused with changes associated with reproductive ageing, leading to delayed diagnosis. Furthermore, females face several barriers that may delay diagnosis, such as lack of health literacy, taboo and embarrassment of symptoms, and health care provider bias.
Objective: To evaluate participants ability to distinguish between normal aging and causes for concern, and further probe some of the gaps in knowledge around menstruation, early signs of cancer, and delays in accessing care.
In this study, we use qualitative interviews to capture experiences of a diverse group of females who are undergoing menopausal transition, are post-menopausal, or have been diagnosed with EC. We want to be especially inclusive of populations at elevated risk for EC and learn whether knowledge gaps regarding EC risk factors and symptoms are associated with certain patient socio-ethnic characteristics. Gaining insight into the experience of various individuals, from pre-menopausal females to EC survivors, and collaborating with these individuals will allow us to address knowledge gaps and barriers to accessing care for EC.
Cherise Kwok, Undergraduate Student, University of British Columbia
Cherise is an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia currently majoring in Behavioural Neuroscience. Broadly, her research interests are focused on exploring how psychosocial factors impact physical and mental health outcomes, and the sex differences in behavioral and neural consequences of stress.
Talk Title: Sex differences in the effects of chronic unpredictable stress on negative cognitive bias and neural activity in the amygdala and nucleus accumbens
Talk Summary: This study examined whether there were sex differences in cognitive bias after chronic unpredictable stress (CUS) and measured neural activity in the amygdala and nucleus accumbens. Male and female rats exposed to CUS displayed a greater negative cognitive bias (NCB) compared to non-stressed (NS) rats. CUS males had higher neural activity in the amygdala compared to NS males, and NCB was associated with the higher neural activity in the central amygdala of NS males but in the lateral amygdala of CUS males. Females had higher neural activity in the nucleus accumbens compared to males regardless of CUS. These findings suggest that the amygdala plays a greater role in how male rats think in regards to NCB after CUS.