Previous Years' BIH Excellence Award for Sex and Gender Aspects in Health Research

In early December 2017, a jury of international experts selected two winners from the pool of internationally renowned applicants who stood out with their different research approaches. Berlin Institute of Health awards the 2017 BIH Excellence Award for Sex and Gender Aspects in Health Research to
- Louise Pilote (McGill University and from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montreal, Canada) and
- Rhonda Voskuhl (University of California, USA).

Both scientists strongly incorporate gender aspects into their biomedical research. The researchers will share the €20,000 award and will come to Berlin for guest stays at BIH.

The jury consisted of the following professors:

  • Prof. Margarethe Hochleitner, Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, Professor of Gender Medicine, Director of the Women’s Health Office
  • Prof. Karolina Kublickiene, Associate Professor Karolinska Institutet Institution for Clinical Science, Intervention & Technology, Head of the Doctoral Programme in Development and Regeneration (DEVREG) and Gendered Innovation Alliance
  • Prof. Sabine Oertelt-Prigione, Radboud University Nimwegen, Netherlands, Professor of Gender in Primary and Transmural Care
  • Prof. Vera Regitz-Zagrosek, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, Director of the Institute of Gender in Medicine (GiM), Professor of Women’s Health Research with an emphasis on cardiovascular diseases
  • Prof. Londa Schiebinger, Stanford University, USA, John L. Hinds Professor of History of Science, Director of Graduate Studies
  • Prof. Alan White, Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom, Emeritus Professor of Men’s Health

The award ceremony took place on March 16, 2018 during the BIH Symposium 2018 in Berlin.

Award Winners

Louise Pilote | McGill University, Canada

Louise Pilote
Louise Pilote

Research focus

Louise Pilote is one of the few physicians to have specialized in social gender differences in cardiovascular research. To date, most research approaches have focused exclusively on biological sex differences, neglecting the impact of cultural gender roles. Pilote considers these criteria in her research, using a “gender score” she developed to investigate the possible effects of gender differences when it comes to medical issues such as cardiovascular diseases and to develop therapeutic approaches.

Short biography

Louise Pilote holds a James McGill chair and is a Professor of Medicine at McGill University and a researcher at Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). She completed her medical degree and residency in internal medicine at McGill University. She completed an MPH at the Harvard School of Public Health and a PhD in epidemiology at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Pilote's interests include cardiovascular epidemiology, outcomes research and health services research. She has published several studies answering questions on the effectiveness of cardiovascular care. Her research focuses on women and vascular diseases through the lifespan. She applies health services, outcomes, clinical trials and comparative effectiveness methods to answer questions about sex differences in the safety and effectiveness of drugs and procedures.

Rhonda Voskuhl | University of California, USA

Rhonda Voskuhl
Rhonda Voskuhl

Research focus

The research conducted by neurologist Rhonda Voskuhl stands out through its strong translational focus or, in other words, its focus on transferring basic and clinical research into medical practice. Voskuhl investigates biological sex differences in chronic degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis. She researches molecular mechanisms in preclinical studies and uses the findings to develop gender-specific biomarkers for new approaches to treatment.

Short biography

Rhonda Voskuhl attended Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma, on full basketball and academic scholarships. She received her M.D. from Vanderbilt University and completed a neurology residency at the University of Texas Southwestern where she twice received the Texas Neurological Society Research Award. She did a five-year fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) focusing on multiple sclerosis and its animal model, where she received a Public Health Citation for Excellence in Research. Dr. Voskuhl joined UCLA as Assistant Professor of Neurology in 1995, was promoted to Associated Professor in 2000 and Professor in 2004, and has been the Director of the UCLA MS Program for over 20 years. She received the Jack H. Skirball Endowed Chair in Multiple Sclerosis Research in 2006. Dr. Voskuhl sees MS patients in her clinic, while her laboratory is focused on understanding the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) through use of mouse models. She employs a “Bedside to Bench to Bedside” approach where research is based on clinical observations, molecular mechanisms are revealed, and lead findings are translated into novel clinical trials. A major clinical observation of focus is sex differences in disease. Dr. Voskuhl is a pioneer in sex differences research, examining effects of sex hormones and sex chromosomes in autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases. This has included being the Principle Investigator on four clinical trials in MS, two of which were multicenter trials at several sites across the United States. Another clinical area of interest is the heterogeneity of disabilities in MS. This entails examining cell-specific and region-specific gene expression in the brain to discover disability-specific neuroprotective treatments as well as developing disability-specific biomarkers for use in clinical trials of novel treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. The Berlin Institute of Health Award in 2017 aligns with Dr. Voskuhl’s vision of developing neuroprotective treatments tailored for each disability in each sex.

Previous Events with the Award Winners

Talking Biography – a networking event for women scientists with Louise Pilote
March 13, 2018, 7:00–8:30 pm
BIH Head office, Anna-Louisa-Karsch-Str. 2, 10178 Berlin
Registration: karin.hoehne@bihealth.de

BIH Lecture with Louise Pilote
"Measuring the Impact of Sex and Gender on Heart Disease Risk and Outcomes"
March 14, 2018, 5:00–6:30 pm
Charité Campus Mitte, tba
Registration: events@bihealth.de

Workshop with Rhonda Voskuhl for early and mid-career scientists
"How to approach sex differences research"
March 15, 2018, 2:00–4:00 pm
Charité Campus Mitte, Virchowweg 9, seminar room 2
Registration: karin.hoehne@bihealth.de

BIH Lecture with Rhonda Voskuhl
"Sex Differences in Multiple Sclerosis: Preclinical and Clinical Research"
March 15, 2018, 5:00–6:30 pm
Charité Campus Mitte, tba
Registration: events@bihealth.de