Women’s health researchers at York University win awards

Five scholars at York University have been honoured for their research into issues related to women’s health. Their research covers a wide range of topics: cell biology in ovarian cancer, cardiac rehabilitation after heart surgery, the mother’s role in health and education, and the health of immigrant women in Toronto and India.

The Ontario Women’s Health Council (OWHC) presented 27 awards on Jan. 20 during a ceremony at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Two professors and three graduate students from York University were among the award-winners.

Professor Chun Peng (left) of the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and Engineering, received a Mid-Career Award for her research into the role of Nodal signaling pathways in ovarian cancer – among the deadliest cancers for women. Her team’s research also examines how growth factors and hormones control the female reproductive process, which may lead to the development of new therapies for infertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy-related diseases.

Professor Sherry Grace (right) of the Department of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Arts, received a Career Scientist Award for her work on the reasons why heart patients, especially women, are under-referred to cardiac rehabilitation programs of exercise and education after they leave the hospital. Studies show that such rehabilitation can enhance recovery, and Grace’s research may help identify ways to maximize women’s participation in these potentially beneficial programs.

PhD student Guoxiong Xu of the Department of Biology, a researcher in Peng’s lab, is also involved in work that may advance the scientific understanding of ovarian cancer. Xu received a Scholars Award for his research on the function and biological effects of a growth factor that may prevent the development of cancer cells.

PhD student Nicole Balan of the Faculty of Education received an award for her research exploring the unpaid health and educational work of mothers, and how this affects the health and education of the family.

Master’s student Sabiha Merali Merchant of the Faculty of Environmental Studies received a graduate award for her research focusing on immigrant women’s health in Toronto, and women’s health in India. She is currently examining access to health services for immigrant women at a Toronto hospital.