This story has been updated from its original version.
Oregon Health and Science University's (OHSU) Circle of Giving, a group dedicated to awarding medical research grants, is changing the landscape of women's health, funding projects and propelling the advancement of women's health studies. The volunteer based group is supported by the OHSU Center for Women's Health and the OHSU foundation.
According to Wilsonville resident and member Linette Dobbins, there are 35 women in the group, some of them breast cancer survivors but all looking for ways to help.
Established in 2006, the group has sponsored a number of large projects, including alternatives to estrogen use in preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
"It took a long time for the medical community to come to the realization that men and women are biologically different and need different studies," Dobbins says.
The group typically awards a $125,000 grant each year, funded by membership dues and donations, while also funding smaller research projects. This year Wei Huang, an associate scientist at the OHSU Advanced Imaging Center, was awarded a grant to work on developing a safer and cost effective MRI system to better detect breast cancer and Drs Jim Korkola and Kimberlly Beatty another to investigate drug resistance mechanisms in HER2+ resistant breat cancers.
Renee Edwards, co-director of the OHSU Center for Women's Health, believes that women need better representation in both the scientific and medical communities.
"Circle of Giving members are donating to this cause because they care deeply about Oregon women's health and want to be a driving force for innovation at OHSU," Edwards says. "They are also keenly aware that women have been consistently underrepresented in scientific discovery."
The Circle of Giving encourages women of many different ages to join the organization.
"Membership dues for women under 40 are half of what they are for older women. We want to encourage women of all ages to join, if they are able," Dobbins says. "The more members we have the larger an impact we can make."
A member of the Circle of Giving since 2011, Dobbins has worked to cultivate a relationship with group members and grow the organization. Now her company, McGee Wealth Management, has recently become the first corporate sponsor of the Circle of Giving.
"It is an honor to be the first presenting sponsor. We want to give back to the community," Dobbins says. "This group of women is full of beautiful people who are so kind and so intelligent. I grow from being around them."
For Dobbins, it is an opportunity to further develop her serving role.
"I think everyone wants to leave their mark on the world," Dobbins says. "This is my way of doing that."
This story was corrected to make clear that the Circle of Giving members are not predominately breast cancer survivors and while the scope of research projects funded by the group includes many health issues impacting women, stroke medication is not one of those.