News Release

Monday, October 2, 2006

NIH/ORWH Announces New Fellowships in Women’s Health

Bethesda, Md. — The Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Program for Research on Women’s Health (IPRWH) are pleased to announce the selection of the first recipients of the NIH Women’s Health Fellowships in Intramural Women’s Health Research. This intramural program (scientists working at the NIH) is supported jointly by ORWH and the Office of Intramural Research (OIR). The Fellowships are funded through the Foundation of the NIH. The Foundation was established by Congress to maximize the resources at the NIH and supports medical research at the NIH through public-private partnerships. The Shared Postdoctoral Fellowship is supported through a donation from Battelle and the Clinical/Translational Fellowship in Women’s Health is funded through a donation from AstraZeneca.

The two fellows, Suzanne C. O’Neil, Ph.D., University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Shannon K. Laughlin, M.D., Loyola University, recently began working with their NIH components.

“We are delighted to welcome these two outstanding researchers and look forward to following their progress during their fellowships and beyond,” said Vivian W. Pinn, M.D., Director of the ORWH.

Dr. O’Neil, awarded the Shared Postdoctoral Fellowship, has examined the emotional and behavioral responses of women seeking genetic testing for BRCA1/BRCA2 breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility genes. “The Women’s Health Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for a postdoctoral scientist,” stated Dr. O’Neil. “The resources provided by the Fellowship will allow me to investigate my own research questions concerning individualized preventive medicine based on genetic risk under the mentorship of the faculty of the National Human Genome Research Institute’s (NHGRI) Social and Behavioral Research Branch. It will provide an excellent foundation for my career as a clinical scientist.” Dr. O’Neil obtained her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Delaware and did a clinical internship in behavioral medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. She has been a postdoctoral fellow at UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Laughlin, recipient of the Clinical/Translational Fellowship, is completing her final year of residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Loyola University. “During the course of my last year at Loyola, I developed a particular interest in fibroids (benign tumors in the walls of the uterus) and noted the difference between African American and white patients in prevalence and severity of fibroids,” said Dr. Laughlin. “The Women’s Health Fellowship will enable me to enhance my statistical and epidemiological skills for future research.” Dr. Laughlin is working with the Epidemiology branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Her research plan is to identify factors that place women at high risk of developing fibroids and to discover if early identification and treatment of high-risk women, or perhaps preventive measures, will reduce the need for surgery.

“The Women’s Health Fellowship is a unique opportunity to accelerate our efforts to provide exciting and meaningful programs for the advancement and effective mentoring of women to senior positions in science,” emphasized Dr. Pinn.

The Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) serves as a focal point for women’s health research at the NIH. For further information

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®