Obstetrics and Gynecology

The following programs/research are currently under way in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the School of Medicine at Meharry Medical College.

Mammographic breast density in a cohort of medically underserved women
Researcher: Maureen Sanderson, M.P.H., R.D., Ph.D.
Funding Source:Department of Defense (DOD)
Project Summary: The primary contribution of Dr. Sanderson's study is to provide a definitive characterization of racial differences in breast density—a known independent risk factor for breast cancer—to the benefit of future studies and many now in progress. Compared to other standard risk factors used in clinical risk estimation, breast density is a modifiable risk factor. By accurately identifying women at increased risk, the team hopes to include such women in lifestyle prevention strategies. In addition, a modified screening regimen for women with higher cancer risk would help detect cancer earlier, when it can be treated more effectively. This would result in better prognosis and reduced mortality. Dr. Sanderson hopes that identifying the risk factors for dense breasts will be effective in reducing known racial breast cancer disparities.


Increasing HPV Vaccine Utilization among Hispanic Girls
Researcher: Maureen Sanderson, M.P.H., R.D., Ph.D.
Funding Source: National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Project Summary: Despite increases in cervical cancer screening in the past few decades, African-American women have substantially higher rates of cervical cancer incidence and mortality than Caucasian women. Clinical trials have demonstrated HPV vaccines to be nearly 100% efficacious in preventing infection of HPV types 16 and 18, precancerous cervical disease, and resulting cervical cancer. However, according to the 2009 National Immunization Survey, rates of initiation of the HPV vaccine were similar for black girls and white girls (44%), but rates of completion of the three required doses were lower for African Americans (23% and 29%, respectively). Dr. Sanderson's team is testing the impact of a culturally appropriate social marketing intervention targeting African-American girls and their parents to increase utilization and completion of the HPV vaccine series.