New research funding aims to improve the health of women

$24 million cy pres award will fund projects focusing on heart health, dementia and cancer care for women in marginalized communities due to racial and economic disparities


UC Davis Health researchers will receive a $24 million award for research aimed at improving cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease care for women.

The $24 million in cy pres funds for UC Davis School of Medicine will back projects to improve the health of women.
The $24 million in cy pres funds for UC Davis School of Medicine will back projects to improve the health of women.

The UC Davis School of Medicine was selected as one of six California institutions to receive funds from a California-based class-action lawsuit against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. The suit alleged Wyeth misrepresented the benefits and risks of its hormone replacement therapy medications for women. In cases where money remains after eligible class members receive their claim payments, courts can distribute those funds to charitable causes in what’s referred to as a cy pres award.

Priority for the funding went to projects focused on women of color and in underserved communities, who traditionally are underrepresented in research and have unique disease risks.

“UC Davis has a long and distinguished history of addressing the health needs of women and underserved communities,” said Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine. “This new funding will help four of our leading experts in health disparities launch significant new projects to advance health equity and increase access to vital care.”

The UC Davis funding will go to a collaborative “Women’s Health Initiative” program. The application was designed by Angela Haczku and Ted Wun, associate deans of research at the School of Medicine, encompassing these projects led by:

  • Luis Carvajal-Carmona, professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine, for a project to make breast cancer precision medicine more accessible to marginalized communities.
  • Diana Miglioretti, professor of public health sciences, to develop precision breast cancer screening techniques for marginalized populations.
  • Amparo Villablanca, professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine Program, for a new center focused on identifying the risks of dementia and heart disease in women.
  • Rachel Whitmer, professor of public health sciences and associate director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, for an Alzheimer’s disease prevention program in Sacramento’s Oak Park community.

 “This award will provide a wonderful opportunity to increase collaborative efforts between the fields of breast cancer, cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s disease and to develop a comprehensive research program,” said Angela Haczku. “The projects will further our efforts to improve women’s health and eliminate health disparities.”

 “I would like to congratulate the award recipients for their teamwork in obtaining this award and look forward to the insight and impact they will produce,” said Prasant Mohapatra, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. “With the rapid advancement of personalized medicine, it is important that we continue to advance our knowledge on behalf of all populations.”

The suit against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. U.S. District Judge John A. Houston presided over the case and approved the funds awarded to the UC Davis School of Medicine.

“We are delighted that UC Davis was chosen to receive these funds, particularly given its longtime commitment to women’s health research and care for underserved communities,” said Beasley Allen attorney and class co-counsel, David Byrne.

More information about UC Davis Health, including its cardiovascular disease and dementia specialists, clinics and research, is at