When the University at Buffalo became a clinical center that focused on examining and preventing major illnesses among women over 50 years of age back in the early 1990s, it was one of only 16 centers in the country.
This week, officials announced a $6.2 million federal grant from the National Institutes of Health that will extend the Women’s Health Initiative for another five years.
The project initially focused breakthrough research towards the cure and prevention of heart disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, dementia, and any of the most death and debilitating illness that affect postmenopausal women. Researchers have expanded the focus to examine the effects of physical activity, multivitamins and other variables on women's health.
Congressman Brian Higgins noted that the results of such research must be measured over many years.
“Cancer and heart disease and medical research generally has to be sustained over a long period of time before it can yield results, and that’s the big challenge. The only failure in medical research is when you quit or you’re forced to quit because of lack of funding," he told WBFO.
In a written statement, a UB official underscored the long-term impact of the Women's Health Initiative.
"As a society, we are aging," said Jean Wactawski-Wende, UB's lead WHI investigator and dean of the Schopol of Public Health and Health Professions. "What we learn from these women will help the next generation of women and society in understanding these issues."
The most recent grant brings the total federal commitment to $27 million. Officials said the investment has leveraged millions of additional dollars in outstanding funding. Higgins said he is convinced the latest grant will further strengthen Buffalo's role in medical research.
"We'll benefit from these type of grants," he said. "We will see a multiplier effect."