Connors-BRI Symposium

Incorporating Sex as Biologic Variable to Advance Health

May 24, 2021 | 3-5PM

Virtual Event

Naoko Sasamoto, MD, MPH

Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Obstetrics & Gynecology


Background: Endometriosis is a gynecologic disease often causing severe pelvic pain and infertility. Identifying non-invasive diagnostic biomarkers of endometriosis could lead to earlier diagnosis and interventions. Therefore, we aimed to identify plasma proteins associated with endometriosis in a cross-sectional analysis of adolescents and young adults using a multiplex aptamer-based proteomics biomarker discovery platform.

Material and methods: We measured 1,305 plasma protein levels using SOMAscan in 142 laparoscopically confirmed endometriosis cases and 74 controls from the longitudinal cohort of the Women’s Health Study: From Adolescence to Adulthood. We calculated odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals using logistic regression adjusting for age at blood draw, body mass index, fasting status, and hormone use. We used Benjamini-Hochberg correction to account for multiple testing and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis to identify biological pathways. We also examined proteins associated with specific endometriotic lesion colors (i.e. red, vascular, white, blue, brown).

Results: Average age at blood draw was 18 for endometriosis cases and 22 for controls. We identified 66 proteins associated with endometriosis with a nominal p-value <0.05 and absolute fold change <1.2. While none of the individual proteins were significantly associated after multiple testing correction (FDR<0.05), we identified biological pathways that were associated with endometriosis using the results from the multivariable logistic regression analysis. Pathways related to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and angiogenesis were upregulated in endometriosis compared to controls. Furthermore, when we examined proteins associated with lesion colors, there were few proteins that overlapped across lesion colors, suggesting different pathways of pathogenesis.

Conclusion: Using the aptamer-based proteomics platform, we identified proteins and pathways associated with surgically diagnosed endometriosis in adolescents and young adults.


3PM – Welcome Remarks
3:05PM – Keynote Address
3:45PM – Featured Short Talks
4:20PM – Lightning Talks
4:50PM – Closing Remarks

Keynote Speaker

Janine Austin Clayton, MD

Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health and Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the architect of the NIH policy requiring scientists to consider sex as a biological variable across the research spectrum. This policy is part of NIH’s initiative to enhance reproducibility through rigor and transparency. As co-chair of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Clayton also leads NIH’s efforts to advance women in science careers.

Prior to joining the ORWH, Dr. Clayton was the Deputy Clinical Director of the National Eye Institute (NEI) for seven years. A board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Clayton’s research interests include autoimmune ocular diseases and the role of sex and gender in health and disease. She is the author of more than 120 scientific publications, journal articles, and book chapters.
Dr. Clayton, a native Washingtonian, received her undergraduate degree with honors from Johns Hopkins University and her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine. She completed a residency in ophthalmology at the Medical College of Virginia. Dr. Clayton completed fellowship training in cornea and external disease at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital and in uveitis and ocular immunology at NEI.

Dr. Clayton has received numerous awards, including the Senior Achievement Award from the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2008 and the European Uveitis Patient Interest Association Clinical Uveitis Research Award in 2010. She was selected as a 2010 Silver Fellow by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. In 2015, she was awarded the American Medical Women’s Association Lila A. Wallis Women’s Health Award and the Wenger Award for Excellence in Public Service. Dr. Clayton was granted the Bernadine Healy Award for Visionary Leadership in Women’s Health in 2016. She was also selected as an honoree for the Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards and the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Awards for Outstanding Government Service in 2017.