Virginia Miller, Ph.D., director of the Women’s Health Research Center at Mayo Clinic, has spent her career researching how heart disease differs in women and men. On Feb. 10, she was honored for that work with a Woman’s Day Red Dress Award in New York City.
She received the award along with others who have made contributions in the fight against heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women today. Other award winners are: Andie MacDowell, actress and Go Red For Women spokesperson; CVS Health, the first national pharmacy chain to end tobacco sales; Margaret Hamburg, M.D., Former Commissioner of Food and Drugs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Jennifer Donelan, WJLA TV ABC 7 reporter in Washington, D.C., and a heart attack survivor.
Dr. Miller’s research focuses on how sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, affect the blood vessels and heart in women and men, as well as the role of other gender differences in cardiovascular health.
An important part of her research is to advocate for research that is sex-specific, meaning that research studies include both men and women, and that the results are analyzed separately by sex. Historically, and today even, that has not always happened, but it is so important, Dr. Miller says. “It is poor science to study one sex and apply the results to the other,” she says. “In the end, that does not help health care providers treat patients the best they can. With heart disease still as the No. 1 cause of death in women and men, we need to continue to research in the best ways possible in order to treat heart disease.”
Dr. Miller was the principal investigator for the Mayo site of the multicenter clinical trial, Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) and is currently the principal investigator for the Specialized Center of Research on Sex Differences. She also has authored more than 250 original publications and reviews. In addition to serving on grant review panels and editorial boards for scientific journals, she served as a member of the governing council for the American Physiological Society and as President of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences.
Sharonne Hayes, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and founder of Mayo Clinic's Women's Heart Clinic, also won a Woman's Day Red Dress Award in 2009.