Foundation Partners with Michigan State University & Inforum Women’s Alliance for Major Focus on Endometriosis
EFA Co-Founders Tamer Seckin, MD and Padma Lakshmi were pleased to join famed scientist Dr. Asgi Fazleabas and noted members of the Grand Rapids scientific community for a series of exciting events focused on endometriosis on April 13 and 14, 2011. Presented by Michigan State University’s (MSU) Department of OB/GYN & Reproductive Biology and Inforum Professional Women’s Alliance, these critical education and awareness efforts kicked off April 13 with a premier dinner featuring a presentation by Ms. Lakshmi entitled “Live Well...Give Back”, wherein she detailed her evolution from an international supermodel into the multi-faceted businesswoman she is today. Inforum, one of the largest and most prestigious business forums in the nation, organized a festive VIP reception and dinner attended by more than 250 leaders from the medical, professional and scientific communities along with members of the public at the Amway Grand Plaza Wednesday evening. Known internationally as an actress, award-winning author, designer of her namesake jewelry line, style icon, food expert, successful businesswoman and host of Bravo's Emmy Award-winning series "Top Chef," Ms. Lakshmi shared how she turned her passions into her career and discussed how she finds time to continue giving back through her passionate work with the Foundation. Her engaging keynote speech was peppered with humor, personal anecdotes and encouraging advice on forging alliances and making connections that help accelerate lives. Ms. Lakshmi told the press, “as a businesswoman, my work with EFA provides a way to give back. I feel I have a responsibility to pay my success forward by also informing women through my own experience,” she said.
Inforum’s “Live Well…Give Back” gala was followed on Thursday by the MSU College of Human Medicine's women’s health symposium, “A Focus on Endometriosis”, hosted by Dr. Fazleabas, Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of OB/GYN & Reproductive Biology and an internationally recognized expert on endometriosis and infertility. MSU is home to a $6.8 million NIH-funded Specialized Cooperative Centers Program for Reproductive & Infertility Research, focused largely on translational studies regarding the etiology and pathophysiology of endometriosis along with adenomyosis and endometrial and ovarian cancers. Under the leadership of Dr. Fazleabas, the Center is leading the way in cutting-edge research in developing animal models and in vitro systems to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that may be associated with the pathology of endometriosis and develop non-invasive diagnostic tests that are so desperately needed for the early diagnosis of the disease.
The symposium launched with a warm welcome and opening remarks from Marsha Rappley, Ph.D, distinguished Dean of MSU College of Medicine and Richard Leach, Ph.D, eminent Chairperson of the Department of OB/GYN & Reproductive Biology, who spoke of the critical need to elevate women’s health as a research priority. Serving as event Moderator, Dr. Fazleabas introduced Ms. Lakshmi, who opened her life with poignant candor to a full house comprised of medical professionals, students and the public, recounting highly personal details about her decades-long, extremely painful odyssey with endometriosis. Ms. Lakshmi, who says she feels it is her mission to educate women about endometriosis, detailed her experiences from the first of her many surgeries – in which she never heard the word “endometriosis” – to finally receiving successful treatment and ultimately becoming a miracle mom. Her heartfelt honesty provided insight to living with a painful, misunderstood disease and empowered several patients in the audience to lend their own voices to the discussion. Sharing personal experiences, a common theme emerged from those in the audience: anger. Anger at not being diagnosed earlier, anger at not being given effective treatment options, anger at being largely ignored by the medical community. One woman even related her significant frustration at having to suffer - perhaps needlessly - through ineffective therapies and the extensive collateral toll it took on her personal and professional life. The event was an unprecedented opportunity for patients and professionals alike to engage in meaningful dialogue concerning the disease and work in partnership on an agenda to improve the future of endometriosis.
Following his Co-Founder, featured keynote speaker Dr. Tamer Seckin took the podium to lecture on “Endometriosis Surgery for Multiple Organ Involvement”. Educating the audience through a series of medical animations and surgical slides, Dr. Seckin discussed the science of endometriosis from origin and pathogenesis to advanced surgical treatment through expert Laparoendoscopic Excision. Ranked among America's Top Surgeons & Gynecologists, Dr. Seckin is an internationally renowned specialist in Advanced Excision Surgery for the treatment of endometriosis and associated pelvic pain pathologies. An active educator and philanthropist, he lectures around the world on endometriosis and minimally invasive gynecologic endoscopy techniques. The day closed with presentations from Grace Janik, MD and Bruce Lessey, MD, PhD, who presented “Surgical Management for Severe Endometriosis” and “New Concepts for the Diagnosis of Pain & Infertility in Minimal & Mild Endometriosis”, respectively, both sharing their laudable knowledge of the disease as it relates to pain, infertility and effective treatment.
The ensuing dialogue between the expert presenters and the audience increased awareness not only about the need for early diagnosis and gold standard treatment, but also lent several personal experiences to what is often thought of as an insignificant illness. On the contrary, endometriosis affects an estimated 176 million women and girls globally at a staggering price tag to society estimated at $22-110 billion annually. "It's unfortunate that this disease is so prevalent, and we know very little about it…women typically endure the condition 8 to 11 years before it is diagnosed because they're told it's part of growing up," Dr. Fazleabas told media at a press conference for the event.
The events were characterized by Ms. Lakshmi as “a way for us to get the word out to a large group of women who are movers and shakers…about a very important women’s issue”. Video highlights from her presentations, Dr. Seckin’s educational lecture, and key speaker features will be available for download shortly; please check back frequently.
“It is with great pleasure that the Endometriosis Foundation of America invites you to our Fourth Annual Blossom Ball,” she says. "This gala event is hosted in support of our efforts to increase disease recognition, provide advocacy, facilitate expert surgical training, and fund landmark endometriosis research. “Please join us as we celebrate the accomplishments of our honorees, Dr. Charles Koh and Dr. Hugh Taylor, help raise endometriosis awareness, and fund our mission.”