MIT event panelists discuss how science can help doctors better diagnosis and treat women’s diseases
A panel of expert clinicians, scientists, and patients from the MIT community recently reacted to a screening of the endometriosis documentary Below the Belt and explained why excision surgery “is not the answer” for patients with endometriosis. Nearly 300 people attended the Sept. 14, 2022, event to hear panelists discuss women’s reproductive health. They heard first-person stories from the experts about the challenges of integrating basic and clinical research to improve patient care. They emphasized the need for a multi-faceted approach beyond just surgery in meeting the needs of endometriosis patients.
The panel was part of a series of gatherings on the MIT campus that included a Stand Up and Be Counted (for Women’s Health) rally and the documentary screening. The film follows four patients urgently searching for answers to mysterious symptoms, then eventually diagnosed and treated for endometriosis. The events were accompanied by an awareness-raising letter, authored by two event participants, host Linda Griffith and panel member Tavneet Suri, in the MIT student newspaper, The Tech.
Affecting approximately 1 in 10 women globally, endometriosis, and its sister disease adenomyosis, can cause debilitating pain for sufferers. However, both culturally and medically, it’s not a widely recognized condition. Below the Belt film director and producer Shannon Cohn explained that the film is intended to help change that.
After previewing the film with the audience, the panel discussed the “real landscape” — clinically and socially — for women’s reproductive health today. Their comments also aimed to help destigmatize the study of menstruation, through the precise language of science.
Women’s Health Discussion Panelists
Chris BobelProfessor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston
Aleshia Carlsen-BryanAssociate Director, Career Advising & Professional Development, MIT
Keith IsaacsonMedical Director, Newton Wellesley Hospital Center for Minimally Invasive Gynecology Surgery, and Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Stacey MissmerProfessor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Michigan State University; Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and Lecturer in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; President-Elect, World Endometriosis Society
Peter MovillaAssociate Medical Director, Newton Wellesley Hospital Center for Minimally Invasive Gynecology Surgery
Nyia NoelMedical Director, Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery, Boston Medical Center; Assistant Professor of OBGYN at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine; founder, BMC Fibroid Center
Tavneet SuriProfessor of Applied Economics at MIT’s Sloan School
Event Co-Host: Shannon CohnFilm director/producer, lawyer, and activist