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Master's student earns Women’s Health Scholars Award

A Queen’s University student has won an award for her research into women’s health. 

[Robyn Jackowich]
Robyn Jackowich, a master’s student in clinical psychology, has received an Ontario Women’s Health Scholars Award. (Supplied Photo) 

Robyn Jackowich, a master’s student in clinical psychology, received an Ontario Women’s Health Scholars Award for her research into better understanding the menstrual cycle’s impact on chronic vulvar pain in order to help decrease pain levels.

“I feel very honoured to have been selected for an Ontario Women’s Health Scholar Award,” Ms. Jackowich says. “With this support I will have the ability of focus on research dedicated to the important issue of women’s sexual health concerns, which I hope will contribute to the well-being of many women as well as future research efforts in this area. Sexuality is an integral part of health and quality of life, and it is exciting to see this recognized by prominent funding agencies.”

Provoked vestibulodynia (PVD), which affects 12 to 16 per cent of women, is characterized by severe burning pain at the vaginal entrance in response to any contact. It has a significant negative impact on psychological and sexual well-being. The findings from Ms. Jackowich’s research will have implications for the standardization of future PVD research as well as the clinical care of women with PVD.

PVD has also proven costly to the health-care system as women often are required to consult numerous medical providers before receiving a diagnosis, and a single curative treatment has yet to be identified. As there are no physical indicators of the presence of PVD, its causes remain unknown.

Overall, nine awards were handed out, totaling $230,000, with the aim of improving the health of women through research into such issues as stroke, eating disorders, autism, postpartum depression and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

“The Women’s Health Scholars Awards are a gateway to important breakthroughs in the understanding of women’s health that will benefit not just women here in Ontario, but all around the world,” says Max Blouw, President of Wilfrid Laurier University and Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), which administers the awards.

The 2015 recipients include post-doctoral, doctoral and master’s students from eight Ontario universities who will receive scholarships of $18,000 to $40,000 each plus grants of $1,000 to $5,000 to support the research.

The awards were established in 2001 through funding from Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.