Medical Faculty Women's Association


University of Southern California

v MFWA Newsletter v


May - Newsletter No. 97, Contents:

Visit from Dr. Susan Harris

Upcoming MFWA events

Letter from the president

In memory: Dr. Jeanine Chalabian

MFWA research awardees

Salary inequity

MFWA sponsored speaker: Dr. Helen Caldicott

Study of pregnancy-associated immune function

MFWA officers 1997-1998


MFWA Sponsored an Inspiring Visit from Dr. Susan Harris

Last year, MFWA sponsored the visit of Dr. Susan Harris, Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of British Columbia. During her visit she spoke to members of the MFWA and guests on "Breast Cancer and Exercise: Evidence-Based Practice from a Consumer's Perspective" in the Center for Health Professions, and the reception following the talk was sponsored by the USC Department of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy. Dr. Harris's visit was also sponsored by the Kenneth Norris Hospital Breast Center where she spoke during their noon conference the following day on "Prevention, Measurement and Management of Lymphedema". Those wishing a copy of the bibliographies or more information on how to obtain the 6 minute inspirational video regarding the "Abreast in a Boat" dragon-boat team produced for airing on the CBC can contact Dr. Carolee Winstein in the Department of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy (

Dr. Harris, a well know researcher in the area of pediatric rehabilitation, shared with us the journey she has made from her established research focus to that of exercise and breast cancer. Just over two years ago, Dr. Harris suddenly became a medical consumer in need of information on how to manage her own postoperative rehabilitation after diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. Review of prevailing practices in the postoperative management revealed that there had been no randomized clinical trials to determine a knowledge-based course of action. The prevailing view in physical therapy has long been that a woman should not exercise the ipsilateral arm after a mastectomy to minimize development of lymphedema. However, for a lifelong jock like Dr. Harris, giving up exercise would have been as difficult as giving up her Starbucks! Consultation with a colleague in exercise physiology at UBC, Don McKenzie, MD, eventually lead to the decision to conduct a controlled experimental study on whether exercise promotes lymph-edema following mastectomy.

As a result of their collaboration, the first all-woman, middle-aged dragon boat racing team was born. The team, named "Abreast in a Boat", is composed of 20 women, all breast cancer survivors, ranging in age from 30 to 63 years. The team undertook a serious training regime that included weight lifting and aerobics training in addition to the dragon boat training. Team mem-bers were matched with control subjects receiving routine postoperative care and limb girth measures were taken on all subjects to test the prevailing hypothesis that repetitive upper-body motion causes lymph-edema. Data indi-cate that none of the team members de-veloped lymphedema in response to the increased exercise level (manuscript in preparation). Further, the team surpri-sed even themselves in outperforming some of their younger competitors at the Vancouver International Dragon Boat Festival in June 1996! The team is now in training for the 1998 festival to be held in New Zealand. What was clear from Dr. Harris's visit is that these ladies are on a mission to promote awareness and improvements in the rehabilitation of breast cancer survivors (including males). These are women who inspire.

Submitted by Nina Bradley, Ph.D.




May 6th, 12-1.30 pm

Dossier Preparation for Faculty Appointments and Promotion

Sandy Mosteller

Call 342-2554 for details


May 13th, 8.30 am

Lifestyle Redesign

MFWA Donor Reception

Florence A. Clark, Ph.D.

Call 342-3292 for details


May 13th, 6 pm

Menopause: New Frontiers

Judy Reichman, M.D.

Call 625-2211 for details




Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The first time I heard about the Medical Faculty Women's Association (MFWA) was many years ago through their Research Award Program (for which I applied and didn't get...). A few years later I heard again about the MFWA, but this time through Dr. Florence Hofman, who invited me to join. First I was confused because I thought, as many of you think, that this organization is for Medical Faculty and I am Dental faculty, so I mentioned it to Florence. She explained to me that the MFWA is composed by women faculty of all the Health Professions including Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Occupa-tional Therapy and Physical Therapy/ Biokinesiology. She was so enthusiastic about this organization (she sent me immediately a membership application) that I decided to join. I never dreamed that a few years later I would have the honor to serve as MFWA President for the 1997/1998 period!

As a member of the MFWA, I had the opportunity to meet many other women faculty (outside from my own school and department) from which I have enjoyed talking, exchanging ideas and learning about all aspects of professional life, particularly life in this University. I have found the association, their members, programs and activities to be of great assistance and benefit to my own development as a professional woman, an educator, a mentor and a researcher.

The MFWA has sponsored several events of great interest for everybody including informal dinners with accomplished women such as: the Vice Provost for Faculty and Minority Affairs, Barbara Solomon; Member of the Board (amongst many) of the United Cancer Research Society Inc. and Women of Los Angeles, Alice A. Seebach Esq.; Financial Consultant Domna Del Rio. Presentations by Peter Fiebelman, author of the book entitled: "A Ph.D. Is NOT Enough"; Dr. Susan Harris, a physical therapist from the University of British Columbia. who talked about life after breast cancer and Dr. Helen Caldicott who talked about "Physicians' Responsibility to Their Patients". MFWA has also sponsored programs for graduate students and the public in general that have been extremely well received. I have personally enjoyed these types of activities tremendously.

As President of the MFWA, I have the privilege to work with the most enthusiastic and caring women that form the several different Committees of the MFWA Executive Committee. All of them have worked very hard to organize all the different activities and programs including this newsletter. I sincerely thank each one of them for their support and hard work. The MFWA Faculty Development Committee has been working very hard to help and mentor young and/or new faculty in the USC (or any other place) professional life. Although women have come a long way, there are still a few stones in the pavement that need to be removed. The job is easier done when we work together and when we do it in an organized form (like the MFWA) it will leave an indelible mark. I hope that those of you who are MFWA members will continue to do so and participate in as many MFWA activities as you can. Those of you who are not members, I hope that you will seriously consider joining the MFWA. Your membership, and participation, will do much to advance our visibility and status as Faculty and members of the USC community.


Maggie Zeichner-David, Ph.D.




Jeanine Chalabian, M.D. 1962-1997

Jeanine was born February 24, 1962 in Huntington Beach, California. She majored in Psycho-Biology at USC in 1984, and obtained a Masters in Health Services Administration from the USC School of Public Administration in 1985. Jeanine then attended USC School of Medicine, and graduated with Highest Distinction in 1992. She subsequently started her residency in General Surgery at the LAC-USC Medical Center. During her residency, Jeanine realized that with the explosion of new surgical technologies and procedures, learning the basic skills currently required of new surgeons is becoming increasingly challenging. In order to try and meet this challenge and improve current teaching methods, Jeanine took a leave from her residency to get a PhD in Educational Psychology and Tech-nology at the USC School of Education. As part of her PhD studies, Jeanine put together the grant that resulted in the new $3 million Surgical Technical Skills Research and Education Center. Jeanine was to be the center's director.

Jeanine is survived by her two sons, Matthew and Brett, her parents Harlene and Jack Chalabian, her sister Jackie and brother Steven. donations for Jeanine's children may be made to the 'Jeanine Chalabian Memorial Fund' 16458 Bolsa Chica Street, Box 255, Huntington Beach, CA 92649.

She was an amazing woman. We miss her.



The Executive Board of the USC University Hospital Guild is donating it's financial support for 1997-1998 to the Surgical Technical Skills Research and Eduation Center. It was chosen, according to the Guild's announcement, because it "promises to immediately address the need for additional training for first and second year surgical residents to meet the challenges of expanding technological progress in surgery." The Guild wants to fund the development of the laparoscopic module in the Center, and "takes pride in its potential contribution to the first and only facility of its type in the entire U.S., truly an accomplishment for the USC School of Medicine. Dr. Glenn T. Ault is the Acting Director of the Center.

Committee Members who made the selection include Chair Mary Kay Arbuthnot, Alli Solu, Millie Farnsworthy, Bernice Christenson, Candy Duncan, Audrey Grundy, Carol DeMeester, Patti McDonald and Nancy Help. We know that Jeanine would be thrilled.

Submitted by Erin Quinn, Ph.D.


Memories of Jeanine Chalabian

I was Program Director of the Surgical Residency Program at USC when Jeanine was recruited as a resident out of medical school. I knew her best, however, as my Fellow in Educational Research for the two years prior to her death. During that time she exhibited incredible potential as both a very gifted teacher and a researcher in education. Her scholarly productivity over those two years were phenomenal as she completed her Ph.D in Educational Psychology, was involved with teaching on the student and resident level, conducted outstanding educational research, and still found time to be a wonderful mother to her children. I forever cherish my memories of Jeanine as one of the most remarkable young women I have ever known. She was a woman of great passion and compassion, vision, and a sense of balance in life. I miss her as a friend and colleague.

Gary Dunnington, M.D., Department of General Surgery, Southern Illinois University


Jeanine Chalabian was an unusual individual with the ability to respond to the needs and interests of others. While extremely capable, motivated, and forward thinking in her own right; she assisted and supported others in their own quest for the same characteristics. She was an excellent teacher who excelled at the clear and simple explanation, the right approach, and the gentle prodding and encouragement which helped students learn. Her chosen career in training in surgical skills would have been immensely enriched by her contributions and it is a tragedy that the plans were so shortened. Fortunately, she has left a rich legacy of admiring friends, enthusiastic students, and a generation of surgical trainees who will benefit from her contribution to our world. She and her family can take pride in all that she did accomplish in a short time.

Beverly Wood, M.D., Dept. of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital


Many notable landmarks in arts and sciences are characterized by deceptive simplicity, in which the magnitude and complexity of the achievement are somehow concealed by the apparent ease and spontaneity of the solution. The people who make such advances stand in sharp contrast to other high profile figures who externalize their work in hyperbolical and extravagant excess. Surgeons often belong to this latter category. But Jeanine Chalabian clearly possessed the ability to accomplish much but make it look easy. In her short career as a surgeon and inves-tigator, she overcame the tremendous inertia imposed by the intimidating bureaucracy to carry out studies which have important implications for the education of future generations of surgeons. In addition, she managed to carry out the exacting duties of being a surgical resident, characteristically concealing from colleagues the intense difficulties of combining family responsibilities with the consumptive demands of a surgical career.      

My own personal experience was much influenced by the fact that in her rational and unassuming way she changed my attitudes and mindset towards her specialty of medical edu-cation, from one of detached scepticism to one of engagement and involvement. In our many discussions of these topics she never gave vent to impatience or frustration at my objections but seemed to think it a challenge to explain in a rational way why she believed what she did. I miss her very much but her influ-ence has left a permanent legacy in my attitudes and thought processes. At the personal level away from work, we shared several evenings in each others' homes in the company of colleagues whose warm hearted friendship and love of the broader things of life was nurtured by the environment which Jeanine created wherever she went. Though we still feel the loss keenly, we are all grateful to have come within her orbit and be inspired and encouraged by her example.

Peter Crookes, M.D., Dept. of Surgery


I first met Jeanine about three years ago, when she introduced herself to me at an MFWA event. She had such a pleasant manner; I felt immediately at ease with her. She had a way of making a person feel appreciated that was quite unique, and endearing. At that time, she expressed an interest in being more involved in the MFWA, offering to lend a hand and asking where she might be needed most. She told me that she had chosen a somewhat unconventional path in her career, interrupting her surgical residency to pursue a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (& Technology). Although she worried about the risks she was taking, she felt that it was the best way for her to accomplish all that she wanted to do. She had a vision, and I admired her courage and her energy at that time. Although we had many opportunities to talk after that first conversation, I didn't know about most of her accomplishments until her untimely death brought them into focus. She certainly did not wear or present them for others to see as a sign of her worth; instead, she seemed to use them to build on new ideas and to fuel her enthusiasm for more. I was intuitively, but vaguely, aware of this form of humility in her, but I really didn't realize how deep its roots were in her character. I think she may have regarded her pain in the same way, bearing it, learning from it, moving forward. I am, as I know we all are, deeply troubled by the manner of her death, and by the loss of this wonderful, kind and caring individual.

Wendy Gilmore, Ph.D.Department of Neurology


There was something about Jeanine that attracted me to her. I liked her quiet manner, and I especially like it when she laughed. She had a beautiful laugh. She was one of a few people that I could count on completely to do things for me or for the students. We knew each other from MFWA but then we became closer when we both went to the AAMC meeting in Washington D.C. That must be 3 or 4 years ago. We talked quite a bit, mainly about children and the struggle we go though as working mothers- she loved being a mother. She never talked about her husband, and I never asked.

We went to lunch when we could, I introduced her to "La Abeja" my favorite place. She liked it too. She seemed comfortable in any setting, and she had the most beautiful hands. A week or so before she died she was in my office, I was admiring her hands, so petite and delicate. I teased her about how could she be so strong as a surgeon with such delicate hands. She had beautiful hands, and she had a beautiful heart.

I miss her.

Erin Quinn, Ph.D., Assoc. Dean For Women and Disabled Issues/ Department of Family Medicine



MFWA Research Awardees

Summary Reports


The intracellular localization of kidney argininosuccinate synthetase and argininosuccinate lyase, and their respective mRNAs.

PI: Natalie Cohen

The aims of this project were to determine the intracellular location of the proteins and the mRNAs of two soluble cytoplasmic enzymes in rat kidney cortex, using immunocyto-chemistry and in situ reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction at the electron microscope level. These enzymes are strictly localized around mitochondria in the liver, where they perform a different physiological function. The intracellular organization of soluble proteins is a significant and basic feature of cells, and is important for normal cell function, but the underlying mechanisms are not understood. This is basic research, but by studying such organization in normal cells, we will gain insights into cell metabolism, growth and differentiation, processes which are disrupted in many diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and some developmental disorders.

The MFWA seed funds were used for reagents and for fee-for service electron microscopy at the Doheny Eye Institute. Quantitative examination of the electron micrographs received so far indicates that the enzymes are predominantly in the basal portion of the proximal tubule cells (a cell region packed with mitochondria), and largely adjacent to the mitochondria. Because of high background, however, better micrographs are needed if they are to be used for publication and for a grant proposal. The in situ RT-PCR work to determine if the RNAs are similarly localized also needs to be repeated, as the non-specific background was too high to permit proper quantitative analysis of the micrographs. I am currently continuing these studies to obtain the necessary micrographs, and I plan to submit a proposal for further funding for this project as soon as possible. I am sincerely grateful to the MFWA for supporting these pilot studies, which would have been impossible without this support.


The influence of ovarian hormones and physical activity on bone mineral density, bone formation, and bone resorption in young women.

PI: Victoria Jacque

This study will provide pilot data describing the relationships between levels of reproductive hormones, physical activity, bone mineral density, and indices of bone formation and resorption in young women. Preliminary analysis of the data suggests that subtle variations in luteal phase estradiol levels are associated with significant differences in bone mineral density in normally menstruating college-aged women. Thus, in those with no outward signs of menstrual dysfunction, lower levels of estrogen may impair the ability to accumulate bone in the college years, which corresponds to the late phase of peak bone mass accumulation. This would increase a young woman's future risk of osteoporosis. We are currently in the process of evaluating the physical activity data in this study. Therefore, the combined influences of physical activity and ovarian hormones levels on bone turnover and bone mineral density are not yet known.

Receiving this grant has enabled me to establish collaborative relationships with researchers at Stanford, and has resulted in my inclusion as a site PI for a multi-center NIH proposal submission to determine the factors influencing late bone mass accumulation in young women. The results from this pilot study have also enabled me to submit other grant proposals. We are currently awaiting news on the funding status of these proposals.



Salary Inequity: Does It Matter in the Long Run?

An investigation a few years back concluded that there are no salary inequities between the genders on this campus. We hope this is still true, and encourage you to keep improving your negotiating skills. Just to remind you how small salary differences make a substantial impact over the years, we suggest that you read the following example.

Example: If A earns $10,000 more than B each year and they both have 20 years until retirement. How much more money will A have than B at retirement?

For these calculations we will assume that A puts 5% before tax into an retirement account, USC's matching retirement contribution remains at 10%, and the marginal tax rate is 35%. We will further assume that A puts the full after tax income into a long-term investment plan with an expected investment return of 8%, and that the salary growth rate per year is 5% for A and B.

Results: At retirement, A will have $513,626 more than B. Translated to today's purchasing power (assuming an inflation rate of 4%), this comes out to be $234,412.



The MFWA Sponsors a Talk by Helen Caldicott

On the evening of November 19, 1997, approximately 40 members of the USC community gathered in the Edmondson Faculty Center to hear acclaimed antinuclear activist, Helen Caldicott, speak on "Physicians Responsibility." Dr. Caldicott, an Australian physician and acclaimed antinuclear activist, was co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility and founder of the Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament and International Physicians to Save the Environment. She has written four books, including Nuclear Madness: What You Can Do, first published in 1978 (revised edition, 1994) and a more recent autobiography entitled A Desparate Passion. Dr. Caldicott began her talk in her customary fiery provocative style, challenging the medical community to fight the changes in health care that threaten to frame medical decisions in the profit-seeking corporate structure of the HMOs. She discussed the potential, and actual, loss of the personal physician-patient relationship that has traditionally guided patient care. She then focused her comments on the dangers of the American nuclear power industry and its impact on international nuclear power, and other environmental issues. Interestingly, particularly in light of the current conflict over the inspection of biological weapons facilities in Iraq, she spoke of the growing arsenal of chemical and biological weapons in the United States. Perhaps one of her most memorable remarks, made prior to this subject, was that "America is vertically challenged in terms of morality".

In the remaining time, Dr. Caldicott expressed her passionate concern for the destructive power of nuclear technology and the possibility that solutions are out of our current reach. At the end of her talk, Dr. Caldicott's offer to answer questions was initially met with what can perhaps be best described as a stunned silence that was broken by questions about the sources of her information and what action she might recommend as a remedy for her concerns. As the gathering broke up, Dr. Caldicott graciously stayed behind to answer additional questions on a more one-on-one basis. We are grateful for her willingness to speak to us, and for the help and co-sponsorship provided by Physicians for Social Responsibility. Special thanks are due to Erin Quinn for arranging the opportunity to hear this remarkable woman's views.

For further information, you can access Dr. Caldicott's website at hcaldic.

Submitted by Wendy Gilmore, Ph.D.



Pregnant Women Needed for a Study of Pregnancy-Associated Immune Function

We are currently conducting a study of immune function during pregnancy and the post-partum period in women with the demyelinating disease, multiple sclerosis (MS). The purpose of the study is to identify possible mechanisms by which disease activity remits during pregnancy, and returns during the post-partum period. In addition to MS patients, we are also enrolling healthy pregnant women as control subjects. The study involves donation of a blood sample once during each trimester of pregnancy, and two to three times during the post-partum period. If you are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy, and would like to participate, please contact Wendy Gilmore, Ph.D. for further details at (213) 342-1054 (or email: (

Thank you!


MFWA Officers 1997-1998


Maggie Zeichner David, Ph.D




Silvia Formenti, M.D.




Carolee Winstein, Ph.D.




Maria Ramirez - Office for Women




Wendy Gilmore, Ph.D



Professional Development Committee:

Zea Borok, Ph.D.


Florence Hofman, Ph.D.



Program Committee:

Carolee Winstein, Ph.D.


Rodanthi Kitridou, M.D.



Membership Committee:

Nina Bradley, Ph.D.



Newsletter Committee:

Giske Ursin, M.D., Ph.D.   


Linda Chan, Ph.D.



Student Liason Committee:

Erin Quinn, Ph.D.


Judy Garner, Ph.D.


Janet Oldak, Ph.D.



By-laws Committee:

Ruth Peters, Sc.D.


Susan Groshen, Ph.D.




Nancy Warner M.D.

Natalie Alexander Ph.D.



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Last update 11/12/99