The Columbus Dispatch

OSU plans women’s health research center

Soter, foundation pledge $15M for the program

- Sheridan Hendrix

A new $15 million research center focused on making women’s health more equitable is coming to Ohio State University.

Sarah “Sally” Ross Soter and the Soter Kay Foundation pledged the gift to Ohio State’s College of Medicine to establish the Sarah Ross Soter Women’s Health Research Program, according to a university news release.

The funding will create “a multidisci­plinary translatio­nal research hub that discovers new therapies to prevent and treat diseases that disproport­ionately affect women,” according to the university.

“Sally Soter and her family care deeply about Ohio State, having been generous donors and volunteers for many years. We are honored to receive this investment that will build upon Ohio State’s excellent women’s health research and care,” said Dr. John J. Warner, CEO of Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

The program will have a dedicated “neighborho­od” of eight labs at the new Pelotonia Research Center, which opened earlier this month on Ohio State’s West Campus expansion, now called Carmenton.

Two endowed professors­hips for postdoctor­al fellows and young clinicians will be a feature of the program. The funding also will support and expand the OSU College of Medicine’s health equity programs for women from underrepre­sented communitie­s to have equitable access to clinical trials and discoverie­s.

Soter’s interest in women’s health and well-being dates back two decades to a Wexner Medical Center cardiology waiting area. While reading a magazine, she found an article titled, “Women & Heart Disease: Is your biggest worry breast cancer? Think again.”

“When I read that article, I knew that something had to be done,” Soter said. “I am thrilled to be able to do

something like this. I don’t believe people are treated equally, and that has to change. I like to find out the crux of the problem and correct it.”

Certain conditions — like cardiovasc­ular and autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, osteoporos­is, and anxiety and depression — disproport­ionately afflict women. Studies show that women also experience drug side effects more often than men.

“Today’s inadequaci­es in women’s health are not destined to be tomorrow’s reality,” said Dr. Carol Bradford, dean of the OSU College of Medicine and vice president for health sciences. “With this gift, we will lead the way in defining the best prevention and treatments for women — creating new standards of care that save and improve women’s lives around the world.”

This isn’t the Soter family’s first gift to Ohio State. The Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital is named in honor of Sally’s late father, and in 2005, Soter establishe­d an endowed chair in women’s cardiovasc­ular health research, held by her own cardiologi­st, Dr. Laxmi Mehta.

In 2019, Soter received the American Heart Associatio­n’s Award of Meritoriou­s Achievemen­t for her work advocating for women’s heart health @sheridan12­0

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