University of Chicago Women's Board

Grants Awarded for the 2023-2024 Academic Year


Department of Emergency Medicine
Medical Careers Exposure Program – MedCEEP

Awarded to Abdullah Hasan Pratt MD, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine; Symphony Fletcher, Medical Student; and Trenika Williams, PGY2 Resident Physician

African Americans and Hispanics continue to be underrepresented in medicine, making up just 11% of the physician workforce. MedCEEP’s goal is to develop a pipeline for underrepresented minority youth to enter the medical profession, as research shows that a health care workforce that mirrors the community is more effective in reducing health disparities and increasing positive health outcomes. MedCEEP is a six-session program held at high schools on Chicago’s South side, and introduces students to many different medical career options; teaches emergency response skills needed for strokes, cardiac arrests, and penetrating wounds; and includes a violence workshop, which educates students on the structural causes of violence, trauma coping skills; and conflict resolution skills. The grant will be used to fund the program at six high schools in the academic year 2023-2024.

Department of Emergency Medicine
Emergency Medicine: Self-Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections in the Emergency Department
Grant Amount Awarded: $47,200

Awarded to Kimberly Stanford, MD, MPH and Aniruddha Hazra, MD, Assistant Professor

STIs and HIV disproportionately affect minority populations, including members of the communities surrounding the University of Chicago hospital who may face significant barriers to accessing routine outpatient care, and therefore preferentially utilize the emergency department (ED) for their healthcare needs. The grant will be used to implement a novel delivery model for STI screening, decreasing stigma through confidential self-testing of community members where they already seek care: the ED. The goal is to improve early detection and treatment of STIs among the University’s community members and create an opportunity for increased access to HIV prevention.

University of Chicago Charter School
Summer at University of Chicago Charter School
Grant Amount Awarded: $27,500

Awarded to Tanika Island Childress, CEO, University of Chicago Charter School

A public, pre-K through 12th grade school on Chicago’s South Side, University of Chicago Charter School (UCCS) is steadfastly committed to serving the South Side communities surrounding the University of Chicago. Nearly 80% of UCCS’s students live in the eight neighborhoods closest to campus. The grant will provide a free summer enrichment program to rising 1st – 5th grade students at the North Kenwood/Oakland campus. The program will provide additional educational instruction to students who are struggling to meet grade level metrics. In small classes led by UCCS teachers, students will receive personalized support to build their literacy and math skills and prepare them for the upcoming school year.

University of Chicago Financial Education Initiative (UCFEI)
Financial Education Family Kits
Grant Amount Awarded: $26,624

Awarded to Rebecca Maxcy, Director, UCFEI, and Amy Dillard, Senior Curriculum Developer, UCFEI

Research shows that what children learn about money from their parents contributes to their financial well-being in adulthood, yet, many families are not proactively addressing money, and conversations are starting much later than they should. UChicago Financial Education Initiative seeks to empower all individuals to navigate the financial system with confidence, make informed and reasoned financial decisions throughout their lives, and realize long-term financial well-being. The grant will support the development, testing, and dissemination of free kits for families across a variety of backgrounds that will engage adults and children in financial education activities. The goal of these kits is to provide parents with engaging tools to address financial education with their children.


Arts + Public Life
South Side Home Movie Project: Ramon Williams Collection
Grant Amount Awarded: $45,000

Awarded to Adrienne Brown, Director, Arts+ Public Life, Associate Professor of English and Associate Professor of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity

The South Side Home Movie Project (SSHMP) seeks to increase understanding of amateur filmmaking practices, and of the many histories and diverse cultures of Chicago’s South Side. It collects, preserves, digitizes, exhibits and researches small-gauge home movies made by South Side residents. In 2022, SSHMP received its largest donation to date: 161 reels, of the rare, early 20th century collection of films by documentarian Ramon Williams. An amateur filmmaker, Williams documented the social and cultural life of Chicago’s South Side during its heyday between the 1940s and 1960s, capturing some of the only existing visual records of that period. SSHMP will receive a grant to preserve, digitize, and research this historically significant collection.

The Documentary Film Group (Doc Films)
Projecting Past and Present: Supporting the Future of Doc Films
Grant Amount Awarded: $45,000

Awarded to Hannah Yang, Student

The oldest student film society in the country, Doc Films is run by over 100 volunteers and presents roughly 450 unique screenings each year, providing an eclectic survey of community-driven film programming. Doc Film’s last major theater upgrade was the installation of its current digital projector 10 years ago. In the past few years, Doc Films has had frequent equipment malfunctions and a noticeably failing quality in film presentation, resulting in cancellations, limits to programming, and lowered attendance. Doc Films will receive a grant to repair its sound system and control tower, as well as to repair its two 35mm projectors, allowing Doc Films to show films in the way they were meant to be shown.


Office of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (HEDI)
Medical Spanish Elective and Standardized Patient Practice
Grant Amount Awarded: $23,000

Awarded to Andrea Gomez, Medical Student; Dominic Montas, Medical Student; Manuel Panzardi, Medical Student; Sonia Oyola, MD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine; Jeanne Farnan, MD MHPE, Professor of Medicine

In some neighborhoods immediately surrounding the UChicago Medical Center (UCMC), 86% of households are Spanish-speaking and communicating effectively with patients of these households is essential for them to receive quality health care. The next generation of medical professionals should be equipped to address the needs of our UCMC patients and provide language-concordant care that is offered to the patient in their preferred language. Providing a Medical Spanish course, which is already offered at 78% of medical schools and at peer institutions such as UIC and Loyola, would help to recruit Spanish-speaking students and faculty to the medical school. Pritzker School of Medicine will receive a grant to support the development of a Medical Spanish Elective course.


Artificial Intelligence-Guided Autonomous High-Throughput Battery Manufacturing Platform to Accelerate Scientific Discoveries
Grant Amount Awarded: $50,000

Awarded to Chibueze Amanchukwu, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor, and Ritesh Kumar, Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellow

Novel scientific and technological approaches are required to address climate change. Battery chemistries with energy densities greater than Li-ion and costs cheaper than Li-ion are required for decarbonizing the electric grid and transportation. However, battery materials discovery and testing are often based on trial-and-error and have stymied the development of next generation batteries. With their grant, The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering will develop an automated robotic assembly and testing platform that will assist in the discovery of novel liquid electrolytes and then fabricate a variety of batteries using the electrolytes and test their efficiencies and cycle lives. This work will allow UChicago to usher in a new paradigm for battery materials discovery that will accelerate the deployment of next generation batteries worldwide.

Department of Pathology
Homologous Recombination Deficiency (HRD) in Uterine Leiomyosarcomas:
A Genomic and Transcriptomic Analysis
Grant Amount Awarded: $46,000

Awarded to Jennifer A. Bennett, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Pathology

Uterine leiomyosarcoma (LMS) is a clinically aggressive sarcoma, with recurrences in approximately 40% of patients, despite surgery. The most active chemotherapy regimens in advanced/recurrent cases have response rates of 15-35% and median progression-free survival of 4-6 months. Furthermore, Black women have a two-fold higher risk of developing LMS, as well as decreased overall survival. Thus, there remains an unmet need for identifying effective and novel therapeutic regimens. The grant will fund research to determine the incidence of homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) in LMS, compare the clinical outcomes between patients with HRD versus non-HRD tumors, and investigate the differentially expressed genes between the two groups with the goal to develop new treatment options for LMS patients.

Department of Medicine / Cardiology
Mechanisms and Therapeutic Targets at the Intersection of Atrial Fibrillation and Aging
Grant Amount Awarded: $45,187

Awarded to Cevher Ozcan, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder by affecting 9% of those older than 65. It can cause stroke, heart failure, dementia, and death. There is presently no strategy to prevent AF in the elderly since the mechanism of AF with aging is unknown. This grant will enable the investigation of: 1) mechanisms of increased risk of AF, 2) novel therapies to prevent AF, and 3) biomarkers to predict AF with aging. Additionally, the department will test novel strategies for predicting, preventing and treating the disease.

Department of Pathology
How T Cell Distinguish Self from Non-Self: Leveraging Human Genetic Variation to Uncover Mechanisms of Immune Tolerance
Grant Amount Awarded: $37,575

Awarded to Caroline Kaiser, Graduate Student, and Andrew Koh, Assistant Professor of Pathology

Autoimmune diseases affect millions of individuals worldwide, with ~80% being women. A major cause of autoimmunity is the escape of self-reactive immune cells, called T cells, from the thymus, which subsequently attack the body’s own constituents. This grant will fund research to identify and validate the molecular mechanisms that promote T cell repertoire selection and immune tolerance, especially those underpinning the heightened incidence of autoimmune disease in women.

Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations and the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures (ISAC)
Pots of Empowerment: Engaging Iraqi-Kurdish Women in Uncovering the Medieval Past
Grant Amount Awarded: $33,825

Awarded to Mehrnoush Soroush, Assistant Professor of Landscape Archaeology, and Seth Priestman, Ph.D, Honorary Fellow, Department of Archaeology, Durham University (UK) Ph.D

Archaeologists rely on catalogs of ceramic types called ceramic typologies, but western projects have created these mainly for pre-Islamic times, overlooking hundreds of sites from the Islamic period. Additionally, although local populations often provide mostly male labor for archeological research, they are given little opportunity to share in data analyses. This grant will support a three-year pilot project that will build a team of female ceramicists to help create ceramic typologies of the Islamic period in Iraq’s Kurdistan Governorate. This will help scholars understand the archaeology of the region in the Medieval period, will create unprecedented professional-development opportunities for female cultural heritage employees, and will encourage archaeologists at western institutions to engage more meaningfully with local collaborators, especially women.

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Bionic Breast: Focus on Educating Everyone about Sensation Loss and Pain (FEEL) Project
Grant Amount Awarded: $30,000

Awarded to Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, MAPP, Catherine Lindsay Dobson Professor of Obstetrics-Gynecology and Medicine-Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine; Sarah Shubeck, MD, MS, Assistant Professor Department of Surgery; Amy Siston, PhD, Certified Sex Therapist, Assistant Prof of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Director Psycho-Oncology Service

Trials for the Bionic Breast, an implantable, neuro-prosthetic device that restores touch sensation and mitigates pain post-mastectomy, are planned for Q3 2023. Patient interviews conducted in preparation for the trial have revealed a need to document women’s experiences with breast numbness and pain post-mastectomy. The Bionic Breast project will receive funds to develop and disseminate professionally-produced, evidence-based educational videos featuring patients and surgeons that will be used to educate potential trial participants and referring surgeons to raise awareness about loss of breast function and pain following mastectomy.

Department of Chemistry
Creating A Fully Automated Molecular Synthesizer with an Atom-by-Atom Strategy
Grant Amount Awarded: $30,600

Awarded to Guangbin Dong, Weldon G. Brown Professor of Chemistry

Organic molecules play critical roles by serving as drugs, agrochemicals, materials, fuels, cosmetics, food additives, and household chemicals. New molecules are constantly needed for various purposes, however, access to new organic compounds is an arduous, time-consuming process requiring special expertise. Borrowing from commercial production of peptides, which are much more efficient to make due to their repetitive structure, this grant will support research to develop how new organic molecules could be made with an “atom-by-atom” synthetic strategy, resulting in a fully automated preparation method for almost any organic molecule in a matter of days.