Matt Schorr
March 16, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal condition that can impact women’s ability to have children, isn’t well understood. Women suffering from it are more likely to develop health problems like Type 2 Diabetes or high blood pressure. Further complicating matters, up to 75 percent of women go undiagnosed.


Ky'Era Actkins, a Meharry Medical College (MMC) PhD candidate completing her thesis research in Dr. Nancy Cox’s lab through the Precision Medicine and Health Disparities Collaborative (PMHDC), hopes to bring better understanding to PCOS’s patterns in diverse populations. She examined those patterns for her presentation at MMC's Student Research Day – an annual event showcasing projects by students, residents and post-doctoral fellows – on March 11.


Examining PCOS

“PCOS is one of the most common endocrine disorders among reproductive-age women, and one of the leading causes of infertility,” Actkins said. “Delayed treatment can exacerbate other conditions and be detrimental to high risk, minority populations.”

To better understand PCOS’s patterns, Actkins examined symptoms and clinical notes, ultimately compiling a database of patients exhibiting more classically diagnosable PCOS characteristics among women of European and African descent.

“African American patients have higher odds of having metabolism-related diseases and reproductive diseases compared to white patients,” she noted.


Student Research Day

Meharry Medical College prides itself on being one of the first medical schools to hold a Student Research Day.

The annual event dates back to 1956 and was held in connection with Meharry’s 80th anniversary. Dr. Charles W. Johnson founded the program, and Dr. Landry E. Burgess was its first chairman.

Students, residents and post-doctoral fellows in the Schools of Allied Health, Dentistry, Medicine and Graduate Studies and Research have participated for the past six decades.


About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.