BIRCWH Leadership Team

Pauline M. Maki, PhD

Pauline M. Maki, PhD
Program Director, Principal Investigator
Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and OB/GYN
Senior Director of Research, Center for Research on Women & Gender

For the past 23 years, Dr. Pauline Maki has led a program of NIH-funded research on women, cognition, mood and dementia, with a particular focus on the menopause. She has 175+ research publications in women’s health and leads a program of research on neuroAIDS in women. She is credited with conducting the earliest studies to identify the brain targets of hormone therapy in women and implementing the largest longitudinal study of the natural and treated history of HIV on cognition in women living with HIV. She has contributed to multiple expert panels and positions statements. Recently, she co-led a task force with Susan Kornstein, MD that resulted in the first published guidelines for identifying and treating perimenopausal depression, along with a systematic review of the literature supporting those guidelines (Maki, Kornstein et al., 2018). She has contributed to position statements and practice guidelines on staging menopause (Harlow et al., 2012; cited 900+ times), use of hormone therapy for VMS (North American Menopause Society, 2012; cited 647+ times), non-hormonal therapies for VMS (Carpenter, 2015), and others. Dr. Maki is Past President of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), Current Trustee of the International Menopause Society, Chair of the Society for Women’s Health Research Interdisciplinary Network on Alzheimer’s Disease, and Past Head of the Neurocognitive Working Group of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. She is on the editorial board for Menopause and Women’s Midlife Health. She won the 2018 Woman in Science Award from the American Medical Women’s Association and the Thomas B. Clarkson Outstanding Clinical and Basic Science Research Award from the NAMS. Now she serves as Co-PI on an RF1, Multi-PI on an R03, Co-I on 2 other R01s, PI on two NIH-funded pilot studies, and Multi-PI on a contract from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Throughout her career, Dr. Maki has made mentorship a priority at the assistant professor, graduate students, and undergraduate levels. From 2010-17 she served as Program Director of the BIRCWH and thereafter as Program Director of the Bridge Program. At UIC, she has mentored 17 junior faculty through: K awards (4), the BIRCWH (as Leadership Team Mentor to 5 Scholars), the BIRCWH Associates Program (as Leadership Team Mentor to 3 Scholars) and HIV training grants (2). She currently mentors an Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Scholar and four graduate students in the Behavioral Neuroscience Division of the Department of Psychology. She has also mentored graduate students through the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and the Medical Student Training Program. Her students and trainees have published first-author papers in high impact journals such as Neurology, Biological Psychiatry, and AIDS. Twenty undergraduate research volunteers are active in her lab, including 16 underrepresented minority students, most of whom contribute to work on perinatal depression. In 2015, she was honored with the first Capstone Mentor of the Year award from the Honors College. For five successive years, she was elected to the UIC and Statewide University of Illinois College of Medicine Executive Committees, providing regular communication with the Deans of Medicine in Chicago, Urbana-Champaign, Rockford, and Peoria. She also served on the College of Medicine Mentorship Program Committee, which implemented a college-wide mentoring program for all Assistant Professors. She serves as co-Chair of the FAAC-DI and reports to the Dean of the College of Medicine on the status of women and minority faculty and make recommendations for appropriate training and policy solutions to advance these missions.

Irina A. Buhimschi, MD, MMS

Irina A. Buhimschi, MD, MMS
Program Director, Principal Investigator
Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Director, Perinatal Research Laboratory
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine

Irina A Buhimschi, MD is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Director of the Perinatal Research laboratory in the UIC College of Medicine. Her research is highly translational and is focused on important problems in perinatal medicine such as preterm birth and preeclampsia. Her investigations into the pathogenesis of these conditions converge into practical solutions aimed at optimizing maternal and perinatal outcomes through systems biology approaches. Over the last decade, the Buhimschi laboratory has embarked on discovery of biomarkers for prediction of preterm birth and preeclampsia using proteomics at the front-end of the experimental pipeline. These experiments are followed or integrated with other types of omics data (transcriptomics, metabolomics) and more recently metagenomics, with the goal of identifying druggable targets. Her laboratory was the first to identify protein misfolding and proteostasis derangements similar to Alzheimer’s disease in preeclampsia. The practical application of this research has led to the Congo Red Dot test, a device that measures urine congophilia and is under development for improved detection of preeclampsia in the United States and worldwide.

Dr. Buhimschi’s research has been funded by grants from the NIH, March of Dimes, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and most recently by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for international work aimed at scaling-up the Congo Red Dot test in low-resource health care settings to reduce maternal mortality from preeclampsia. She has published 180+ peer-reviewed publications and has 12 patents of which one has been awarded Patents for Humanity status by the USPTO which is the highest innovation award for game changing solutions that address long-standing development challenges. She serves on numerous grant review committees for the NIH, March of Dimes and private foundations. She is also the Associate Editor for Pediatric Research and a member of editorial boards for several subspecialty journals. Dr. Buhimschi has mentored numerous junior faculty, maternal fetal medicine and neonatology fellows, T32-funded medical students, graduate students, college students and high school students. Because of her expertise in clinically applied omics approaches she is frequently solicited to co-mentor K08-awardees who are interested in pursuing translational research. Many students and trainees have published first author papers in high impact journals such as Science Translational Medicine, Circulation, Nature Scientific Reports, Hypertension and Lancet EClinical Medicine.

At her prior institution, Dr. Buhimschi spearheaded and served as PI on The Futures Matter Program (NICHD-funded), an institute-wide summer research experience program aimed at encouraging talented students from local high schools to pursue STEM-related college majors that would lead to careers that could help advance pregnancy- and child-health research. The goal of the program was to sensitize high school students to the importance of applied bioinformatics as required by the medicine of the future. Although Dr. Buhimschi has moved to UIC only in January 2019, she has already mentored one junior faculty, one maternal fetal medicine fellow, and two medical students interested in perinatal research and/or global health.