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PhD Students Olivia Giovannetti and Diane Tomalty Awarded Research Grant Funding from ISSWSH

Olivia Giovannetti and Diane Tomalty, two PhD students, supervised by Dr. Michael Adams, have successfully applied for and received research grant funding from the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH). The ISSWSH Scholars in Women’s Sexual Health Research Grant Program offers young investigators interested in research in women's sexual health the opportunity to obtain funding from ISSWSH to support their research

Diane Tomalty’s successful research project “Characterizing the Innervation of the Vulvar Vestibule: Implications for the Understanding and Treatment of Provoked Vestibulodynia” received $6600 USD in funding (February 2021). This cadaveric dissection and axonal tracing research will enable Diane to meticulously investigate the functional neuroanatomy of the vulvar vestibule. This region is clinically significant for patients with provoked vestibulodynia (PVD), a chronic pain condition localized to the vulvar vestibule which has significant negative impacts on female sexual functioning and overall quality of life. Currently there is an insufficient understanding of the precise sensory and autonomic nerves of this region, despite the importance of innervation in the initiation and perpetuation of PVD. It is expected that a more complete understanding of the innervation of the vulvar vestibule is fundamental to not only informing understanding of the etiology of pain syndromes impacting this region, but also for improving the clinical management of these patients.

Olivia Giovannetti has now received two awards from ISSWSH, back-to-back.  The first, in 2020, was “Analysis of Female Urogenital Tract Microenvironment Pre- and Post LEEP and Impact on Sexual Dysfunction” provided $7,500 USD, and the second one was “Self-Report Assessment of Sexual Function After LEEP in Women who Report Negative Outcomes”, which recently received $2,650 USD in funding (Feb, 2021). Her earlier award focuses on pathogenic alterations in the microbiome of the female urogenital tract before and after LEEP, a procedure used to excise cervical dysplasia. Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) has been reported in some women following LEEP, and the shift in microbiome is being considered this etiology. The newly awarded study (2021) will characterize the various symptom profiles of women who report incident FSD post-LEEP. Many patients are not informed about the risk of FSD before this procedure and women have difficulty describing the symptoms they experience. This study seeks to advance knowledge translation with these patients.