Melissa Wellons, MD, MHS is Assistant Professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine (DOPM) at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (DAB). During residency and chief residency, she developed a new research interest in women's health and cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention. She is committed to an academic career in clinical research and has a proven track record of completing projects and working independently. A K-23 award will provide her with 1) further education in CVD epidemiology, 2) advanced training in biostatistical techniques, cardiovascular imaging, and reproductive endocrinology;3) opportunity to test hypotheses regarding CVD risk in women, and 4) mentorship with outstanding investigators to become a highly productive researcher. Mentors: Cora E. Lewis, MD, MSPH, Professor, DOPM (Primary Mentor) brings expertise in CVD epidemiology and prevention in women. Dr. Nelda Wray, MD, MPH, Professor, DOPM (Co-Mentor) is an experienced CVD researcher and has mentored over 25 junior faculty. Environment: The DOPM at UAB offers a vibrant research environment and commits to protecting Dr. Wellons'time to develop her research career. Research: Dr. Wellons overarching hypothesis is that atherosclerosis of the ovarian vasculature during young adulthood may be a primary determinant of early menopause (natural menopause at an age # 46). Further stated, she posits that early menopause may be a manifestation of subclinical CVD.
Her aims 1 -2 include a bi-racial cohort of women from the NHLBI sponsored CARDIA study: a prospective, epidemiologic study of the determinants and evolution of CVD risk factors among young adults (ages 18-30) which completed its 20th year of follow-up in 2006. In this cohort, she will 1) investigate a marker of subclinical CVD (intimal-medial thickness) and its association with early menopause and 2) investigate the levels of and rate of change of CVD risk factors during women's young adulthood (the premenopausal time period) and their association with the likelihood of undergoing early menopause.
For Aim 3, she will recruit women from the UAB Infertility Clinic and will assess the relationship between small ovarian volume (a marker of early menopause), ovarian perfusion, and CVD risk factors. Conclusion: The proposed career development and research plan will place Dr. Wellons on a 5-year trajectory to reach her target of becoming an independent investigator in CVD prevention in women.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHL1-CSR-R (O1))
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Nelson, Cheryl R
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Kim, Catherine; Slaughter, James C; Wang, Erica T et al. (2017) Anti-Müllerian hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, antral follicle count, and risk of menopause within 5 years. Maturitas 102:18-25
Nair, Sangeeta; Slaughter, James C; Terry, James G et al. (2015) Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) is associated with natural menopause in a population-based sample: The CARDIA Women's Study. Maturitas 81:493-8
Mirkin, Sebastian (2015) Response to letter to the editor. Menopause 22:475
Wellons, Melissa F; Bates, Gordon Wright; Schreiner, Pamela J et al. (2013) Antral follicle count predicts natural menopause in a population-based sample: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Women's Study. Menopause 20:825-30
Demerath, Ellen W; Liu, Ching-Ti; Franceschini, Nora et al. (2013) Genome-wide association study of age at menarche in African-American women. Hum Mol Genet 22:3329-46
Chen, Brian H; Brennan, Kathleen; Goto, Atsushi et al. (2012) Sex hormone-binding globulin and risk of clinical diabetes in American black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander postmenopausal women. Clin Chem 58:1457-66
Wellons, Melissa F; Fujimoto, Victor Y; Baker, Valerie L et al. (2012) Race matters: a systematic review of racial/ethnic disparity in Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology reported outcomes. Fertil Steril 98:406-9
Wellons, Melissa; Ouyang, Pamela; Schreiner, Pamela J et al. (2012) Early menopause predicts future coronary heart disease and stroke: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Menopause 19:1081-7
Coviello, Andrea D; Haring, Robin; Wellons, Melissa et al. (2012) A genome-wide association meta-analysis of circulating sex hormone-binding globulin reveals multiple Loci implicated in sex steroid hormone regulation. PLoS Genet 8:e1002805
Wellons, Melissa (2011) Cardiovascular disease and primary ovarian insufficiency. Semin Reprod Med 29:328-41

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