Students receive research grants from La Jolla foundation

Foundation is named for former chair of Community and Family Medicine

The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research met part of its mission goals last week in presenting three college students involved in scientific research with scholarships. Appearing at the luncheon at the La Jolla Country Club, Howell, for whom the organization is named, thanked all of the sponsors who helped make the research grants available. “The Howell Foundation is a culmination of hard work and joy,” she said. “This is an important time in these student’s lives when they can use financial help and encouragement to pursue important work.”

The three Howell Scholars in attendance were UCSD’s Rachel Poythress, Michael Skidmore from CSU, Sacramento, and Robert Vasko of SDSU. Poythress, whose goal is to become a nurse, is currently working in the Carole Banka lab and studying the effects of estrogen and progesterone on tumor progressions. “I’m very grateful for this research grant as it will allow me to pay rent and continue my research,” she said.

Vasko, an undergraduate researcher, plans to obtain his bachelor’s in molecular biology and apply to the Scripps Immunology Ph. D. program. He was given his Howell scholarship for his research work on Hsp90, a protein that aids breast cancer cells in avoiding processes that would lead to their deaths. “Because of the generosity of the Howell Foundation, I can continue my work and buy news tools for the lab,” Vasko said.

Skidmore’s research involves developing new molecules that will inhibit the HIV virus from infecting the host cell. He plans to apply to grad school next fall to attain his Ph. D in chemistry. “The Howell grant will help me pursue that goal and continue my research,” Skidmore said.

The main speaker of the day was Dr. Richard Bodor, M.D., Chief of the Plastic Surgery Department at the Veteran Administration Medical Center, and Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at UC San Diego.

The Howell Foundation was started in 1995 by the La Jolla Soroptimists following Howell’s retirement from her work as UCSD Medical School’s chair of the Department of Community and Family Medicine. The foundation’s mission is: To promote awareness of the issues and challenges confronting women’s health; To help develop a new generation of researchers and scholars in the field: To communicate the right of women to be their own healthcare advocates. For more information visit: