Equity is a Driving Force in This Donor’s Giving, Including Her Latest on Fertility Research – Inside Philanthropy

Working women know the score: Having a baby changes everything. The financial implications begin with unpaid maternity leave policies in a country that uniquelymandates none, and continues as child care responsibilities compete with the everyday pressures of a womans key earning years, a pivotal time that can change the entire trajectory of a households financial future.

Putting off pregnancy also has real consequences in terms of health. Fertility begins declining in a womans early 30s. By 40, levels drop to 5%, affecting the health of mother and child, and making age the great dividing point on reproductive equity.

But what if we had a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms that contribute to ovarian aging, allowing doctors to predict individual fertility windows and even grow their longevity?

Maybe its time for answers. At the end of July, the Center for Female Reproductive Longevity and Equity was established at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Seeded by a $6 million gift from Nicole Shanananboosting another $7.4 million in related research grants from the donorthe centers work has the potential to address one of the greatest existing gender inequities, the fact that men can reproduce well into old age, while women cannot.

Near and Dear to Her Heart

Nicole Shanahan is an attorney specializing in patents and intellectual property, and currently a research fellow at CodeX, a center at Stanford that brings together researchers, lawyers, technologists and entrepreneurs to advance computational law. Shes also the founder of ClearAccessIP, an automated patent management and valuation platform.

In 2019, Shanahan founded the Bia-Echo Foundationin San Francisco, which committed to investing $100 million over five years to three focus areas: Reproductive Longevity & Equality, Criminal Justice Reform, and a Healthy and Livable Planet. She serves as president of the private foundation, and prior to that, supported similar work through the Sergey Brin Family Foundation. Shanahan and the Google co-founder married in 2018, and have one child together.

Inside Philanthropy profiled Shanahan last year as Bia-Echo was getting on its feet, and she shared with us how her personal experience with reproductive health and fertility influenced her engagement with this issue. At the same time, growing up in a low-income immigrant household, along with research shes done with CodeX on criminal justice reform, has infused her philanthropy with a strong sense of justice and equity that shows up in all three focus areas.

Shanahan recognizes that reproductive equality impacts womens health, family planning, infertility and career development, and she considers the issue near and dear to her heart, and the work essential to rebalancing our culture and economy.

Funding Researchers

Through the Bia-Echo Foundation, Shanahan also funded theGlobal Consortium for Reproductive Longevity and Equality(GCRLE) with $7.4 million in funds to support research over two years. GCRLE is anchored at the Buck Institutes newly established center, but will support researchers across multiple institutionsthe consortium recently announced its first cohort of 22 scientists studying the underlying causes of female reproductive aging.

One of the three Senior Scholar Award recipients was Princeton professor of molecular biology Colleen Murphy for her work, Defining a Clock for Female Reproductive Decline. Murphys project will enable analysis of the underlying mechanisms that regulate reproductive aging, provide women with individualized information on reproductive aging status, and arm them with the data they need to make more informed decisions about their reproductive circumstancesperhaps avoiding age-related infertility, miscarriage and birth defects.

The four 2020 Junior Scholar Award recipients included researchers from institutions around the globe, focusing on issues like Ovarian Senescence as a Novel Driver of Female Productive Aging.

Seven candidates received Pilot Awards for collaborative or novel research projects that have the potential for high impact and high reward at an accelerated rate. And eight Postdoctoral Scholar awards support the training of junior scientists who will lead the work into the future.

According to the Buck Institute, the expectation is that the work will not only change the accepted paradigm of female reproductive aging, but the future of all age-related disease.

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Equity is a Driving Force in This Donor's Giving, Including Her Latest on Fertility Research - Inside Philanthropy

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