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Penalver named BIRCWH scholar

Assistant Professor Beatriz Penalver

Richard and Loan Hill Department of Bioengineering Assistant Professor Beatriz Penalver was named one of this year’s Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health scholars.

The BIRCWH program is funded by the National Institute of health and has a mission to mentor scientists in women’s health and sex/gender-based health research. The BIRCWH program at UIC trains a diverse group of junior faculty members to become independent women’s health or sex/gender-based research investigators. The program is made up of both a core and tailored curriculum, and includes research training, mentoring by senior women’s health experts, individualized career planning, and a research project.

Penalver’s work in the department and at UIC is focused on translational applications in female reproductive biology. Specifically, she uses her statistical and computational methods to tackle complex women’s health disorders.

Penalver said her research is currently focused on the human microbiome, the microorganisms that reside inside people, and their associations with human physical and mental health. Her initial work aims to establish the relationships between depression during pregnancy and postpartum and the evolution of the maternal microbiome during the perinatal period.

As a BIRCWH scholar, Penalver plans to continue working on perinatal depression considering the maternal microbiome and expand her research in perinatal women’s mental health, including post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.

Penalver received her PhD in chemical and biological engineering from Northwestern University and completed her postdoctoral studies at the University of Chicago and the University of California at San Diego. She started working at UIC in the fall of 2019.