September 17, 2021

Women’s health research spotlight: Nese Yuksel

Nese Yuksel

Photo: William Au

Nese Yuksel is passionate about bringing her clinical experience into her research. Her practice at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women menopause clinic and the Multidisciplinary Bone Health clinic at the Kaye Clinic directly inspires her research. As a professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Yuksel brings the knowledge and experience she gains in clinical practice back to the classroom and research. 

“These roles all interact together and drive each other,” explains Yuksel. “Teaching can drive research, where students come with ideas, and clinical work drives teaching with practical examples and patient interactions becoming sharable knowledge.” 

What does your program of research examine? 

Aspects of women’s health, specifically in the areas of reproductive health and menopause, as well as evaluating interventions to identify patients at high risk for osteoporotic fractures and enhancing patient care. We are looking to increase our understanding of women’s perspectives and improve the quality of care of women while supporting them. One of the ways we can support women and other health care providers is through knowledge translation, which is the development of evidence-based practice tools and resources in the areas of reproductive health, menopause and osteoporosis.

How did you get into your field of research?

Women’s health and osteoporosis care are passions of mine. I’ve tried to integrate my clinical experience and interest in the areas of osteoporosis and women’s health—including menopause and contraception—and tie it to my teaching and research. A lot of this comes just from seeing patients in clinical practice where many research questions are generated. 

Why do you think it’s important to invest in menopause (or women’s health) research? 

Menopause will affect 50 per cent of the population but there’s still a huge gap in both care and  research. Many symptoms go unrecognized and women fall through the cracks; we need to find the best ways to support them. There is an unfortunate stigma in menopause where symptoms may not be taken seriously or not identified correctly despite the fact that symptoms can have a significant impact on quality of life and can have significant durations—on average, vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and heart palpitations can last up to 10 years or more in some women. There is still so much fear and misinformation around menopause, especially with hormone therapy, and it remains underfunded in comparison to other areas in women’s health/reproductive health.

What do you like most about what you do?

What I love most is just the variety of things I get to do. I am always learning and get to apply my clinical interest directly to teaching and my research. It is really rewarding to develop evidence-based tools to help healthcare providers or patients on-site. We will soon be launching a website with evidence-based tools, including an online practice tool for supporting health professionals manage combined hormonal contraceptives.

What do you consider your most significant contribution?

I think for me is that I get to pursue my passion and achieve my goals which is to improve and make a difference in women’s lives.

You’re a women’s health research ambassador for WCHRI and the Alberta Women’s Health Foundation—what does it mean to you?

I am an advocate for women’s health—especially when it comes to access and/or quality of care. I am always looking for any ways to improve access or impact patient outcomes—through advocacy and funding opportunities. That is why I am so grateful to have several research projects supported by the Alberta Women’s Health Foundation through WCHRI. Health care providers, educators, policymakers—we all need to be better advocates for bringing awareness to the importance of women’s health research.