Associate 2007-08

Romana Angelika Nowak

Animal Sciences


Leiomyomas are very common, benign tumors of the uterus. Although benign, these tumors cause abnormal uterine bleeding, severe abdominal pain and pressure, and infertility. About $1.5 billion healthcare dollars are spent yearly toward treatment of these tumors, including the many hysterectomies performed to alleviate symptoms.

A primary research focus of Professor Nowak’s laboratory is understanding the biology of uterine leiomyomas. The tumors are diagnosed with a prevalence of 25 percent in women overall – and with a much higher prevalence of 50-60 percent in African-American women. The reasons for the higher rate in African-American women are not understood.

During her Center appointment, Professor Nowak will investigate a possible relationship in African-American women linking leiomyomas with the physiological disturbances associated with metabolic syndrome (specifically in this study, with obesity, insulin resistance, and hypertension). The study will take place at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where Professor Nowak holds an adjunct appointment.

She and her co-investigators hope to determine whether there is a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome in African-American women at the UIC clinic and whether these women have a higher rate of symptomatic uterine leiomyomas. Their hypothesis is that African-American women do show an increased rate of occurrence of obesity, type II diabetes, and hypertension; and that these women are also more likely to suffer from symptomatic leiomyomas.