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Missouri is home to numerous research institutions conducting innovative medical and scientific research each year. The Missouri Cures Education Foundation is dedicated to shining a spotlight on that work by promoting and protecting medical advances that keep Missourians healthy and stimulate the state’s economy. It also hosts annual Women in Science, Entrepreneurship & Research (WISER) events, which highlight the achievements of women in science, technology and business.

Dena Ladd, Missouri Cures Education Foundation president, says the idea for WISER came from her experience working with researchers across the state. “The latest statistics show that women only make up 28% of the workforce in these careers,” she explains. “Traveling around Missouri, I’ve met so many amazing people. I wanted to bring women together to share the opportunities and challenges they face in their fields.” The first WISER conference was held in St. Louis eight years ago, and it was followed by events in St. Joseph, Springfield, Kansas City and Columbia.

Due to the pandemic, WISER pivoted to virtual seminars to connect people last year, and those webinars continued into 2021. To cap off the year, WISER Conversations will be held at noon Nov. 5 via Zoom. The Refresh, Refuel, Refocus: Create a Work/Life Balance seminar is designed to address the stress caused by the last year and a half. “Everyone has been feeling a little anxious and exhausted,” Ladd says. “We wanted to end the year on a positive note and focus on wellness and balance, so everyone goes into 2022 feeling rejuvenated and ready to go.”

The seminar’s keynote speaker is Kim Becking, president of Momentum Motivation and a breast cancer survivor. WISER also is partnering with local nonprofit The Fit and Food Connection. Co-founder and co-director Joy Millner will present Mindfulness Moment to help people destress, and the nonprofit’s other co-founder and co-director Gabrielle Cole, will participate in the panel discussion. “We have some great female entrepreneurs as panelists,” Ladd says. “The discussion will deal with finding work/life balance, and we hope people will come out of the seminar feeling refreshed and positive about their careers and families.” Panelists include Stephanie Reganon of Danforth Plant Science Center; Jamila Owens-Todd, Ph.D., of Golden Grocer and adjunct professor at Saint Louis University; and Kelly Fischer of Benson Hill.

To help further connect people and share news about local innovations, Missouri Cures Education Foundation also has cultivated an extensive social media presence, sharing stories on its platforms, and WISER has a Facebook group to help women network. The nonprofit also hosts Lunch with a Researcher virtual events, which bring together experts to discuss topics like COVID-19, diabetes and precision medicine. “It’s a great opportunity to get insight in various subjects and learn about recent research,” Ladd says.

For more information about WISER and to register for the Nov. 5 virtual seminar, visit missouricures.org/wiser.

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