CHICAGO -- First Lady Jill Biden came to Chicago Thursday, along with an Oscar-winning actress to promote women's health.
Biden visited the University of Illinois-Chicago campus as part of the new White House initiative on women's health research, which was launched back in November. The effort is being led by the first lady and the White House Gender Policy Council.
Biden was joined by Oscar-Award-winning actress Halle Berry, who is also a women's health advocate.
At UIC, Biden and Berry looked at research on how scientists monitor women's hot flashes and the effect on their brains.
They toured classrooms where the work is ongoing.
Biden said she is encouraged by the work and that it is long overdue.
"Every woman will be affected by menopause; yet, there's a stunning lack of information about how to manage and treat its symptoms. UIC is working to change that," she said.
Berry shared her frustration with lack of information and treatment options, prompting her to advocate for advances in research on perimenopausal and menopausal women.
"Fifty percent of the population are suffering, and it's just no longer good enough. We should no longer take the backseat," Berry said.
The UIC research is on hot flashes and sleep, the difference in severity of symptoms for women of color and how estrogen affects the brain.
The scientists say this is an effort to understand how to maintain healthy female brains to better stave off the potential effects of Alzheimer's and dementia later in life.
"We bring middle-life adults into their later years with the very healthiest brain that they can, so if and when the pathology of Alzheimer's strikes, that brain is resilient to that pathology," said Dr. Pauline Maki, with UIC women's health.
Scientists at UIC hope the president's initiative will allow their research to continue and expand and ultimately improve the quality of life for half of all Americans and their families.
According to the White House, initiative members will make recommendations to the Biden-Harris administration in the coming weeks on improving how research on women's health is conducted.
They will also make recommendations on maximizing the administration's investments in that area, including addressing health disparities and inequities.
The initiative is said to engage philanthropic leaders and women's health organizations, just to name a few.
Outside the event, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine protested Biden's visit.
The demonstrators said while she was in Chicago discussing women's health issues, millions of women and children in Gaza have had their lives destroyed.
And they said President Joe Biden and his administration are complicit in what's happening.