Laura W. Bush Institute Provided A Look At The Amazing Universe Of Stem Cells Thanks To Doris Taylor And Jay Schneider

Laura Bush and Lee Ann White

Lee Ann White had had a busy 24 hours. On Tuesday, February 14, (aka Valentine’s Day), she had orchestrated a sweetie of a celebration at the Ritz-Carlton with the Hamilton Park Choir and 50 besties. Alas, Annette Simmons and husband Jerry Fronterhouse and birthday girl Gene Jones had to send regrets. Couldn’t blame them. Annette and Jerry were out of town celebrating their first anniversary and Gene was over the pond to check out her new floating getaway.

But in attendance were Lana and Barry Andrews, Toni and T. Boone Pickens and the usual multi-gillionaires plus Laura and George Bush.

Jan Rees-Jones and Lisa Troutt

Debbie Francis

Jeanne Cox

But early the next morning on Wednesday, February 15, Lee Ann, Lana, Jan Rees-Jones, Jeanne Cox and Debbie Francis were looking fresh-faced for the Laura W. Bush Institute gathering at the Dallas Country Club.  

Su-Su Meyer, Gayle Stoffel, Lana Andrew and Meredith Land

Kara Goss and Rhonda Marcus

Kimber Hartmann and Angie Kadesky

Monet and George Ball and Tiffany Divis

After the breakfast coffee that included a crash of china coffee cups from the buffet to the tile floor, the group (Tiffany Divis with daughter Monet Ball and husband Dr. George Ball, Libby Allred, Pam Busbee, Ola Fojtasek, Michael Fowler, Kimber Hartmann, Debbie Francis, Lisa Ogle, Joanne Stroud, Kara Goss, Su-Su Meyer, Al Hill Jr., Angie Kadesky, Rhonda Marcus, Diane Howard, Jane Pierce and Lisa Troutt) gathered in the ballroom for “Stem Cells: Building Blocks For Human Organs And Tools For Therapeutic Discovery” by Dr. Jay Schneider and Doris Taylor, Ph.D., introduced by emcee KXAS’s Meredith Land.

Diane Howard and Marjorie Jenkins

Al Hill Jr.

Connie Tyne, Jay Schneider and Doris Taylor

Over to the side of the ballroom stood Laura Bush with Lee Ann, the speakers and Institute hierarchy. While this presentation was Lee Ann’s swan song as president of the Laura W. Bush Institute, Institute Executive Director Connie Tyne and Institute Chief Science Officer Marjorie Jenkins kept things popping.

After Lee Ann introduced Laura, the former first lady updated the group on the Bush family — former first Lady Barbara and President George H.W. Bush both got well in time to flip the coin for the Super Bowl, and Laura’s husband former President George W. Bush has been working on portraits and a book on wounded warriors (“Buy his book because he’s living on a government pension.” Actually, proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior project).

She then discussed the various programs and developments that the Institute will be hosting in the coming months.

It was now time for the two experts to discuss the day’s topic. First up was Doris Taylor on how the body heals itself with its own stem cells. Admitting that she saw the world through stem-cell glass, she saw aging and most chronic diseases as a failure of stem cells.

Her first two points of the day were:

  • Heart disease kills more women than men. Most clinical trials on restorative therapy for heart disease are done on men. Despite more equivalent trials being undertaken involving men and women, the chances are that a woman will still receive treatments designed for a man.
  • Sex is not the same as gender. While the rule of thumb is that at the first sign of a heart attack, it is essential to get to a hospital within four hours. Men usually get there within the four-hour window. Why? Because their wives drive them there. Women, on the other hand. don’t get there within that time period but not because of biologic or sex differences. Rather because of gender-based differences. A woman will delay getting help for various reasons like “The house is dirty,” “The kids are coming home from school,” I don’t want an ambulance guy to come in here when the house is dirty,” etc.  Due to the excuses, a woman doesn’t make it to the hospital in time. It is societal gender difference, not biological. 

Doris then addressed the future of stem cells in aging. Using a simple example, she told how when a young child falls and scrapes their knee, it’s not like they are going to be scarred for life. However, an adult may not be so lucky. That is because of the stem cells that take care of the normal wear and tear of the body aren’t as available as a person ages. 

She explained how inflammation is nature’s signaling that there has been an injury, and stem cells are needed to repair. If you get the right cells there, you can eliminate the inflammation.

Doris then said that she really wanted the audience to take away two points from her talk:

  1. Inflammation for a short time is a good thing, because it tells the body that stem cells are need and those stem cells get mobilized
  2. But chronic inflammation when you don’t get stem cells is a bad thing.

The problem with aging is that we lose stem cells and their capacity to handle the inflammation over time. Through cell therapy, those aging-out stem cells can be replaced.

Regarding heart disease, it occurs in men earlier in life, but then levels off. In women it starts slower and then speeds up. But by the 70s men and women are equal in the heart disease.

During that same time period, it was interesting to note the loss of stem cells take place at the same rate.

Stem cells can self-replicate and they can come from a lot of things. The common sources of stem cells are bone marrow, blood, fat, muscle and amniotic fluid. Thanks to research, almost any cell can be turned into a stem cell.

In a research project that Doris conducted in mice regarding plaque in the heart, she discovered that female stem cells worked in both males and females. But the male stem cells only worked in male mice and they worsened the conditions of the female mice.

Ways to solve the problem of :

  • Prevention
  • Repairing the right cells
  • Finding cogent stem cell
  • Getting the right stem cells from somebody else
  • Storing your cells
  • Picking the right patients
  • Mobilizing your stem cells by reducing stress, exercising, acupuncture, meditation, etc.

Stem cells are already in use in the treatment of arthritis, sports injuries, surgeries, cosmetic applications, etc. It was on that last point that Doris warmed about the problem of medical tourism in getting overseas applications of stem cells:

  • your own doctor will not know what he/she is dealing with
  • they probably haven’t been through the clinical trials

For these reasons, she encouraged the advancement of testing and gaining access to such treatments in this country.

A couple of final points:

  1. Integrated Healthcare Association has recognized that the sexes are different and those difference need to be addressed
  2. American Heart Association published a paper last year about the difference of heart attacks in men and women

Doris then talked about building hearts in the lab. By washing the cells out of a heart and replacing those cells, the heart was able to work, plus the women’s skeletal hearts were stronger than the men’s. Similar tests are being done in other organs.

But with all the advancements, the overall results will only be successful if the differences in the genders are included.

Her final comment was to push for answers and to discuss the topic with doctors and friends.

Next up Dr. Jay Schneider, who opened with the fact that before the day’s meeting with the former first lady, his previous Texas VIP meeting had been Willie Nelson … “This is much better than that.”

 He then turned to his talk, emphasizing that in addition to gender differences, each person is totally unique in their genocode “God gave our souls, but the code determines what our cells are.”

Thanks to the modern technology — CRISPR — the genetic code can be adjusted. Jay was positively high of the development of CRISPR predicting a Noble Prize in the future for those involved in its discovery.

Back story: CRISPR was discovered thank to scientists trying to find out why yogurt went bad. It was due to bacteria.

CRISPR will go through genome — all 46 chromosomes and billions of bases — and locate the basic mistake in the makeup and “actually fix them.”

He then gave two examples of the importance. First was a young man in Dallas named “Ben,” who is suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The disease effects boys, but it is transmitted from the mothers, who do not have symptoms. Using CRISPR, Ben has a single mistake in his gene that causes Duchenne. With the new technology, they can go in using molecular technology, change the sequence, and cure the muscular disease.  Until clinical trials are done, the treatment cannot be done. However, thanks to cells that were made from his blood, muscles can be built.

Jay emphasized that this was being done with Ben’s own blood and not embryonic fluid. He credited the development of creating stems from means other than embryonic fluid to former President George W. Bush, who restricted funding of embryonic stem cell research in 2012, thereby forcing scientist to undertake other alternatives.

His second example was his year-old great niece Allison, who suffers from Acting Mental Myelopathy. Like Ben, she had one mistake in her gene make-up. Only one other child was born with this condition. Thanks to CRISPR, technology is being created that will go into her muscle and release her from her paralysis.

But there is an urgency to solving these genetic situations. As one gets older, it is harder to correct the error.

Jay then smoothly made a suggestion to the former first lady, who was seated nearby. In visiting the Bush Center, Jay was surprised to see barely a mention of the former president’s involvement in changing the world of genetics. His suggestion was to take a tube of blood from the former first lady and use it to demonstrate how stem cells can be created, thereby not requiring embryonic fluid.

Marjorie then held a brief Q&A for Doris and Jay with the audience that addressed the following points:

  • The life span of cells varies.
  • A stem cell circulates for various periods of time. They then go to the injured site or back to the bone marrow.
  • Donating a body to Jay’s clinic for research is invaluable.
  • Ben’s case is already advanced and it will be a challenge to get to each cell in his muscles. However, most Duchenne patients and their mothers tend to die from heart disease. Luckily, the heart is more accessible for using CRISPR.
  • Allison is still much younger and her mass is still developing and more manageable.
  • AIDs is a disease that is having positive results due to CRISPR.
  • One of the great issues facing the use of genetic management: the ethical questions being raised.

MySweet2017Goal: Lee Ann White

Lee Ann White (File photo)

According to National Advisory Board of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health Chair Lee Ann White,

“My goal is to increase awareness of the Laura W. Bush Institute’s efforts to enlighten and inform men and women that gender differences are the key to bridging the gaps in women’s health. In order to achieve this, we must educate current and future health providers to consider each patient’s uniqueness and that means, first and foremost, taking into consideration how gender impacts health and wellness.

“I encourage anyone interested to visit the Laura W. Bush Institute website, to learn more about gender-based medicine and our upcoming Coffee and Conversation event in Dallas on Wednesday, February 15, hosted by the institute’s National Advisory Board.  The topic will be ‘Stem Cells:  Building Block for Human Organs and Tools for Therapeutic Discovery.’”

Laura W. Bush Institute For Women’s Health Brought James Maas, Marjorie Jenkins And Sweet Dreams To Dallas

Ever since Eve and Adam, there’s been no doubt that women and men are different. But over the centuries that difference has in some ways become more apparent and, in others, not so apparent. Need an example? How about medical research? It has been the norm for research on such things as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental health and others to be based largely on studies involving men. In more recent years, the understanding has arisen that what applies to men doesn’t necessarily translate for the healthcare for women.

Former First Lady Laura Bush and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center not only got on board with this concept, they created the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health  in 2007 focusing on health-and-gender-based issues. Getting the results out from the Institute’s efforts, Laura and the Center’s experts have been holding meetings and activities throughout Texas. From the start, Dallas women were on board with the program including Lee Ann White, who has served as chairman of the national advisory board. Over the years such issues as heart disease, menopause, pain and alcohol abuse have been discussed, but on Tuesday, May 17, a different topic was presented at the Dallas Country Club — “Women and Sleep: Good Night, Great Day.”

Lisa Troutt and Jan Rees-Jones

Lisa Troutt and Jan Rees-Jones

Rusty Duvall

Rusty Duvall

 Jane Pierce, Randall Halsell, Barbara Stuart, Linda Perryman Evans, Marilyn, Augur, Carol Seay and Linda McFarland

Jane Pierce, Randall Halsell, Barbara Stuart, Linda Perryman Evans, Marilyn, Augur, Carol Seay and Linda McFarland

With a room full of women including Lisa Troutt, Diane Howard, Jan Rees-Jones, Rusty Duvall, Kelli Ford, Jane Pierce, Randi Halsell, Barbara Stuart, Linda Perryman Evans, Marilyn Augur, Carol Seay, Linda McFarland, Elizabeth Webb and Libby Allred, Event Co-Chairs Jeanne Tower Cox, Debbie Francis and Lee Ann had James “Jim” Maas and Dr. Marjorie Jenkins explain not only the importance of sleep in regards to their overall well-being, but how to achieve the optimum rest. Originally scheduled speaker Janet Tornelli-Mitchell was unable to participate due to a family emergency.

Jeanne Tower Cox

Jeanne Tower Cox

Debbie Francis

Debbie Francis


Meredith Land, Lee Ann White and Elizabeth Webb

Meredith Land, Lee Ann White and Elizabeth Webb

First up was Jim, who reported on recent research regarding sleep. After polling the audience, he explained that most people are moderately to severely sleep deprived effecting their work, family and overall life. However, he pointed out that 71% of the North American populace does not need the usually recommended 7.5-9.5 hours of sleep a night. However, he did point out that most people overestimate the amount of sleep they get by 47 more minutes.

Having studied tens of thousands of high school and college kids, he flatly described them as walking zombies. The reason is that in order to be alert, young people need 9.25 hours of sleep each night, but in reality get only 6.1. Jim suggested that as puberty is taking place earlier and earlier in life, so the need for more sleep is taking place among middle school youngsters.

As an example of sleep deprivation affecting even high-level types, he showed a video of former President George W. Bush speaking with a middle-schooler yawning in the stands behind him. To be politically correct, Jim then showed a video of former President Bill Clinton dozing off during a Martin Luther King Jr. service. There were others, like Gordon Brown at the General Assembly and Margaret Thatcher at a cabinet meeting, who were caught showing signs of being weary.

But as Jim explained, it’s not just international leaders who show signs of being tired. He reported that 75% of adults experience problems getting sound sleep some nights every single week. That can mean either getting to sleep, maintaining a full night’s sleep, waking up too early or a combination of all three. Or, as Jim put it, “daytime sleep inertia. Sleep is a necessity. It is not a luxury, as we treat it as being.”

He felt that “the best predictor we have of life span is not exercise and it’s not nutrition, although they’re both very important. The best predictor we have is how well you sleep.”

James "Jim" Maas

James “Jim” Maas

Jim’s thesis is that “if you get adequate sleep, you’ll be in a better mood, more efficient, more effective and you’ll actually have some free time left over.”

Sleep deprivation leads to a significantly higher risk of hypertension, heart attacks and strokes, Type 2 diabetes, depression, influenza, skin and allergy problems, cancer, early onset Alzheimer’s disease and obesity. That last item caused a stir among the audience when Jim suggested that if people would get one more hour of sleep each night, they would lose on average of a pound a week.

And in keeping with the basis of the Institute, there is a difference between men and women regarding sleep deprivation. Women experience more insomnia than men, resulting in high levels of psychological distress, greater hostility/depression/anger and “obviously hormonal changes.”

He reported that blind women have 50% less breast cancer than sighted women. His thinking is that sighted women don’t turn off the light soon enough at night, and that “light exposure suppresses melatonin from being secreted in the brain, which will put you to sleep in the dark.”

It was recently revealed that when you lose sleep, you actually lose neurons. In other words, lack of sleep results in the killing of brain cells.

Prior to 1952, the thinking was that there were two parts of the brain — the awake part and the sleeping part. Then research at the University of Chicago revealed that the sleeping brain is much more complicated than the awake brain. At the point when the brain enters the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle, more than dreams take place.

He then surprised some of the audience by saying that anyone who says they can fall asleep immediately is actually starved for sleep. The well-rested person takes 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep.

Within the first 20 minutes of sleep, the first stage of the night focuses on body and brain cell restoration. After 90 minutes, the first dreaming period of the night is underway. Everyone dreams every 90 minutes each night with that first dream lasting nine minutes plus or minus 30 seconds. Then one goes back down to the deeper sleep and every 90 minutes the pattern continues. And every REM period is twice as long as the previous. “So if you get eight hours of sleep, you’ll have spent as much as two hours in REM sleep.”

You are sleep deprived if two or more of the following applies to you:

  • a boring lecture or glass of wine makes you sleepy.
  • you fall asleep instantly at night.
  • need an alarm clock to wake up.
  • you sleep extra hours on the weekends.


  • Determine your sleep requirement and achieve it every night.
  • From puberty to 24, you need 9.25 hours of sleep a night. And due to the growth hormone the sleep period exists between 3 and 11 a.m. Thus, kids are in morning classes when they should be sleeping. His suggestion is that either the start time for schools change or technology be used to change their circadian rhythm.
  • He told of a gadget that has been developed in France. Not available to the public until 2017, Dreem will be worn at night and it will accurately record your brain waves and it will put Stage 4 sleep rhythms into your brain. According to Jim, “It’s the first gadget that really works.”
  • Regarding caffeine, he said that any caffeine after 2 p.m. would decrease your sleep by as much as one hour. Jim surprised the group by reporting that people would say they didn’t need caffeinated coffee, they had decaffeinated Dunkin Donuts coffee. Jim reported that in actuality Dunkin Donuts decaf coffee had 26.9 MG of caffeine for an 8-oz. cup opposed to the usual 3 MG of caffeine in normal decaf beverages.
  • Other sleep killers are nicotine and alcohol.

On the other hand, instead of a Coke or coffee, have a “power nap” of 15-20 minutes in the afternoon. It’s a stress reducer, boosts your immunity and helps your memory.

In summary, he recommended

  • Reducing stress.
  • Set priorities in your life.
  • Manage your time well, so you will have time for sleep.
  • Eat well.
  • Make sure your bedroom is cool (65-67 degrees). For people suffering from night sweats, he suggested trying Cool-Jams.
  • Have a quiet bedroom. Jim recommended the Dohm to block out noises over other white-noise machine because its white noise is not a recording. (He stressed that he had no financial involvement with either Cool-Jams or Dohm.)
  • Get a great pillow. A way to test your pillow is to fold it in half. If it doesn’t immediately open by itself, it’s a “dead pillow. Throw it out or put it in the guest room.”
  • Bedrooms are for sex and sleep, not for watching television.
  • Reading electronic gadgets like smart phones and iPads before going to sleep can result in luminosity, thus hindering melatonin. Jim suggests getting low-blue-light glasses. Or, just read a book.
  • Hot baths or stretching can help.
  • Yoga and meditation.
  • If you toss or turn for 10 minutes, get up and do some light housework. It’s better than tossing and turning.
  • Do not read work-related materials.
  • Sleeping pills are not the answer. However, if you’re going to try something, Jim suggested Power Off. It requires no prescription, but is natural and not addictive.

He finished his talk with a story about a little girl who wanted to be a world-class skater, and how he told her to cut down on her workouts. She followed his advice and made headlines.

Marjorie Jenkins

Marjorie Jenkins

Next up was Chief Scientific Officer for the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health and Director of Medical Initiatives Marjorie Jenkins, who kicked off her talk saying that women multi-task more than men and thus require more sleep.

The reasons why women sleep less include having children, hot flashes during menopause, fibromyalgia and a bed partner’s snoring, restless leg syndrome, etc.

Just as Jim had mentioned, Marjorie reported that sleep deprivation results in various health issues and medical disorders.

She felt that one of the problems facing women is just trying to get to sleep.

Appealing to the vanity of the audience, Marjorie said that research showed that women who have problems sleeping age more quickly and have problems losing weight.

What does work?

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. For instance, Marjorie counts backward from 100 by sevens.
  • If you’re not sleeping well, tell your doctor. It may be depression, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, a thyroid condition or other health issues.
  • Medical resources — Vitamin E, ginger and other natural substances, Ambien, Prozac, etc., can work, but the resource has to be the correct one. Women experience more side effects from medications.

She stressed the importance of having patients make sure that their doctors hear the issues facing them regarding all health concerns, especially sleep.

James Maas and Marjorie Jenkins

James Maas and Marjorie Jenkins

Then Marjorie was joined by Jim for a panel discussion with Meredith Land emceeing:

  • Is it safe to take Tylenol PM every night? Marjorie — It isn’t something that should be taken long term.
  • Is it possible to get too much sleep? Jim — No.
  • Thoughts on melatonin for children? Marjorie — That or any herbal medication is highly questionable, since their young brains are in the developmental stage.
  • If a child is sleeping 10 hours a night, would an additional hour help? Jim — Possibly.
  • What if you sleep four hours, are up two hours and sleep an additional four hours? Marjorie — You can have restorative sleep and there are some short-acting sleep medications. Ambien was changed for a short-term effect for women — Intermezzo — in 2013 that could be taken at 3 a.m. The question arose, “How much of that is going to remain in the bloodstream if you take it that late at night? They’re going to be driving and doing things in the morning.” They found that women had 40% more active zolpidem in their blood stream in the morning. In reviewing the 800 car events ranging from running over people to accidents with other vehicles, 80% were women.
  • Where do you get that Litebook? Is it beneficial for adults as well as young people? Jim — Yes, it is fine for all. It can be acquired at Amazon.
  • What about women who wake up and cannot get back to sleep? Marjorie — Reset your clock and follow Jim’s suggestion.
  • What can you do about a snoring partner? Marjorie — Get another bedroom. Earplugs. He can try something about the snoring.  Jim — We have an expensive technique for people who are sleeping on their back. You take a tennis ball and put it into a sock. Stitch the sock to the back of his pajama top. When he rolls over on to his back, he’ll roll back over on his side.
  • Is it good to have a ceiling fan on at night? Marjorie — It’s good to have your bedroom cool. I actually have a fan on all the time.

JUST IN: Lee Ann And Alan White And PlainsCapital Provide $125,000 For Pond At Canine Companions For Independence

It was just months ago that Texas’ only Canine Companions for Independence officially opened on the Baylor, Scott and White Health campus in Irving. Today was graduation day, with 10 teams of dogs and humans officially starting their lives together. It was also a day when 17 new Labrador and Golden Retriever recruits were being turned over by their puppy-raisers to be trained for their careers as service dogs.

However, a surprise reveal took place among all the wagging tails and smiles. It was the beautiful outdoor water feature at the entrance of the brilliantly designed complex. Thanks to a $125,000 donation by Lee Ann and Alan White and PlainsCapital, the natural-looking pond with fountain was made paws-ible.

Freckles, Dawn Thompson and Diane Howard

Freckles, Dawn Thompson and Diane Howard

Just before the graduation and turnover took place, PlainsCapital’s Diane Howard and puppy-raiser Dawn Thompson checked out the pool. New recruit Freckles resisted the temptation to do what comes natural for a Lab.

Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo Is Star Attraction At Just Say Yes’s 6th Annual Celebration

The pool house at Lisa and Kenny Troutt’s sprawling Preston Hollow manse was buzzing with excitement Tuesday, April 12, for the Just Say Yes group’s 6th Annual Celebration, officially titled “Missing Puzzle Piece.” The reason: Candice and Tony Romo were down at one end posing graciously for photos, and all the VIP guests wanted to get close to the Dallas Cowboys quarterback and his wife.

Candice’s mother, it turns out, had been instrumental in introducing Just Say Yes founder and president Dan Bailey to potential donors at a coffee some 15 years ago. And tonight, the 350 attendees—including Annette Simmons and Jerry Fronterhouse, Ed Franklin, Lee Ann and Alan White, and Tiffany and Paul Divis—would listen to Romo being interviewed by Bailey at the dinner fundraiser. Just Say Yes (Youth Equipped to Succeed) empowers youth to attain their dreams and goals—and say no to destructive choices—by educating them through student-assembly speakers and classroom curriculum.

While honorary chairs Gena and Chuck Norris weren’t able to make it, Cassandra and Avery Johnson flew in from California for the evening. Avery, the former Dallas Mavs coach who now coaches men’s basketball at the University of Alabama, presented the Avery Johnson Youth Impact Award to Lisa and Kenny. During brief remarks, Avery joked that his son Avery Jr.—a basketball player who will be transferring from Texas A&M to Alabama—is “obsessed with Tony Romo.”

Avery’s son would have been in good company at this event. During a wide-ranging conversation with Dan, Tony:

  • Said that his broken clavicle is mending nicely, and that “I think I’m gonna make it through the season, so we should be fine.”
  • Disclosed that his parents were his most influential role models growing up. He was reared in modest circumstances as a “little bit of an outcast,” Tony said.
  • Advised today’s high school students to resist peer pressure from the “cool” kids: “It doesn’t matter. Don’t let them affect you day-to-day. Don’t let them control you. Just give it to God and live your life.”
  • Criticized the often-negative effects of social media. “This social media world is so not real life,” Tony said. “I would say, a.) don’t read it. But b.), if you do, be unemotionally attached. People don’t really care about you that much. Life will go on. Just do your job and everything will be fine.”

“Missing Puzzle Piece” also featured a dinner by Chamberlain’s and an auction and raffle, with Louis Murad calling the shots. The fundraising aspect was important, Bailey explained, because Just Say Yes is aiming to triple its annual budget in three years, from $900,000 currently to $2.7 million. With the larger amount, he said, Just Say Yes would be able to reach 250,000 students a year.

Lee Ann White To Continue As Laura W. Bush Institute For Women’s Health National Advisory Board Chair And Spreads The Knowledge To Fort Worth

If you’re looking for Lee Ann White at lunchtime today, she ain’t in Dallas. Nope. the PlainsCapital Bank VP is over in Cowtown. Instead of wearing a banker’s visor, she’s over thar in her role as the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health National Advisory Board Chair.

Lee Ann White (File photo)

Lee Ann White (File photo)

Lee Ann only thought she was retiring from the chairmanship this past year. But face it. After scoring a couple of major successes with two Dallas symposiums that “drew attention, created awareness and raised funds for the Institute,” they weren’t about to let her slip through their fingers.

So, the first item on her agenda was to spread the word to the gals in Fort Worth. To do that, she’s holding a symposium today on “Female Focus: Differences Matter” in collaboration with the UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s River Crest Country Club.

Joining her in chairing the event are Kit Moncrief and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.

But don’t go thinking that Dallas will be out in the cold in regards to women’s health. Lee Ann and the Laura W. Bush Institute of Women’s Health staff have scheduled “Women And Sleep: Good Night; Great Day” for Tuesday, May 17, at the Dallas Country Club.

The National Advisory Board is an all-volunteer board comprised of individuals who are interested in women’s health. The members come from varied backgrounds and advise the Executive Director on ways to advance and enhance the Institute’s mission and programs while serving as ambassadors for the Institute.  For information about the symposiums and the Laura W. Bush Institute of Women’s Health, visit or call Renee Price at 214.358.9065.

A Beastly Halloween Howl

While waiting for the rain to clear out and the winds to wind down, how about a Halloween greeting courtesy of Lee Ann and Alan White and Mo? It’s family friendly and  has a happy ending.


Laura W. Bush Institute For Women’s Health Symposium Reveals Some Reasons “Y Does X Make A Difference?”

Most of the women who gathered in the Dallas Country Club at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 23, were old hands when it comes to health issues. Women like Annette Simmons, Kelly Green, Jan Rees-Jones, Lana Andrews, Marianne Staubach, Lynne Shelton, Debbie Francis, Aileen Pratt, Caren Prothro, Sharon McCutchin, Kay Hammond, Jan Osborn and Robin Bagwell have raised incredible amounts of money to help combat everything from breast cancer, mental illness and heart disease to diabetes, to mention a few. They have all experienced the personal trauma of family members who have had daunting health issues.

But on this day these women along with 90 others attended “Y Does X Make A Difference?”, a presentation by the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health underwritten by PlainsCapital.

Founded in 2007 at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, the Institute focuses on women’s health and sex- and gender-based medicine with three purposes:

  • Research
  • Education
  • Outreach

Since its establishment,  20,000 women who could not afford health care have benefited from the institute.

As the last of the guests were being seated, former First Lady Laura Bush entered the ballroom in white blouse, black slacks, flats and sunglasses. A couple of guests whispered, “What’s with the sunglasses?” to their neighbors. No, Laura was not putting on airs. Rather, the day before she had had cataract surgery, but she wasn’t going to miss this presentation. The issue of women’s health is a priority in her life.

The program got off on a light touch courtesy of Laura Bush Institute Advisory Board Chair Lee Ann White and her husband Alan, Chairman of PlainsCapital.

Lee Ann and Alan White

Lee Ann and Alan White

Lee Ann explained how she got involved in the Institute. “I went to coffee with Debbie Francis and left as president of the Institute.” When she was planning the symposium, Lee Ann realized she need a corporate sponsor. “Then I looked across on the pillow in the bed and there was my husband Alan White, who happened to be CEO of PlainsCapital. I said, ‘Alan, do I have an opportunity for you!’”

Alan, who admitted being a bit intimidated by the room full of women, once again proved that he can hold his own by responding, “Debbie Francis once called me and Barry Andrews to have lunch. And all she wanted was for us to raise $450,000.”

(Later Debbie admitted that after this, it was likely no one would have coffee or lunch with her.)

Before turning the program over to the speakers, Alan expressed his admiration for women like Laura, Debbie and Dr. Marjorie Jenkins. . . “This is pretty amazing.” He ended by saying that when Lee Ann comes home from Institute meetings, “She’s all excited. . . It’s contagious.” Regarding his introduction of the speakers, Alan admitted, “You’d think I’m introducing the speakers because I’m the sponsor. It’s because I sleep with the chair.”

First up was Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center President Dr. Tedd Mitchell, who got to the heart of the matter:  In the past, testing had predominantly been done using men. “One hundred years ago it wasn’t considered ethical to use women for medical research. So the focus was always on male subjects. Whatever works in the male is going to work on the female. We know much better about it today.”

He emphasized the difference between “perceptions” vs. “perspectives” in health care.

The former Medical Director for The Cooper Wellness Program suggested, “It’s easy to see how a researcher who has their own bias before a study has started can take data and twist it into something that when it becomes published seems to confirm a stereotype, seems to confirm a perception that is incorrect.”

He continued, “This is why it’s important to understand the difference between a stereotype. . . a stereotype . . . a cultural stereotype that we create . . . that we have created vs. someone’s life perspective.”

He went on to say, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. We’re living in a different world than we did 20, 50 or 100 years ago. A large part of what the Laura Bush Institute is all about is making sure that when health care providers of tomorrow are engaging with their female patients, they’re doing so on the level playing field. . . that they’re not applying. . . I should say they’re not misapplying to them information that is valid for men but not so for women. The opposite is also true.”

Next up was internist Dr. Janet Tornelli-Mitchell, who spoke about menopause and how hormonal therapy has changed since 2010.

Starting off with the basics, Janet explained the three stages of menopause:

  • Perimenopause — This stage is a time when a natural, gradual decline of hormones takes place. It can occur as early as the 40’s or even as late as the 60’s. The norm is in the 40’s and 50’s. Symptoms can start occurring at this time. A woman’s hormone level can be tested as normal, but it doesn’t mean she is not in this stage.
  • Menopause — It’s a transitional time. It is not an illness or a disease. Menopause is defined as the lack of a menstrual cycle for 12 months in a row.
  • Post-menopause — On the 13th month of not having a period, the post-menopausal stage begins.

In the old days when life expectancy was short, the post-menopausal might last 10 or 15 years. Today women may spend half their lives in the post-menopausal stage.

The cause of menopause is due to aging, surgery (i.e. hysterectomy), chemotherapy, radiation, etc.

She stressed time and again that each woman’s transition is different. Thus each woman must work with her doctor to decide on how to handle the developments and symptoms, like “hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, teeth loosening, gums receding, breasts dropping.” As Janet put it, “It sounds terrible, but there are things that can do done.”

Touching on hot flashes and night sweats, she told how the sudden burst of heat can last a few seconds to 10 minutes. “Most women experience hot flashes and night sweats. It can go on for four to 10 years. African and Hispanic women tend to have longer and worse night sweats. Heat, alcohol, smoking and stress can effect night sweats and hot flashes.”

Regarding sexual discomfort, official findings report that 10-40% of women report vaginal symptoms. Janet suggested this number was probably higher because “women are reluctant to report this situation.”

In discussing the 2002 study that sent shock waves throughout the health care world about hormonal therapy, she reported that a December 2013 report by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists had made the following recommendations:

  • Hormonal therapy should not be used for primary care for osteoporosis or heart disease
  • Hormonal therapy is the most effective treatment to handle hot flashes
  • There are alternative methods (i.e. gels, vaginal creams, etc.)
  • In utilizing hormonal therapy, lower doses are recommended.
  • Lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, smoking alcohol are recommended.

As time was running out, she addressed the issue of what types of medications/preparations should be used. She suggested that a patient ask the following questions:

  • Who makes it?
  • Who supervised its manufacturing?
  • Is it the lowest dosage possible?

The final speaker was Professor/Director and Chief Scientific Officer/Associate Dean of Women in Health and Science/Mrs. J. Avery “Janie” Rush Endowed Chair of Excellence in Women’s Health and Oncology Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, who in addition to addressing diet and nutrition, stressed the importance of sleep. Women have more disturbances in sleeping and tend to sleep less leading to depression, eating more, etc.

While many women claim great weight gains due to menopause, Marjorie reported that only five to seven pounds result from this transition. In addition to sleeping less, there is a tendency for women to be less active. Once over the age of 50, a woman needs to move 10,000 steps a day.

She surprised some in the audience by reporting that in the United States, the average person consumes 600 calories of sugar a day resulting in a country of sugar addicts. Even artificial sweeteners add to the problem.

Addressing fad diets and programs, she admonished the group that healthy weight maintenance is the result of a lifestyle, not a diet. That lifestyle requires sleeping more, eating less and exercising more. As she summed it up, “The body achieves what the mind believes.”

Following the three doctors, outgoing Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance talked to the group about the importance of the Institute and the information resulting from it.

For your consideration, here are some factoids that were provided:

  • Women are six times less likely than men to be referred for a needed heart transplant.
  • Until 2008 males were left out national osteoporosis guidelines.
  • Females are more likely to be affected by eating disorders, panic disorder and depression.
  • Women are more likely to die after a heart attack within one year.
  • Men are twice as likely to die from a hip fracture than women.
  • Women are more likely than men to go to a nursing home after a stroke.
  • Males are more likely to suffer from Autism and APHD.
  • Women are less likely to receive approved Alzheimer’s treatments after diagnosis.

Imagine what discoveries will be made in the days and years ahead thanks to more research and distribution of information.

Lee Ann White To Chair Laura W. Bush Institute For Women’s Health

Lee Ann White

Lee Ann White *

Former First Lady Laura Bush is tapping her Dallas buds to help with some of her fav programs. The latest is Lee Ann White, who will serve as chairwoman of the the National Advisory Board for the Texas Tech University Health Science’s Center Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health.

According to Laura, “Lee Ann White is a longtime friend of mine and of Texas Tech University. She will be a terrific chair of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health Advisory Board. I am grateful that she has agreed to serve as chairwoman and I look forward to working with her to improve women’s health.”

Debbie Francis (File photo)

Debbie Francis (File photo)

Lee Ann succeeds outgoing chair and another local Laura Bush gal/pal Debbie Francis.

Texas Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance said, “Lee Ann White has been an active member of the National Advisory Board and has a strong passion for the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health. Her experience will advance our institute to a new level of excellence and build upon the success accomplished under the leadership of Debbie Francis. We thank Debbie for her dedicated service and look forward to our future progress with Chairwoman White.”

* Photo provided by Caron Cares

Michael Fowler And Lee Ann White Share Their Success Story Thanks To Alan White At Caron Cares

Michael Fowler and Lee Ann White*

The Caron Cares luncheon at the Omni Dallas was a sellout with a cross section of Dallas’ top names in attendance. The common denominator was the mother/son team of Lee Ann White and Michael Fowler, who were the featured speakers.

As one guest put it, “We’re so proud of their successes and want to be here for them.”

But before the doors of the ballroom even opened, many guests were delayed. Seems the State Fair parade through downtown Dallas had blocked streets. When Lee Ann realized that it would be a true feat for people to maneuver through the streets, she texted friends warning that they’d better get an early start.

Guests arrived and made their way with most explaining their tardiness due to the parade. Pity the poor woman who was at such a loss, she paid a hotel staffer $5 to show her where the ballroom was.

Kristina Wandzilak, Robin Bagwell, Constance Curry and Jan Osborn*

What these luncheon guests learned was they had missed an amazing morning conversation between mother/daughter authors/speakers Constance Curry and Kristina Wandzilak. Needless to say, the “Caron Cares: A Day of Discovery & Recovery,” co-chaired by Jan Osborn and her buddy Robin Bagwell, was off to an impressive start.

As Lee Ann and Michael prepared for their presentation, they were at first a bit apprehensive. After all,  talking before a ballroom full of family, friends and strangers was a first for the twosome.  But once inside the ballroom, it was like an old home week celebration with Aileen Pratt, Hill Feinberg, Caron President/CEO Doug Tieman, Jill Smith, James Huffines, Patsy Donosky, Amara Durham, Amy Vanderoeuf, Lisa Schnitzer, Troy Aikman, Anita Feherty, James Hatcher and Jennifer Clark.

Anita Feherty, Amara Durham and Lisa Schnitzer*

Then it was time for Lee Ann and Michael to take their place on stage with Scott Murray. Michael started off. He told that from the outside, his life looked picture perfect. And yet, “I still felt different.” Excelling at tennis resulted in weekends participating in tournaments and lots of training. He felt he was missing out on the high school experience, and “I was willing to try anything.”

Scott Murray, Lee Ann White and Michael Fowler*

At this point Michael said that most addicts progress from alcohol to marijuana to cocaine and harder drugs. He did it in reverse.

When buying cocaine for the first time, he offered a check that his father had given him for a new tennis racket. Michael told the audience, “FYI: drug dealers take cash only.”

Michael Fowler talking to the luncheon guests*

He described that first time as “I remember instantly I felt special and I didn’t feel self-conscious and I felt good. I hadn’t felt that way in a long time.”

His parents didn’t realize what was going on with their only child. His grades were dropping and he wasn’t being  the responsible kid that he used to be. Then a call came from the principal for a meeting. At that time, they were told Michael was doing drugs.

Lee Ann later told the audience that her response was that perhaps he might drink but “there was no way he would be into drugs. It turned out they were right.”

From that point the family tried various programs only to get Michael out and have him fall back into the old routine. According to Lee Ann, he would do well in treatment, but once out “he couldn’t maintain.

“I guess I am an enabler,” said the brunette with diamond blue eyes. She always felt that if she could do everything for Michael, all the other pieces would fit into place.

Alan White

During this time of struggle, including his living on the streets, Michael’s folks divorced and Lee Ann married Alan White, who, both mother and son agree, became the knight in shining armor. From the stage, Michael acknowledged the life-saving part Alan played with tough love.

“One of the greatest blessing of my life has been Alan White. He gave me the tools and I had to do the work,” Michael said.

The real test came when Katrina was hitting the Gulf Coast. Just days before, Michael was offered his last chance from Lee Ann and Alan. He either got his act together at a facility in Mississippi, or he was finished with the family. After 10 days in the center, Michael called his mother saying that Katrina was on its way and the people at the facility didn’t know what they were doing. Since no commercial planes were flying because of the hurricane, Michael’s solution: “Send the (private) jet.” Lee Ann, supported by Alan, said, “No.” That was a tough one. She hung up the phone and cried, “My baby is going to die!” Instead Michael not only lived, he found a new life realizing that he was sick and tired of being sick and tired. For the first time he started listening and following directions: “I became trustworthy.”

Now, having lived seven years of sobriety, Michael is working with addicts at Caron Texas in Princeton.

But Lee Ann reminded the audience that Michael’s disease is ongoing: “The treatment is repetitious, doing it over and over again. Every day is a new one. Every day Michael has a choice whether to stay sober that day or whether to drink.”

Looking around the room at familiar faces, she reminded them, “You cannot bear this burden by yourself. I had to have the help of my friends, my minister and the counselors.

“Thanks to Alan and his support and tough love and just being there for us. [If not for that,] this wouldn’t be happening today,” said Lee Ann.

Doug Tieman

Michael closed by saying that shame is often one of the problems facing addicts. “They feel like they’re a bad person. . . . Caron does excellent work and they stand behind helping others. As Doug [Tieman] said, we gave $2.5 million (in scholarships) to build the Texas center in trying to help others struggling with addiction.”

What had started out as a presentation turned into a celebration for a young man who turned his life around; for a mother who suffered through the painful ordeal for years; and for a man who practiced tough love with loving care.

* Photo credit: Holt Haynsworth

Super Bowl XLV Wrap Up: Private Party At Victory Center, Hilary Swank in Preston Hollow, Maxim Party At Fair Park And Passby At Grey Goose

It’s the final day of the media search for VIP encounters before the Super Bowl. After the Prince concert debacle, the media is a bit on edge on who is in town and who isn’t. Rumors are flying that Brad and Angelina are holed up in a Beverly Drive mansion. The thought of trick or treating along Beverly passes quickly. Am hearing that the big blowout events with mega stars are proving to be busts. Stars are showing up late and only staying for a scant few minutes, if they show at all. Makes Friday night’s Audi Forum all the more precious. But tonight’s roster is stellar. The first one is a private party given by PlainsCapital first couple Lee Ann and Alan White where no cameras are allowed. Second one is at Lillie and Phil Romanos’ estate in Preston Hollow hosted by Hilary Swank for The Giving Fund. It was ranked as #1 last Super Bowl by ESPN. The last official event of the evening is Maxim‘s Party Powered by Motorola which is considered the hot party that some media outlet claimed last year as THE party. If there are two seconds to rub together, will hit the Grey Goose Lounge where Jeremy “Entourage” Pivens is holding court. Celebrity hunting season is closing tonight with guaranteed WOW opportunities.

Follow the jump to find out how swell searching ended with frost-bitten fingers. [Read more…]