Sex-Specific Medical Research Why Women’s Health Can’t Wait

Brigham and Women’s Hospital:2/26/14

A Report of the
Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health
& Gender Biology
at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Twenty years ago, a bipartisan group of legislators worked with patients, providers, policy makers, and advocates to create and pass the 1993 National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act, a law mandating that women and minorities be included in clinical trials funded by the NIH. In many ways the law has been a success.

Women are now routinely included in clinical trials, and we have learned how certain diseases present differently in men and women.

Yet, despite some progress, medical research is too often flawed by its failure to examine sex differences. It is now clear that men and women experience illness differently and this report looks closely at four diseases where this
is especially true: cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. The past two decades have shown not only that sex differences exist, but have produced scientific advancements that enhance our ability to discover why they occur and how we might adapt prevention, detection and treatment strategies for the benefit of women and men alike. Therefore, to ignore these differences challenges the quality and integrity of science and medicine.  Read more