NIH Move On Gender Disparities Hailed As Breakthrough

A move by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to eliminate a gender bias in basic research will lead to improvements in medical care for both men and women, says the director of Women’s Health Research at Yale. “The NIH plan to change the longstanding, inadequate representation of females in animal models and laboratory research with cell lines is essential to gaining an understanding of gender differences in human health and disease,” Carolyn M. Mazure, director of Yale’s center on women’s health, said in response to changes announced this week by the NIH. “Gender differences affect risk, onset, prevalence and/or response to treatment in numerous important areas, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, substance abuse and a host of other health conditions,” she said. Mazure was reacting to an NIH announcement this week that it is developing policies to require all medical researchers that it funds to use a balance of male and female cells and animals for all future preclinical research. The NIH already has pushed researchers to include adequate numbers of women in clinical trials.

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