Gender matters in medical research. That's the reasoning behind the Research for All Act (.pdf), a recently introduced Congressional bill that would require scientists conducting NIH-funded research to look at male and female animals and cells. The legislation would also require the FDA "to guarantee that clinical drug trials for expedited drug products are sufficient to determine safety and effectiveness for both men and women."
As noted in a press release on the bill from U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.):
Women compose more than half the U.S. population, but most medical research focuses exclusively on men...
For example, the unique way women metabolize drugs was ignored when researchers determined the dosage for Ambien sleeping pills; as a result, the initial recommended dosage was double what it should have been for women.
Additionally, cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of all Americans, but only one-third of subjects in cardiac clinical trials are women.
In a Nature piece published last spring, Londa Schiebinger, PhD, director of Stanford's Gendered Innovations in Science, Health & Medicine, Engineering, and Environment, highlighted the "male default" in science and outlined the benefits of taking gender into account during research:
Including gender analysis in research can save us from life-threatening errors... and can lead to new discoveries. Gender analysis has led to better treatments for heart disease in women. Identifying the genetic mechanisms of ovarian determination has enhanced knowledge about testis development. Analysing how sex affects donor–recipient matching is improving stem-cell therapies. And exploring how sex-specific biological factors and gender-specific behaviours interact has helped researchers to understand how nutrients trigger cell functions, and may assist in the fight against obesity.
Previously: Stanford professor encourages researchers to take gender into account, A look at NIH’s new rules for gender balance in biomedical studies, Why it’s critical to study the impact of gender differences on diseases and treatments, Stanford Gendered Innovations program offers tools for improving scientific research and Women underrepresented in heart studies
Via The Hill
Photo by Benita Denny/Wellcome Images