May 17, 2022

Annual OSSD Meeting Continues Expansion of Sex Differences Research

The Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD) hosted its Annual Meeting in May 2022, covering the most recent advances in research and policy regarding sex differences in health and disease. OSSD was establish was 2006 by the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) and became an independent organization in 2012. OSSD’s goals are to facilitate interdisciplinary research in, advance understandings of, encourage new applications for, and generally promote the field of sex and gender differences research.  

During the opening remarks, OSSD President Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl called the meeting special because of how it gathers sex differences experts who span the health space, from development to aging to many disease states. “This is important because it means we can cross-fertilize findings from one disease to another, and you don’t always get that opportunity at disease-specific meetings,” Dr. Voskuhl said.  

OSSD gave out its annual awards at the meeting, including the NIH and FDA-sponsored Travel Awards, ORWH Policy Travel Awards, and Florence Haseltine Poster Awards, among others. See the full list of awardees here 

This year’s meeting covered topics from autism and diabetes to COVID-19 treatment and outcomes. Included here are just a few of many important presentation takeaways: 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) also spoke during the meeting, presenting research from one of their Science Policy Scholar Travel Award winners and sharing insights from its Specialized Centers of Research Excellence (SCORE) on Sex Differences program.    

Laura Pritschet from University of California, Santa Barbara was one of this year’s ORWH Science Policy Scholar Travel Award recipients and presented on “The Scientific Body of Knowledge – Whose Body Does It Serve? Factoring Women’s Health into Human Brain Imaging”. Her research found sex hormones are critical neuromodulators that deserve attention in both sexes.

“We’re still playing catch up to a reality where women and women’s health is not prioritized. Moving forward, large scale data collection efforts should incorporate reproductive health information, and organizations like NIH should continue offering special funding calls that prioritize women’s health research,” Pritschet said.  

SCORE is the only NIH Centers Program that supports disease-agnostic research on sex differences, helping to develop standards to consider SABV across the research continuum, Dr. Chyren Hunter, Associate Director for the Basic and Translational Research Program at ORWH shared. “We know women have been understudied, and SABV is a way to bridge that gap. What we’re interested in here at NIH is rigorous research,” Dr. Hunter said.

“Without complete data, we won’t get to individualized medicine for women as well as men. With the study if women’s health and the study of sex difference together, we will all get there.”  


Learn more about OSSD here and read the latest articles from OSSD’s official journal, Biology of Sex Differences, here