November 13, 2023

Statement from the Society for Women’s Health Research on the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research Announcement

November 13, 2023The Society for Women’s Health Research released the following statement in response to the November 2023 announcement of President Biden’s White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, led by First Lady Jill Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council.

The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) applauds President Biden, Dr. Biden, and the Administration for taking an important step today in prioritizing women’s health research at the federal level. Through its announcement of the new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, the White House is signaling its recognition that women’s health research has been overlooked and deserves increased national attention so that women across the country can achieve equity and parity in health and health care.

The underrepresentation of women in clinical research has been well documented. Not only have women been historically excluded from clinical trials, but there has also been a continued over-reliance on male animal models in basic research. We also know that conditions that disproportionately affect women receive less funding in proportion to the disease burden than those conditions that disproportionately affect males. The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH), though recently provided with grantmaking authority, does not have the infrastructure or capacity to administer grants that could have a direct bearing on women’s health.

These challenges, while stark, reveal the tremendous opportunities that exist to advance women’s health – and the role that Congress and the Administration can play in closing research gaps and improving women’s health outcomes.

This initiative is long overdue. It has been 30 years since the enactment of the NIH Revitalization Act mandating the inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities in NIH-funded research – and we are still making up for decades of lost research.

Women represent 51% of the nation’s population. They are not a niche market, and it is time that the federal research enterprise reflects this.

SWHR is thrilled about this Initiative from the White House and looks forward to engaging with the Administration to ensure that the most salient recommendations of the women’s health, public health, and scientific communities become a reality. We believe this Initiative holds the potential to help us reach SWHR’s vision of making women’s health mainstream, and we stand ready to assist our federal colleagues in any way possible.