June 12, 2015

SWHR Applauds NIH’s New Inclusion Of Sex As A Biological Variable

The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR ®) supports the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) move to include sex as a biological variable in future research. Since 1990, SWHR has been working to increase equality in healthcare research, knowing that there are biological sex differences between women and men, and that these differences matter.

According to a release from NIH, accounting for sex as a biological variable begins with the development of research questions and study design and will also include data collection, analysis of results, and reporting of findings.

This change was largely influenced by the work of Janine Clayton, MD, Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. For years, she has championed NIH’s policy change initiative, requiring scientists to include female animals and cells in preclinical research design. We applaud her efforts and are delighted to see these changes taking shape.

Consideration of sex is crucial to the interpretation, validation, and generalizability of research findings. Balanced consideration of both sexes in experiments and disaggregation of data by sex allows for sex-based comparisons and could inform clinical interventions. “I am delighted to see the announcement of the new guidelines from NIH, ensuring the transformation of preclinical research to include sex as a variable,” said SWHR President and CEO Phyllis Greenberger. “This policy change will transform science and, as has been advocated by SWHR, will result in greater understanding of sex differences earlier in research, directly and positively impacting scientific discoveries going forward.”

To learn more about sex differences in health and science, visit www.swhr.org.