September 20, 2023

SWHR Presents at MichBIO Life Sciences Showcase

SWHR Chief Science Officer Irene Aninye (left) and SWHR Chief Advocacy Officer Lindsey Horan (right).


On September 18, two members of the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) team attended MichBIO and gave the presentation “Addressing Disparities Through Patient, Provider, and Policymaker Collaborations: Women’s Health and Autoimmune Disease Case Study.”

Irene Aninye, PhD, SWHR’s Chief Science Officer, spoke about SWHR’s interdisciplinary approach to advancing autoimmune disease research and care for women. SWHR’s success, she noted, has been due in large part to convening subject-matter experts across research, clinical care, patient advocacy, industry, and policy and looking to them to inform the Society’s efforts across women’s health issues. Through their input, the Society is better able to produce the tools, resources, and information that will provide the greatest benefit and fill current gaps.

As part of her presentation, Dr. Aninye emphasized the unique, yet synergetic role, that patients, providers, and policymakers each play in achieving health equity – from identifying the priorities of the end users (patients) to determining the allocation of funding and developing interventions and programs (policymakers) to addressing knowledge gaps and informing best practices and standards of care (providers).

Lindsey Horan, SWHR’s Chief Advocacy Officer, Horan noted that SWHR’s autoimmune policy portfolio served as an example of the Society’s interdisciplinary approach. This work, she shared, sought to educate policymakers through a variety of mediums, including congressional briefings, policy briefs, and an overarching policy agenda. In addition, Ms. Horan shared information about SWHR’s work with the Coalition to Advance Maternal Therapeutics (CAMT) and its work in value assessment, highlighting the complementary nature of efforts in women’s health.

The efforts of the CAMT, a coalition of organizations aiming to improve the inclusion of pregnant and lactating populations in research, could improve outcomes for women with autoimmune diseases and conditions by ensuring that women and their providers have evidence-based information about whether the medications and treatments they take while pregnant or breastfeeding are safe and effective. With respect to the Society’s work in value assessment, SWHR created a set of principles to ensure that value assessment frameworks—which are used to inform treatment decisions and make coverage and reimbursement decisions—account for the unique needs of women, both as patients and as caregivers.

Ms. Horan also shared examples of ways stakeholders can engage in advocacy to advance autoimmune disease research and care for women across the lifespan. Among the current opportunities are advocating for increased research funding into autoimmune diseases; providing input to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about the 10 drugs selected for the first round of negotiations as part of the Inflation Reduction Act; and advocating for the HELP Copays Act, the Safe Step Act, or legislation seeking to improve diversity within clinical trials.

SWHR believes that unlocking answers in autoimmune disease research, clinical care, and policy requires a continued reliance on this interdisciplinary and collaborative approach. We look forward to building on our work—in the autoimmune space and in other areas of women’s health—in the years to come.

For questions about SWHR’s autoimmune work, please contact SWHR Chief Science Officer Irene Aninye or SWHR Chief Advocacy Officer Lindsey Horan.