New Paper: Incorporating Sex Influences into Today’s Brain Research

Historically, most medical research has used male subjects (human and animal) and tissues, but recently there has been a notable increase in the acceptance of the need to incorporate sex influences into brain research. in 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandated that all future biomedical research funded by the agency include sex differences.

But two years after the NIH passed its mandate, the research community continues to debate how best to address sex as a biological variable.

Why not just introduce female subjects to the studies, you might wonder, but it’s not that simple, as Jill Goldstein, director of research at the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital explains in our new briefing paper:

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NIH Puts ‘Money Where Mouth Is’ Concerning Sex Differences Policy

Guest post by science writer Kayt Sukel

Earlier this year, the National Institutes of Health called for a sweeping policy change demanding that sex differences be addressed in future research programs funded by the agency [see Dana story, NIH Calls for ‘Sea Change’ Regarding Sex Differences in Research]. Most applauded the move as a vital first step in transforming how sex differences are currently handled in biomedical studies. But some worried that without proper funding, scientists would have difficulty complying with the new mandates.

“Money is a critical component of all this,” said Jill Goldstein, director of research for the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology and Harvard Medical School. “There has to be funding to focus on sex differences or else it’s hard to see how it is really going to happen.”

Today, the National Institutes of Health announced it has awarded more than $10 million in supplemental funding to help grantees better investigate the effects of sex in their research.

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