Politics

Our Initiative to Address Diseases that Impact Women Differently Will Include People Born Male

On Tuesday’s broadcast of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” White House Gender Policy Council Director Jennifer Klein stated that President Joe Biden’s women’s health initiative is designed to address underfunding and understudying of women’s health research and “looks at diseases…where women have been disproportionately affected” and impact women differently than men and will also cover transgender women.

Klein said the order “does two things beyond the current standards that are already in place at NIH, which, as you said, require that women and people of color are represented in clinical trials. So, what this executive order will do is, first of all, extend that beyond NIH to all federal research, wherever that is done, at every agency that’s done, and second of all, from basic research to clinical trials, also to the research that translates into clinical practice. So, that’s the first thing that it will do.”

She continued, “And second of all, it will strengthen research and data standards related to women’s health. So, that’s everything from study, to design, to data collection and analysis, to how that data is reported. So, this builds on what is already in place at the NIH, but goes much further. And the last thing I would say is that it also — an important announcement that was made yesterday was an additional new $200 million from NIH beginning next year in fiscal 2025 that will allow NIH to really catalyze interdisciplinary research. So, too much research has happened in silos, and this will allow NIH to really work on issues that cut across the traditional mandates of the institutes and centers at NIH, for example, to look at the connection between menopause and bone health or brain health or heart health.”

Co-host Michel Martin then asked, “What about trans women and people who are intersex, will they be included in this initiative?”

Klein answered, “Yes, this initiative covers women. Women are 50% of the population. And, for far too long, women’s health research has been underfunded and understudied. So, what this focuses on is those sort of long-ignored areas. That’s why, for example, the executive order specifically points to midlife health, which is an area that has been understudied for far too long. But it also looks at diseases from — where women have been disproportionately affected. For example, Alzheimer’s disease, two-thirds of patients with Alzheimer’s are women, and yet, the funding does not match those numbers, to diseases like heart disease, where it differently affects women and we don’t always know why and how, and that relates to how women are treated…when they’re potentially having a heart attack. Doctors and healthcare providers need to know exactly how to treat them in situations like that.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett



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