December 2016
In This Issue
A Year in Review

Institute Happenings 

Upcoming Events 
  Recent Blogs 
Dear Friends,

As 2016 winds to a close, the Women’s Health Research Institute would like to reflect on some of the significant advances that have made an impact on women’s health this year.

In addition, we want to acknowledge all of our supporters. Whether you are a member of the Illinois Women’s Health Registry, a Forum Fan, or a loyal reader of our newsletters and blogs – you are helping to shape the face of women’s health and well-being in Illinois and beyond! Thank you for your continued support!

Nicole C. Woitowich, PhD
Director of Science Outreach and Education 
Women's Health Research: A Year In Review

   Over the last year, there have been numerous studies which enhanced our understanding of women’s health and well-being. Yet, perhaps the most significant advancement of women’s health in 2016 comes not from the results of a clinical trial or a scientific study, but from a policy implemented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which requires federally funded investigators to, “consider sex as a biological variable.” Yet, what does it actually mean to consider sex as a biological variable, and how will it impact women going forward?

   We know that men and women experience many diseases and disorders differently. Sex differences can be found in the symptoms, severity, prevalence, and age at onset for a variety of conditions. However, a majority of biomedical research is conducted with a preferential bias towards the male sex. Investigators tend to use male cells or animals, neglect to report which sexes were studied, or fail to mention if any sex-differences were identified [1-3]. These practices limit our understanding of how sex impacts health and disease and hinder the development of therapeutics. Thus, the new NIH policy asks investigators to conduct their research in both males and females or provide strong justification as to why studying one sex would be more appropriate.

    As we enter the era of personalized medicine, the need for sex-based science becomes even more apparent. In order to treat patients based on individual genes, we need to consider their chromosomes, including XX or XY. By requiring scientists and clinicians to consider sex as a biological variable, women’s health is made a priority from the bench to the bedside.

Throughout 2016, the NIH policy made national news, brining women’s health issues into the purview of the general public. Here are a few examples from the media:   

I n addition, scientists and clinicians have addressed the policy and how it might impact women’s health: 

To learn more about the NIH policy we encourage you to join us for the Sex Inclusion in Biomedical Research Workshop & Symposium on January 25th, 2017, as we celebrate the 1-year anniversary of the NIH sex inclusion policy. Open to the public, the event will feature thoughtful discussion of this policy and best practices to conduct sex-based research.

Visit  for registration and abstract submission!   
1. Berry and Zucker, Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Jan; 35(3): 565–572.
2. Woodruff et al., Endocrinology. 2014 Apr;155(4):1181-3. doi: 10.1210/en.2014-1068.
3. Yoon et al., Surgery. 2014;156(3):508-16.

Author: Nicole C. Woitowich, PhD, Director of Science Outreach and Education, Women's Health Research Institute  
Institute Happenings
The WHRI wants to hear from you!

What topics would you like to see covered in the monthly newsletter or at the health forums?  Do you have any comments or suggestions about WHRI programming? 

Click on the link below to let us know! 

Upcoming Events 

Tuesday, December 13th: Women's Health Research Monthly Forum 
"Innovations in Assisted Reproductive Technologies"              
Dr. Eve Feinberg
12:00PM - 1:00PM
Prentice Women's Hospital, 250 E. Superior Street, 3rd Floor Conference Room L South
This continuing nursing education activity has been approved for 1.0 contact hour by the Ohio Nurses Association (OBN-001-91), an accredited approver of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.  Approval valid through 11/14/2018 - ONA Approval #20397, ONA-CE Assigned Approval Number.

Wednesday, January 25th: Sex Inclusion in Biomedical Research Workshop & Symposium
12:00PM - 6:00PM
Prentice Women's Hospital, 250 E. Superior Street, 3rd Floor Conference Room L South