Revolutionary NIH Policy Change on Studying Sex and Gender Affirms Women's Health Research at Yale Practices Since 1998

For Release: May 15, 2014

Contact: Daniel P. Jones, Press Officer/Science Writer (203) 764-6600;

New Haven, Conn. – The National Institutes of Health has announced a sea change in NIH-funded research to end the exclusion of female animal models and neglect of attention to the sex of cells.

This shortfall in research, according to NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health Director Janine Clayton, M.D., “obscures key sex differences that could guide clinical studies. And it might be harmful: women experience higher rates of adverse drug reactions than men do,” for example.

The new NIH policies affirm the research practices implemented and advocated by Women’s Health Research at Yale in its innovative studies on women’s health and gender differences, since the Center’s founding in 1998.

“The NIH plan to change the longstanding, inadequate representation of females in animal models and laboratory research with cell lines is essential to gaining an understanding of gender differences in human health and disease,” said Carolyn M. Mazure, Ph.D, Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, and Director of Women’s Health Research at Yale.

“Gender differences affect risk, onset, prevalence and/or response to treatment in numerous important areas, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, substance abuse and a host of other health conditions,” Mazure said. “Most importantly, the NIH requirements to study sex and gender will lead to improvements in health and health care for both women and men.”

The NIH announced its plans May 14 and will roll out the policy changes in phases beginning in October 2014.

Women’s Health Research at Yale was founded in 1998 to address disparities in medical research by initiating and supporting never before undertaken studies on the health of women and gender-specific aspects of health and disease. The Center has since grown into one of the largest interdisciplinary research centers of its kind in the country and has become a national model.

Since inception, WHRY has awarded more than $4.5 million in annual pilot grants to nearly 70 investigators who have obtained more than $52 million in external grants to further their research.

The NIH plans are detailed in the journal Nature.

For more information on Women’s Health Research at Yale, visit

This article was submitted by Shane Seger on May 15, 2014.

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Carolyn M. Mazure

Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor in Women's Health Research and Professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology