Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about who we are, what we do, and how that helps you? Check out our answers to your Frequently Asked Questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Women’s Health Research at Yale?
Women’s Health Research at Yale is a self-supporting center within Yale School of Medicine that for more than 20 years has been changing the landscape of medical research and practice by ensuring the study of women and examining health differences between women and men to improve the lives of everyone.
- But what does WHRY do?
- The center conducts research through our trailblazing Pilot Project Program and interdisciplinary research partnerships.
- We communicate the latest findings to the public to better inform health decisions and lead to better outcomes.
- We train the next generation of women’s health researchers and clinicians to carry on and spread this important work — both through hands-on mentorship and efforts to integrate sex and gender into medical school curriculums so that physicians and scientists investigate and account for important sex and gender differences.
- We assert a national voice to inform policies that improve public health.
- Why study women?
It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that women were required to be included as participants in clinical trials seeking grants from the National Institutes of Health, the world’s single largest funder of biomedical research. And it wasn’t until 2016 that the NIH began to require the use of female vertebrates in laboratory studies that form the necessary basis for later human trials.
- Is that all?
No, because even when females are included as research subjects in adequate numbers, the data are not always analyzed by sex or gender to determine if any significant differences exist. This leaves us in the dark about any potential divergences in the prevalence, development, and treatment of diseases and conditions.
- What are some sex-and-gender differences uncovered by health researchers?
For starters, women are more likely to:
- Suffer from chronic diseases and disability
- Have acute and chronic pain
- Die following a heart attack
- Develop depression and anxiety
- Have autoimmune diseases
- Develop Alzheimer’s disease
- Have a more sharply rising rate of change in mortality from prescription opioids
- Have unique reproductive health requirements
And as we study women, data show:
- Sex/gender differences in prevalence, risk factors, presentation, and the development of diseases in patients (such as osteoporosis and stroke)
- Response to a treatment can vary by sex and gender (such as anesthesia and smoking)
- Prevention strategies often need to be sex-and-gender-specific (such as for HIV and alcohol abuse)
- Women’s health includes reproductive health and more
- What is sex? What is gender?
As defined by the National Academy of Medicine:
Sex is the classification of living things, generally as male or female according to their reproductive organs and functions assigned by chromosomal compliment.
Gender is a person’s self-representation as male or female, or how that person is responded to by social institutions based on the individual’s gender presentation. Gender is rooted in biology and shaped by environment and experience.
- What do you mean by research?
Research is systematic exploration of what things are and how they work. Researchers use the scientific method to ask questions and design experiments that test the accuracy of proposed answers to those questions.
Health research applies the scientific method to how our bodies work and how diseases and conditions affect our health and well-being. They collect data — facts and statistics — to reach conclusions and make recommendations for further study or to apply this new knowledge toward treating patients.
- What is a "pilot study?"
Before researchers can receive funding necessary to fully explore health issues and develop treatments or prevention strategies, they need some basic data. They use these initial facts and statistics to prove the ability of a larger study to reach its goals.
WHRY has become a national model for providing money for pilot studies that allow researchers to generate the data they need to receive larger external grants and further their work.
To date, WHRY has awarded more than $5 million in pilot grants. And WHRY researchers have used the results from their studies to generate more than $100 million in new external grants to further research in their labs and clinical research settings.
- How does this work benefit everyone?
Women’s Health Research at Yale most definitely benefits women, for whom a gap in health knowledge had grown for decades and whose specific health needs continue to require attention. But WHRY’s additional focus on sex-and-gender differences also allows men to benefit by illuminating aspects of men’s health that might otherwise get lost in an unexamined mix of sex-and-gender data. Researchers should also analyze results with an eye toward intersectional and demographic distinctions to ensure that women of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and other populations are fully considered.
- What can I do to help?
Women’s Health Research at Yale is a self-supporting center that relies on current-use and endowment gifts to achieve its goals.