Have you have seen any of these headlines?
“Health-Related Quality of Life Varies Between Men, Women with Advanced Kidney Disease”
“Sex Differences in Smoking Risk Following Heart Attack”
“Cervical Cancer Kills Black Women at a Disproportionately Higher Rate Than Whites”
These recent headlines have in common the fact that health disparities — inequities is the better term — continue to compromise and even determine health outcomes for many. They remind us that women continue to be at elevated risk for many diseases and conditions and that, often, women of color are at even higher risk for adverse health outcomes.
But these stories, for me, summon resolve and hope for the future. Because, after decades in which research too often did not include women or failed to consider sex-and-gender differences, we are starting to make real progress. We now know about the significant ways in which sex — as a biological variable — and gender, race, and ethnicity — as social variables — affect health. And more investigators are following the lead blazed by Women’s Health Research at Yale nearly 25 years ago.
We cannot turn back. And to ensure that we maintain and accelerate this progress, we need your help.
WHRY relies on the generosity of people like you to invest in the health of women. Your donations allow WHRY to fund essential studies on women and sex-and-gender differences in health. Each year, WHRY assembles committees comprised of leading medical practitioners and researchers whose job it is to evaluate and recommend for funding studies from among dozens of competitive applications. The process continues beyond the initial research, as WHRY staff work with the researchers to hone their methods and leverage their results to secure larger external grants. Over the years, WHRY researchers have taken their data and used it to generate 20 times more funding than the initial WHRY pilot grant. These scientists then invest in their labs and clinical research settings, establishing research programs dedicated to solving the practical health problems women continue to face.
The center also brings experts together across disciplines so that their combined skills and experience can examine and address complex and difficult health problems, from cancer and cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer’s disease and mental health disorders.
Importantly, WHRY finds new and innovative ways to share the results of its studies — and those of others — with the public and the medical community. The result is that the base of knowledge guiding medical care continues to expand.
The center also has made strides in refocusing the content of what is taught in medical school. The objective here is to enable students to understand the latest findings on sex and gender as they embark on their careers and influence their colleagues. Through mentoring efforts, WHRY directly teaches students and junior faculty members to lead the next generation of researchers and health care providers in inclusive science and medicine.
WHRY has also joined with the Yale School of Public Health’s policy lab Elevate in order to provide data-based solutions, in collaboration with our communities, that assist women and families in difficult circumstances and help women advance their lives to end the cycle of poverty.
With your support, these efforts will write tomorrow’s headlines.
Barbara M. Riley