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Vol. LXVI, No. 3
January 31, 2014
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NIH Addresses Gender Issues in Research on International Stage
Gender summit participants included (from l): ORWH director Dr. Janine Clayton, Dr. Lynn Adams, Dr. Rosemarie Filart and Dr. Joan Nagel. At rear is Adams’ poster, “NIH Supports the Advancement of Women in Biomedical Careers.” Serving on a summit panel are (from l) Dr. Stephen Fiore, Dr. Susan Winter, Dr. Jeanne-Marie Guise, Dr. Judy Regensteiner and ORWH’s Nagel. They participated in a discussion following the session “Fostering Interdisciplinary Careers.”

Shown above, gender summit participants included (from l): ORWH director Dr. Janine Clayton, Dr. Lynn Adams, Dr. Rosemarie Filart and Dr. Joan Nagel. At rear is Adams’ poster, “NIH Supports the Advancement of Women in Biomedical Careers.” In the photo at right, serving on a summit panel are (from l) Dr. Stephen Fiore, Dr. Susan Winter, Dr. Jeanne-Marie Guise, Dr. Judy Regensteiner and ORWH’s Nagel. They participated in a discussion following the session “Fostering Interdisciplinary Careers.”

Photos: Lynn S. Adams

NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health recently convened the International Gender Summit 3-North America. More than 100 speakers from 20 countries participated. The summit engaged researchers, policy makers, science and innovation leaders and other stakeholders in science, technology, engineering and math to address gender issues in research and innovation with the goal of increasing the efficacy, quality and success of these sectors.

The GS3 also created an online community to facilitate sharing ideas and documents with other summit attendees. Discussions continued months after GS3 via the online community; given the level of enthusiasm, they may persist until GS4 in 2014.

ORWH participated in two workshops: “Integrating Gender Dimension into Medical Researcher Training,” chaired by ORWH director Dr. Janine Clayton, and “Fostering Interdisciplinary Careers,” chaired by Dr. Joan Nagel, ORWH medical officer. The sessions were designed to provide practical examples, approaches and methods that have been implemented within institutions for biomedical research and investigator training and that may be adopted more broadly across a range of areas where attention to gender issues is imperative.

“Sex and gender are fundamental variables that affect health and disease, in women and in men,” said Clayton. “But they are different: Sex is defined by biology and gender is influenced by social, cultural and behavioral norms. This summit did a terrific job explaining why we need to incorporate sex and gender questions into research across the spectrum from cells to selves.”

Panelists included experts from Germany, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. who identified challenges and offered practical solutions to issues such as measuring the health effects of gender, promoting more gender-aware diagnosing and treatment, sex effects in the susceptibility to cancer, how gendered innovations can be used for training and women’s health curricula and inter-professional collaboration across health professions.

“Bringing women into the fold of biomedical research is one of the best ways to be sure we include diverse perspectives to solve problems that affect not only women, but also men,” Clayton said. “But we need to do a better job developing women for leadership positions and an even better job at keeping them there.”

During the poster session, Dr. Lynn Adams of ORWH presented, “NIH Supports the Advancement of Women in Biomedical Careers.” It highlighted key accomplishments of the NIH working group on women in biomedical careers, including the Women of Color Research Network and the Leave Bank program, which was recently extended NIH-wide.

Overall, panelists made it clear that in order to make significant progress toward the goal of successfully integrating women into science and engineering as experimenters, research subjects and leaders, it is imperative to better integrate teams of scientists, physicians and patients as well as the policy community.


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