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March 10, 2017
ORWH DIRECTOR HONORED
Awards to Clayton Highlight Interest in SABV

For the past couple of years, Dr. Janine Austin Clayton, director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health, has spearheaded efforts to shape and implement a new policy for NIH-funded research: sex as a biological variable, or SABV.

Established in 2015, the SABV policy requires NIH-funded researchers to factor sex into the design of studies involving vertebrate animals and humans, as well as the analysis and reporting of research results. The goal is to identify and understand influences SABV might have on health and disease by ensuring that women and female animal models are as appropriately studied as men and male animal models. Such efforts may help ensure that women receive the most optimal care.

Clayton’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Recently, she received two awards: the Red Dress Award from Women’s Day magazine, a general audience publication with more than 16 million subscribers that focuses on concerns important to women, and the Dr. Nathan Davis Award from the American Medical Association, an organization that since 1847 has played a critical role in the development of medicine in the United States.

ORWH director Dr. Janine Austin Clayton speaks at the Red Dress event in New York City.
ORWH director Dr. Janine Austin Clayton speaks at the Red Dress event in New York City.

PHOTO: RABBANI & SOLIMENE PHOTOGRAPHY

Clayton received the Red Dress Award at the 14th annual Red Dress event in New York City on Feb. 7. In presenting the award, Woman’s Day recognized Clayton’s work in combating heart disease—the number-one killer of women—and her exploration of sex and gender in health, noting that her work could help foster new discoveries that directly benefit the health of women.

The AMA also recognized Clayton’s work in accounting for sex and gender in biomedical research, presenting her with the Dr. Nathan Davis Award at an event held in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 28. Named for the founder of the AMA, the award is considered one of the most prestigious honors recognizing the work of elected officials and career government employees. It highlights accomplishments that advance public health.

“The work that I am doing rests on a foundation established by many scientists, clinicians, health advocates and others who saw this critical gap in knowledge early and continue to help close it,” said Clayton. “It has been exciting to work in partnership with so many different stakeholders within NIH and its institutes and centers to show the value of SABV in the context of a diverse set of disciplines and scientific areas. I am particularly grateful to [NIH director] Dr. [Francis] Collins and other leaders within NIH for making SABV a priority.”

Clayton noted that the awards from Woman’s Day and the AMA demonstrate that many people— from laypersons to medical professionals—are recognizing the importance of sex, as well as gender, in research and medicine. She calls on every biomedical scientist to ask, “What role might sex/ gender play in my area of research?”

ORWH has been conducting roadshows on SABV for NIH institutes and centers, complementing Clayton’s work on the trans-NIH SABV working group.

To receive a presentation on sex/gender and research, contact ORWH at ORWHINFO@mail.nih.gov. Frequently asked questions about SABV and how it helps support rigorous and transparent research can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/reproducibility/faqs.htm.—Marilyn Fenichel, Lamont Williams

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