Sex as a Biological Variable: NIH Workshop


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The NIH held a workshop on the topic “Sex as a Biological Variable” recently. Women make up half of the world’s population, but the great majority of medical research studies have been performed in males. It has erroneously been assumed that the results and recommendations from these male only studies equally apply to women.

In order to change this situation, the NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health over the past 2 decades has led the effort to change this situation and this workshop has been an excellent demonstration of the progress that has been made. Sex-related differences are now being revealed in every organ system, including the brain, from clinical studies all the way to individual cells. It is remarkable that even though men’s and women’s biology is so different at every level, both sexes are able to perform at the same level in society.

Do men and women achieve this remarkable accomplishment by employing different biological mechanisms?