Illustrated by Tyler Spangler.
The exclusion of woman participants — and female lab animals — in clinical research is a well-documented issue. But, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has just announced it will make a major (and long overdue) investment in balancing the sexes of subjects in scientific studies.
According to the announcement, NIH will distribute $10 million between 82 projects that cover the effects of sex on a wide range of topics. In order to be eligible for these supplemental grants, studies must add: animals, tissues, or cells of the sex that wasn't initially included in the study; more subjects of either sex to a data set that already includes both males and females; or an analysis of existing data sets that include information from both males and females.
The investment comes on the heels of a study released earlier this month, which showed that 80% of studies specifying the sex of their research animals used only males. And, only 3% used both males and females. This, along with previous research, makes it problematic to take results from many pre-clinical and clinical trials and apply them to women, due to a lack of information regarding sex-specific dosing and uses of drugs.
So, there's still a long way to go before we acheive full representation of all genders in research. But, this is a pretty great start on the path to a more inclusive understanding of all of us. Carry on, science.